**Matt Olivo is the founding guitarist of extreme metal trailblazers Repulsion, whose Horrified LP ranks as Decibel's #1 grindcore album of all time. Because we know that every reader ever plays guitar, we brought his print column to the Deciblog. In issue #116 Matt spent some time "hammering on Brent Hinds' bloody, thunderous new pickups" Say what you will about Brent Hinds, but Mastodon’s controversial guitarist/vocalist knows his songwriting and tone. He’s recently begun collaborating with the NASA of guitar pickup companies, Lace, to create his brand new Hammer Claws signature pickup set. The Lace design crew has proven that they can handle just about anything heavy artists want to vomit forth. Other Lace artist signature pup sets include Matt Pike (Dirty Heshers), Wino (Lifers) and Mastodon bandmate Bill Kelliher (Dissonant Aggressors). Obviously, Lace doesn’t piss about when it comes to heavy tone, so when we received the Hammer Claws in the mail we enthusiastically installed them into a rock ‘n’ roll rampart Gibson SG Standard.
Look Hammer Claws have the standard smooth chrome, pole-less cover with epoxy sealed coils in the back. The chrome on all Lace products is durable, brilliant and high-quality. To stand apart from this standard look, Lace laser-etched Hinds’ “Polynesian headdress” face tattoo symbol onto the lower right region. The standard “Lace Sensor” wording keeps it company in the upper left.
Hinds and lead designer Jeff Lace went back and forth with several prototypes. They finally settled on a high-output, bright attack number with a sweet mid-range peak freq. The output is indeed high, but less so than other heavy music-oriented Lace offerings. The balance of output and gain allows for a more versatile pup that a player like Hinds can take into cleaner areas without sacrificing tone. Jeff Lace explained to us that he achieved this design by impressively integrating three (!) different wire gauges into the coil windings, amongst other tech trickery. Suffice it say, it’s a wholly new design—not based on any previous Lace pup.
Sound All this pedigree could only be honored with a simple, balls-to-the-wall amp like our Marshall JCM800 half-stack. In high-gain mode, the bridge pup does not mess around—car crash crunch combines with a sweet classic rock mid-range punch. The high-end sizzles and shimmers with beautiful harmonic and dynamic responses. Low-end is a hard right to the bollocks with a broadened frequency range quite suitable for rock, metal, and even doom. The neck pup snarls and growls with very bad intentions. Complex harmonics reveal themselves in the upper ranges and, again, brilliant dynamic response contributes to this being an overall riff-inspiring design. On the clean side, we weren’t surprised at all to find both pups standing tall with full-fat tone, dynamics, glisten and sparkle.
Summary Lace and Brent Hinds, two made-in-the-USA originals, shine together with the Hammer Claws signature pickup set. In dirty or clean mode, a tonal multiverse is at your behest—Allman Brothers to Amon Amarth. We are floored.
For more info on this and other high-quality pickups, check out: www.lacemusic.com