May 9, 2012
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:This is a very simple way to hot rod your guitar.


The Bottom Line: These Lace Sensors sound great, and they are virtually noiseless.


           Years ago if you did not like the sound of the pickups in your guitar, your only option was to find a new guitar that had pickups in it that had the sound that you liked.  Fortunately, all of that began to change when companies like DiMarzio and Seymour Duncan began to make replacement pickups for guitars.  However, replacing the pickups in a guitar was not an easy job for the average person, as they either did not have the expertise to it, or the tools required for the task. This also has changed, as now a number of companies make replacement pickups that are attached and prewired to a pickguard, and it is relatively easy to just unscrew the old pickguard and drop in a new one.  One of the easiest to install preloaded pickguards is made by the Lace Company.  The preloaded pickguard that I will be discussing today is the Lace Sensor Hot Gold Loaded Pickguard, which is designed to replace the pickups in a guitar that is modeled after a single coil 3-pickup guitar, such as a Fender Stratocaster. This preloaded, prewired pickguard comes with a set of three very good sounding Lace Sensors.  Read on and see if this particular prewired pickguard sounds like something that you might want to look into if you should happen to be considering replacing the pickups in your guitar.

           Since price is always an important consideration when I am making a decision to purchase something, I think that this might be a good place to start. The Lace Sensor Hot Gold Loaded Pickguard has a list price of $324.99, but it can readily be found selling at a discount from most of the large national musical instrument chain stores and better Internet dealers for as little as $229.95.  This is actually a very good deal.  If you were to consider buying a set of three replacements pickups, such as the Lace Sensor Hot Gold with Hot Bridge 3 Pack, this would cost you $179.99, and you would not get the pickguard and the pots, plus you would have to set the pickups individually in your current pickguard and wire each one to the guitar.  For an extra $50, I think it makes a lot of sense to get the preloaded pickguard version of this pickup set.  It will cut down considerably on the time and effort that you need to expend to install the preloaded set, as compared to individually installing the three pickups separately.  However, the choice is yours, as the pickups are the same. 

          Well what are Lace Sensor Hot Gold Pickups, and how are they different from the traditional Lace Sensor Gold Pickups?  That’s a good question.  When Lace Sensor Gold Pickups were originally introduced to the public, they were billed as being the closest thing yet to duplicating the sound of a vintage single coil Fender Stratocaster Pickup from the 1950’s, while at the same time being dubbed as “noiseless.” These pickups were known as Fender Lace Sensor Gold Pickups, and they were quickly adapted to the Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster. In 2001, Fender switched to Fender Vintage Noiseless Pickups for the Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster. As various types of rock music have evolved, some musicians were looking for a single coil size pickup that had a bit more power, beef, and bite than the traditional Gold Lace Sensors, but which still retained a Stratocaster like sound, and yet were still noiseless.  In response to this demand, the Lace Music Products Company developed a new, hotter, beefier version of the original Lace Sensor Gold, and this pickup is appropriately known as the Lace Sensor Hot Gold Pickup.  How does the Lace Sensor Hot Gold Pickup differ from the traditional Lace Sensor Gold Pickup? Yes, you guessed it, the Lace Sensor Hot Gold Pickup is “Hotter.” The Lace Sensor Hot Gold has a Resistance of 6.0k, as compared to the traditional Gold Sensor which has a Resistance of 5.8k, which in simple terms means that it is slightly more powerful. The Hot Gold Sensors also use “Hot Magnets,” specifically Barium Ferrite Magnets. The result is a pickup that has a full rich low end, as well a sparklingly clear upper end, like a traditional vintage single coil, but it also has a warm midrange as well. The result is a pickup that has all the vintage sound characteristics of the world famous Lace Sensor Gold Pickup, but which also has the extra added power and output demanded by today’s modern players, including a deep bass, sweet midrange, and sparkling highs. 

          Since most people who would be considering Lace Sensors as replacement pickups might be doing so because they are looking for a noiseless pickup, I should discuss this aspect of the Hot Gold Lace Sensors.  Firstly, is the Lace Sensor Hot Gold Pickup as “noiseless” and quiet as a traditional Lace Sensor Gold?  The answer is “Yes.” The patented Lace Micro Combs (similar to the bobbins on a traditional single coil Pickup) and Barium Ferrite Magnets are shielded by Radiant Field Barriers (metal slides which frame the sides of the pickup). These barriers serve to shield the core of the sensor as well as reduce noise and unwanted hum typically associated with a single coil pickup.  These Radiant Field Barriers produce a more concentrated magnetic field than a single coil pickup with a more traditional design. The result is that the Lace Sensor Hot Gold Pickup is very efficient, as well as being highly sensitive. Because of the efficiency of the magnetic sensing field, a less intense magnetic field is needed to capture the sound of the vibrating strings on the guitar. The result is that there is less pull on the strings from the pickups, and consequently this makes for less string dampening, which in turn enables a note to sustain longer and stronger than with a traditional pickup. With a traditional single coil pickup, one must weigh how close one wants to let their pickups be to the strings on the guitar. The closer a vibrating guitar string is to a strong magnetic field of a traditional pickup, the less sustain the guitar will have simply because of the dampening effects of the magnetic pull of the pickup on the string. On the other hand, because the Lace Sensor Hot Gold is so efficient and has such a focused sensing field, it can use weaker magnets than a traditional pickup. The result is that one can adjust the Lace Sensor Hot Gold Pickups to be just as close as one likes to the vibrating strings of the guitar, without the risk of string dampening, or the dreaded “Stratitis” that comes from raising the height of a single coil pickup too close to the strings.  To those who are not familiar with the term “Stratitis” I will explain what it does and what it is.  Stratitis causes a warbling dissonant sound which is caused by the magnetic pull of a single coil pickup that is too close to the strings of a guitar.  One does not ever have to worry about “Stratitis” when setting the pickup height with any of the Lace Sensor series of pickups.  I have the Lace Sensors on one of my Fender Stratocasters very close to the strings, and there is simply no problem from magnetic pull. 

          Well what does a Hot Gold Lace Sensor sound like?  The Lace Sensor Hot Gold Pickup is a pickup with a remarkable sustain, and a deep, rich, full sound. The sound is clear, and yet quite commanding. When strumming chords, each note is individually clear and defined. Although the sound has a bit more midrange to it than a traditional single coil modern Fender Stratocaster pickup, it does not have the pronounced midrange sound of a humbucking pickup. To my ear, when it is cranked up on a good amp, the sound is rich, clear, and full, and sounds very much like Ritchie Blackmore’s sound when he was in Deep Purple. For those who are technically minded, the Hot Gold Lace Sensor has a Resistance of 6.0k Ohms, and an Inductance of 2.2 henries.   The Hot Bridge Lace Sensor has a Resistance of 13.2k and an Inductance of 6.0 henries.

          The Lace Sensor Hot Gold Loaded Pickguard comes with three single coil sized Lace Sensor pickups, specifically two Hot Gold Sensors and a Hot Bridge Lace Sensor.  The Hot Gold Sensors are positioned in the Neck and Middle positions of the pickguard, and the Hot Bridge Sensor is, you guessed it, positioned in the Bridge position on the preloaded and prewired pickguard. This prewired pickguard is designed to simply slip into the place that the original Fender Stratocaster pickguard and pickups fit into.  I can not speak to other guitars that are Stratocaster copies, but on an American Stratocaster, the Lace Sensor Hot Gold Loaded Pickguard fits perfectly, and all of the screw holes are perfectly aligned.  On some other Stratocaster copies, the shape of the guitar may be the same as a Fender Stratocaster, but the screw holes that hold the pickguard in place are very apt to be at least slightly off.  But, all things considered, this is a problem that can easily be remedied during installation.  Once the old pickguard and pickups are removed, the Lace Sensor Hot Gold Loaded Prewired Pickguard is very easy to install.  One just needs to solder the ground from the guitar to one of the pots, and then attach the lead wire to the output jack.  All that is then left to do is to screw the pickguard to the body, and one is done. The whole transformation process can be accomplished in about 30 minutes from start to finish.  The Tone and Volume Controls that come with the Lace Sensor Hot Gold Loaded Pickguard work just fine, and the 5-position blade switch also works just fine.  The Lace Sensors are noiseless, and the tonal variation is amazing.  In short, installing the Lace Sensor Hot Gold Pickguard is such a simple process, that almost anyone can do it, even the inexperienced.  It does however take a bit of courage for a novice to attempt to perform this operation.

          Well I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my review. But now if you will excuse me, I must get back to my practicing.

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