Price paid: $ 90
Purchased from: Won in a contest direct from Phil
Sound — 9
For those of you reading this who don't know what TDM Pickups is: TDM is a custom-wound pickup company headed by Phil Timpson, aka nuthinbuttrubl8 here on UG. After I won his logo contest, he contacted me asking what kind of pickup I wanted: he works with each customer individually to determine what kind of pickup best suits their needs. I told him I wanted a bridge pickup with relatively high output, dirty but not muddy overdriven tone, and good cleans as well. He said that in his experience the SHO 5 (this is a humbucking pickup, by the way) would be best for me. Boy does it deliver. I'm playing straight through a small Vox tube amp, and this pickup sounds great. Grunty palm mutes, great overdrive tone. This pickup goes from AC/DC to Sex Pistols to some metal and everywhere in between. I was really impressed on how good it sounds clean. Previously I'd have to avoid my bridge altogether when playing clean; now I actually like my clean bridge tone. My SHO 5 is great all across the tonal spectrum. Not too trebly, not too middy, never muddy. I would say that it should be adjusted further away from the strings than a "regular," mid-output pickup... I forgot to compensate for the increase in output and the pickup was initially muddy due to its closeness to the strings. Let your strings get broken in before really playing the SHO 5 is my other word of advice, it definitely lets you know you've got new strings on there ;) I asked for a bridge pickup, I got a bridge pickup. I wouldn't've thought about putting it in the neck position. That's my next purchase from Phil.
Overall Impression — 10
Love: - Great satisfaction guarantee. - Exactly what I asked for. - Great customer service (the whole working with me to figure out what kind of pickup I'm after. He even takes your gear and playing style into account!) Hate: - Can't really think of anything. The fact that it doesn't like new strings? I don't like new strings either though... I installed this in an Epiphone Les Paul. Mahogany body and neck, maple top, rosewood fretboard. When I finish my guitar build, it will be going in that: Padauk body, sapele/flame maple neck, rosewood fretboard. The SHO 5 is a bridge pickup. I put it in the bridge.
Reliability & Durability — 10
The pickup definitely seems like it will last. It felt solid in my hands and the wires looked good coming out of the pickup. Phil has an awesome satisfaction guarantee: if you don't like the tone of the pickup you get, send it back and he'll either rewind it or replace the magnets. You can do this until he gets it right. IMO best return policy in the business. I can definitely depend on it. The wiring isn't going to come loose and it's solidly in my guitar. It'll do its job spectacularly... until I finish my build and put it in my new guitar ;)