HRO-1 Rocker review by Kent Armstrong

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 10 (1 vote)
Kent Armstrong: HRO-1 Rocker

Price paid: £ 50

Purchased from: WD Music

Sound — 10
I own both the Ceramic & Alnico 'Rocker' pickups in separate guitars, both in the neck position & both paired with the Kent Armstrong 'Motherbucker'. Although the Rocker is almost half the output of it's extremely HOT counterpart, it balances very well and provides versatility with blues to hard rock application as well as a great clean tone which the Motherbucker lacks. The Alnico Rocker offers a darker sound than the Ceramic option and in my experience, significantly darker in the neck. Gothic Les Paul - Rocker (Alnico) - Neck I'm partial to bass heavy tone but I found the Alnico type produces too much boom playing at a loud volume but nothing that can't be tweaked through an EQ. The clean tone is capable of warm chords and if your a Jazz enthusiast, roll off the volume and tone a bit and avoid any honks for smooth lead work. Turn on the overdrive and you get a great blues/vintage rock tone, adding distortion can get slightly muddy but backing off the gain helps the pickup return to a defined thick tone. 50's Stratocaster - Rocker (Ceramic) - Neck After mentioning the Alnico bottom end problem to my luthiers, they suggested the Ceramic option in the neck of a new project. At first I felt it lacked the typical neck thickness but again, this is something that can be tweaked via EQ. Having spent a significant time with the guitar, I'm very glad I went with the option! The Ceramic Rocker in the neck provides more pronunciation in the mids and less bottom end giving it a great clarity and a slight single coil Strat type snap. I also have it with a coil tap option which increases the snap, adding further clarity but of course a drop in volume. The Ceramic Rocker in the neck offers sparkling cleans and a more defined blues/rock tone against the all out howl of the Motherbucker. You can hear the Ceramic Rocker and it's amazing cleans on my bands latest EP "The Rapture", check out the track "Change" to hear the pickup in action!

Overall Impression — 10
I have a Ceramic Rocker in the neck of my 50's Daphne Blue Strat and an Alnico Rocker in the same position of a Gothic Les Paul, both paired with the Kent Armstrong Motherbucker. I'm currently playing in Punk/Hard Rock band Delayed and although the sound demands high gain, the use of good clean tones is also required. In a new Jackson Dinky project I've decided to load it with two Rockers for a perfect amount of tone application. If your looking for something with a great range of versatility, the Rocker should definitely be on your list to consider just don't let it's cheaper price tag fool you, I cannot recommend the quality of these pickups enough!

Reliability & Durability — 9
Both of my Rocker pickups have Chrome covers and look great! I've given this section a 9 as Kent Armstrong pickups have no intention of being overly flashy but you can't ignore that other pickup brands are very impressive aesthetically as well as offering multiple cover and custom options. I only have Kent Armstrong pickups installed in my guitar and I have never had any problems with over the 6+ years I've used them! Pickups I own and use include:

  • Hot Rails
  • PAF Plus
  • Rocker (Alnico)
  • Rocker (Ceramic)
  • Super Distortion
  • Motherbucker

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