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Donlis DS53, Analysis and Review ($34.50 USD/set)

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by Antigua, Dec 27, 2016.

  1. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

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    https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Fre...p/531493155.html?spm=2114.13010608.0.0.CGPKLo

    [​IMG]

    I haven't put this set in a Strat yet, so this is a purely technical review, but I'll follow up with my impressions about the subjective experience ASAP.

    These are "Donlis DS53" vintage style Strat pickups that are reasonably vintage correct, with fiber flat work, AlNiCo pole pieces and cloth hookup wire, thought it feels more like a polyester, and it comes in rainbow colors. All in all, I'd say they "GFS grade", with respect to materials.

    This is a "hot set". The loaded peaks of 3.4kHz at the bridge and 3.8kHz for the neck and middle make this set highly comparable to Fender Texas Specials, or Lollar Blackfaces, though the bridge is wound real fat, like a Lollar Special S bridge, or the Lollar "Dirty Blackface" set of three.

    This set cost $35, or about $12 per pickup, a comparably GFS set costs about $80, so we're talking a fraction of a fraction of the cost of typical AlNiCo Strat pickups. So if you're in the market for Lollar Blackface, or any of those "Texas Blues" sets from the numerous boutique brands, it can't hurt to try spending $35 before dropping a whole $280 on the usual domestic recommendations.



    Donlis DS53 Bridge
    DC Resistance: 7.30K
    Inductance: 3.473H
    Calculated C: 90pF (100-10)
    Coil width: 0.6240"

    Resonant Peak: dV: 15.6dB f: 8.55kHz (black)
    Loaded (200k & 470pF): dV: 5.9dB f: 3.40kHz (red)


    Donlis DS53 Middle
    DC Resistance: 6.52K
    Inductance: 2.803H
    Calculated C: 93pF (103-10)
    Coil width: 0.5820"

    Resonant Peak: dV: 14.8dB f: 9.37kHz (green)
    Loaded (200k & 470pF): dV: 6.5dB f: 3.81kHz (gray)



    Donlis DS53 Neck
    DC Resistance: 6.50K
    Inductance: 2.827H
    Calculated C: 92pF (102-10)
    Coil width: 0.5965"

    Resonant Peak: dV: 15.4dB f: 9.37kHz (pink)
    Loaded (200k & 470pF): dV: 6.3dB f: 3.85kHz (black)

    Pole piece flux density: 1150-1250G; featuring a more dramatic bevel, see pics



    Bode plot:

    [​IMG]



    My measured specs are close enough to the Donlis' published specs, which is a great thing, it shows consistency in their product. It's quite surprising to have pickups be so cheap and assure this level of quality.

    The capacitance is remarkably low at ~90pF, and the coils are on the fat side, measuring near 0.6" in width. Fender's pickups mostly measure 0.5", and have capacitances nearer to 130pF, so it seems to be the case that when Strat pickups are consciously wound more loosely, or with a scatter, you end up with about 40pF less capacitance, which helps a pickup remain bright sounding, despite a longer guitar cable. Low capacitance is one of the major selling points of the boutiques, and here's a set that has exactly that, at about an eighth of the cost.

    The pole pieces measure high strength at 1150 to 1250 Gauss, whereas 1050G is typical for alnico 5. I suspect this is because the chamfer around the top of the pole piece is so dramatic, as seen in the pictures. The magnetic strength is the weakest in the center, and becomes stronger towards the edge, so as the edge draws nearer to the center, so does the flux density. You can see in the pictures below that the sharp top of the pole piece measures 1273G, while the flat bottom of the same magnet measures only 942G. This would mean that the guitar string is magnetically charged with a bit stronger and more narrow focus. I'm not sure what tonal consequences this might have. Otherwise, the ratio of inductance to DC resistance, and the Q factors of the pickups, show that the AlNiCo 5 behaves as expected as a core material, so they are of good quality.

    You can also see in the picture below that the bridge, middle, neck designations have been written in by a human's hand - a nice touch, usually only found on the boutiquiest of pickups.



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
    albala, CFFF, Prasanth and 2 others like this.
  2. Newstratbuilder

    Newstratbuilder Strat-Talker

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    Yep definitely looking at these now..the numbers don't lie..and they do look very well made,and the price right up my alley for pickup trial runs,these look like keepers for sure..thank you for the info!!! I like that magnet checker too! I will order this set nexk week for sure,and hopefully my tremolo will come in the mail so I can final assemble my Strat build..The quality looks too good to pass up!
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2016
  3. Davey77

    Davey77 Strat-O-Master

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    Interesting, will wait for a trial review. Have had some surprisingly good sounding rails from ali sellers.
     
  4. JimmyO

    JimmyO Strat-Talker

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    It can hurt the domestic businesses trying to pay a fair wage and benefits to employees while also complying with environment and safety rules. I love your pickup reviews and the time you take compiling all the data and very much appreciate your data driven analysis, but for me I'd rather spend a bit more money for some Duncan's, Fralins, Mojotones, Fenders or Lollars etc in the US or BKPs in the U.K.
     
    jlsantamaria and FormerTeleGuy like this.
  5. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

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    I agree with you in spirit, but we don't know that these negatives are true of Donlis specifically, and the domestic guys aren't just charging a little more, they're charging orders of magnitude more, for literally the same product.
     
    Golem likes this.
  6. Antigua

    Antigua Senior Stratmaster

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    I finally put these into a Strat, one of my most prized Strats in fact, a rare Fender Japan that I kept stock for a long time, but whose ceramic pickups I can tolerate no longer.

    I get the same piano like punch from them that I get from Lollar Blackfaces or Fender Fat 50's. I had to lower the neck pickup on the bass side and raise the treble side to get a good clear tone, though. It also seems that those high flux strength pole pieces readily caused "Stratitus", so lowering the bass side helped with that also.

    I was especially happy with the bridge pickup's sound. The in between quack sounds are great, I've always love the notch sounds with hotter pickups such as Texas Specials.

    Those high chamfer pole pieces looks really nice. They have that random, hand sanded look that just makes the guitar look a bit more hand crafted. Also, all three are 52mm spaced, so swapping the cream covers is easy to do, though I did use the covers that were included with the pickups.

    I also really like the cloth hookup wire they use. It's super slinky and very easy to maneuver around the cavity and electronics.

    This set is good sh.t. If you're in the market for Fat 50s, Blackfaces, Texas Specials, or the like, this set is killer.
     
  7. Slowtwitch

    Slowtwitch New Member!

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    I bought the Donlis Alnico 5&2 mixed set and did a sound comparison to a Fender AM Std on youtube.

    It isn't a proper sound test, but just giving an idea of them referenced to US fender pups
     
    Andrew Wasson and albala like this.
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