For the most part, junk is junk,
quality is quality, and ne’er the twain shall meet.
Unless you’re talking Teisco “gold foil” pickups.
Likely the most revered component ever to
have appeared on a cheapo guitar, one particular
variation of this quirky pickup has earned a
major cult following of tone-conscious players,
Ry Cooder not least among them. With original
examples pushing beyond $200 on the vintage
market (each a crap shoot at best, with
shorted windings and uncontrollable microphonic
howl awaiting the unwary buyer), Jason
Lollar decided to recreate the hallowed Teisco
unit as his new Gold Foil pickup, and I for one
am extremely happy he did.
The Gold Foil’s magic is rather difficult to
quantify, but came about in the first place
through the happy accident of a Japanese
guitar manufacturer in the mid ’60s simply
attempting to concoct a nifty looking pickup
that was functional and cheap to manufacture.
The formula consists of 44-gauge wire
wound around a rubberized ferrite magnet
that constitutes one long “polepiece” of
sorts, with separate adjustable polepieces to
the side, run through a steel bar that widens
the magnetic field. On paper, it shouldn’t be
anything special, but plugged in—particularly
when mounted on a guitar above Teisco
grade—it is magical.
Adapted to a Fano RB6 originally routed
for P-90 soapbar pickups, the Lollar Gold Foils
rewarded me with a chewy, thick, yet extremely
clear tone in both positions. No spikes, no harshness,
yet a high-end that really cuts through,
bigger lows than Fender-style single coils, and
a deliciously tactile playing feel. They don’t
sound “hot” as such, yet they drove my Matchless
HC-30 easily, inducing delectable crunch
and singing lead tones. To top it off, thanks to
Lollar’s moderate potting, there was no squeal
when I cranked the amp or stepped on a Blackout
Effectors Twosome fuzz pedal.
As with the originals, the Gold Foils are
designed either for surface mounting on guitars
with adequate string clearance (overall pickup
height is 11/32" and shims are provided to raise
their height if necessary), or “floating”-style to
the side of a raised pickguard. Jason Lollar says
he is looking into methods of adapting the pickups
to a range of fittings, so it’s best to inquire at
the time of purchase. Regardless, these pickups
offer an exciting alternative flavor, and earn an
Editors’ Pick Award for their achievements.
Price $180 street (each)
Magnet Rubberized ferrite
DC resistance 6.23kΩ neck, 6.94kΩ bridge
Covers Nickel or chrome with gold foil
inserts (gold-plated covers and
silver foil options available)
Wire 44 gauge
Polepieces Six adjustable steel poles, plus
bar magnet beneath the cover
Kudos A great recreation of a prized
vintage pickup. Fat, juicy
yet clear tone and a sweetly
tactile playing feel.
Concerns Might require adapting or minor
routing to fit some guitars.