Purchased from: Wilde pickups
Sound — 10
I currently own 12 guitars and I try to load them with a variety of pickups to get a wide range of sounds, the Wilde pickup L500XL is a versatile passive pickup. It is a high output pickup, and what it does best in my opinion is transfer the sound of the guitar strings to the amplifier with minimum alteration other than a boost to the signal. It is a very transparent pickup leaving your amp and effects to do their job with an authentic tone from the strings. I find that it can really scream some high gain metal tones but cleans up well, especially when paired with some high quality potentiometers, rolling back the volume or tone controls makes a noticeable difference. With a relatively heavy overdrive sound you can roll back the volume on the guitar and clean the tone up. This pickup has twin blades in place of the standard poll pieces so signal strength is not lost when performing bends. The L500XL is a very quiet pickup in regards to microphonic noise and interference from outside sources. This is the pickup used by Dimebag in all of his faithful Dean ML guitars.
Reliability & Durability — 10
These pickups can be custom made to order with different wiring, shielding, and color options. The company does not advertise so they rely on word of mouth and reputation (Bill Lawrence is the Godfather of replacement pickups) and they are able to sell their products at killer low prices. I custom ordered a set (L500XL/L500R) for $120+ tax for the pair, a great deal for a USA handmade custom shop pickups (compared to custom shop pups from the major brands), it took about a month to receive them but it was worth the wait. I was impressed by the pickups when they arrived they looked and felt like a quality product, they felt solid and appeared to be well crafted, the pickups come with special mounting rings and there is no gap between the pickup and the ring which has a very clean look. The pickups are set into a plastic tray which eliminates the microphonic noise caused by outside interference, they trays can be black or chrome plated which are un-shielded or shielded respectively. I have had these for about two years now and have no issues with them they are a high quality product and built to last.
Overall Impression — 10
I play mostly metal but also classic rock and I even dabble in some surf and rockabilly and this pickup does well at all of these styles, it excels at high gain rock and metal tones. Through my Mesa Roadster Dual Rectifier 2x12 combo it can get really clean as the Mesa has clean channels that are "Fender" clean crank up the reverb and it gets some really nice surf guitar tones. I have a Peavey 6505+ 120 watt head and a 4x12 cabinet loaded with Eminence Patriot Swamp Thang and Texas Heat speakers and whether I use the Peavey or the Mesa through the 4x12 the L500XL gets some blazing metal tones from '80s thrash tones to modern high gain. I have EMG's, DiMarzio as well as Seymour Duncan pickups loaded is some of my other guitars the L500XL has all the tone and quality for about half the price. Interesting to note that a young Larry DiMarzio learned the craft of making pickups while he was an apprentice to Bill Lawrence.
If you want a versatile high quality handmade in USA pickup you should give these a try; you can find them online by searching for "Wilde Pickups" you won't find any advertising for them in magazines or online.