We can all agree that Pete Thorn is a player’s player. A resourceful musician that deftly navigates styles that range from the alternative grunge rock of Chris Cornell. To the bluesy folk of Melissa Etheridge. To the genre-defying Don Henley. If we get into Pete’s session work, my website would break. LOL!
Pete is a go-to guy among guitarists looking to know what sounds great… to the tune of over 100k viewers following him on YouTube. Most importantly (to me, anyway) is that he gets to hang with one of my session guitar heroes, Tim Pierce.
When a player with Pete’s demanding requirements seeks out a definitive pickup, it is no surprise that he would end up with the notoriously demanding John Suhr. I am liking the Suhr pickups that I am trying out.
For this assessment, I am installing the Thornbucker set using a double-hum guitar. The wiring harness on this guitar has Bourns 500k pots, a Switchcraft 12120X 3-way toggle, and Switchcraft 1/4″ jack. Each pickup was wired to an independent 3-way mini-toggle so that each humbucker could go from series to split to parallel. During installation, I hit the friction points with some Lizard Spit Slick Nutz. The guitar is tuned to E standard with a regular 9-42 set. Full disclosure: this bridge model has the wider pole spacing, which will explain the bridge position’s every-so-slightly-higher resistance spec.
Neck pickups are my kryptonite, so you know the Thornbucker neck gets the magnifying glass. It’s a nice little neck pickup. Experiences with Alnico 5 magnets in PAF style neck humbucker sometimes worry me, yet the Thornbucker transcends any concerns. The lows are rich and slightly warm while avoiding boom and mud. There is a touch of sweetness added to the articulate presence of the high end. Things hold together well under very dirty and high gain amp tones. Clean amp options are fun with this pickup, as series mode has an opulence and split/parallel options have some glassy chime.
The Thornbucker bridge really steals the show. There’s a rich harmonic complexity across the tonal range that continues to surprise every time I take it for a spin. A firm warmth in the low end gives character to leads and precision to riffing. The highs balance out in a similar way, having plenty of cut and bite while delivering enough weight to avoid being shrill. The mids really blow me away. You know how many pickups have a slant toward only a sliver of the midrange? I seem to hear a broad footprint across the mids that give that growl in the low mids as well as a snarl in the high mids. It really adds to the versatile nature and contributes to the transparent character.
There is clearly no shortage of videos of Pete using the Thornbuckers! LOL! Still, check out this great selection of Pete playing five awesome Canadian guitar solos (starting at 2:56):
Ready for some specs?
Thornbucker Bridge (f-spaced)
Series – 9.133 K
Inductance – 5.017 H
North – 4.532 K
South – 4.594 K
Parallel – 2.228 k
Magnet – Alnico 4
Series – 7.407 K
Inductance – 3.611 H
North – 3.667 K
South – 3.733 K
Parallel – 1.8498 k
Magnet – Alnico 5
The Thornbucker set is going to be good for blues, funk, indie, reggae, garage, punk, alternative, classic rock, country, jazz, grunge, blues rock, fusion, and even some heavy rock and I dare say a little bit of metal. This set is great for most any category of Rock you can think of. If there is a purpose that you can conjure for a PAF, the Thornbucker set will handle it.
This is where someone will ask “What about the Thornbucker + Bridge? Hey dude, I get what I can get when I can get it. LOL! If one pops up, I’ll hit it then. Until then, you can check out my articles on Suhr products HERE!
For reference, this Suhr Thornbucker pickup set evaluation was conducted with a Fractal Axe-Fx II XL+ featuring Celestion Impluse Responses and MFC-101 MIDI Foot Controller. Real cabs used were Marshall 1960B cabs loaded with Celestion G12-65s, Vintage 30s and G12M Greenbacks.
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