Price paid: $ 40
Purchased from: guitarpartsonline.com
Sound: The DragonFire Crusaders are Seymour Duncan Invader clones that end up sounding better than the real thing. What's wrong with the Invader the Crusaders get right. I directly compared the bridge invader to the bridge crusader in the same guitars, a mahogany body and neck ESP LTD FX-260, and a basswood LTD M-10, playing through a 5150 combo with Celestions.
The Crusaders bridge is HOT at 16k while the neck is 8k. They have more highs and slightly more bass than the invader. The Crusaders sounded the same at first but the more I played the more I heard the highs come through and sound more clear. Playing some of my go to riffs, I didn't have to struggle with the eq on the amp like I did with the Invader. I did have to push the presence knob to 7 from 6 and the resonance to 6 from 8 where I usually have it.
I wired them up to coil split as I love the sound that produces in the middle position. They sounded pretty average clean. As humbuckers you can hear it sounding very middy, but coil split they sounded better and more clear. Very usable and versatile. You can get some good funk and ska tones with the coils split.
On the bridge pickup, high gain metal sounded dark with thick tight bass and clear highs and a generally more open sound then the invaders. I played some generic metalcore and thrash riffs and was able to get some good usable tones with very few adjustments. If you're into more Judas Priest Iron Maiden AC/DC older rock and metal stuff I wouldn't recommend them. They're more modern voiced. With a 5150 with size 11 to 52 strings drop c metal these just kill.
The neck pickup seems a little weak when it comes to saturation but they were way better than the stock pickups that were in the LTD M-10.
In fact these sounded better in the cheap basswood than mahogany. There was too much bass and it got muddy in the mahogany. I think an alder body guitar with a maple neck and fretboard would be ideal for these pickups. // 9
Reliability & Durability: They seem okay they look like Invaders but upon closer inspection they look and feel very cheap. The hex caps look very dull and aren't the same ones Seymour Duncan uses. The Invaders look nicer and more expensive and feel heavier. But these are half the price for two so you're getting what you pay for. It has plenty of wire for whatever way you plan on installing them. The wires seemed cheap as well but as long as they stay in your guitar I don't see them breaking or falling apart. I would depend on them as they are just pickups. // 7
Overall Impression: I like that they are very affordable and sound similar to a more expensive pickup that cost twice as much just for one. They sound alot better then the stock ESP pickups it replaced making my cheap practice guitar into something I can use for recording or possibly a show.
What I don't like are the cheap looking hex caps and that they feel flimsy like they will fall apart in your hand.
I would recommend the crusaders to someone who has an extra guitar lying around they don't want to spend a lot of money on or a beginner looking for something hotter and affordable. If they don't sound as good as I described then you're out only 40 bucks. I really wanted to not like these pickups and wasn't expecting much as I have had bad experiences with Guitarpartsonline stuff but I have to give them props on these. I rated these according to the price paid and directly compared to what its trying to copy. While these are great, I'm never using the Invader again, I still prefer EMGs and Seymour Duncan pickups on my main guitars. // 8