Quite rightly, the Squier Classic Vibe range of guitars and basses have received universal praise since their release, the build quality, look and tonal qualities far exceed expectations for their modest price and are regularly compared favourably to higher priced Fender models.
For some time there has been rumours that the Classic Vibe series use pickups made by a company called Tonerider. Tonerider produce high quality pickups retailing at around £80 per set, a price that is half that of many of their competitors. Just like the Classic Vibe guitars themselves, Tonerider pickups have also received almost universal praise and compare favourably to much higher priced ’boutique’ pickups.
It’s hard to get a straight answer on this but rumours vary from them just being made in the same factory to them actually being exactly the same pickups. If Squier Classic Vibe’s do use Tonerider pickups it would go a long way to explaining why they sound so good and makes them an even bigger bargain.
I have done lots of reading and research on this with the help of several guitar forums. This is what I found:
To all intents and purposes the CV pickups are Toneriders but that will never be confirmed due to legal issues etc..
I’ve done a lot of reading around this and bought some CV pickups for my strat, they look and sound EXACTLY like Toneriders.
The similarities that have been confirmed on various threads (some of it coming directly from Tonerider themselves) between Tonerider and CV pickups are:
They are made in the same factory
They are made by the same OEM producer
They look the same
They sound the same
They have the same product numbers
The measured output is the same.
The only perceivable difference is the Toneriders have vintage cloth cable, the CV only have plastic covered cable. There are clearly many similarities but the fact they share the same product/model numbers is the most telling factor for me, that’s just too much of a coincidence for them not to be the same product. For example the product code for the Classic Blues pickups is TRS3, oddly enough the sticker on the underside of the Classic Vibe 60’s pickups also says ‘TRS3’. I can see no reason for this other than them actually being the same pickups. According to several posts the TRS in the product name stands for ToneRider Stratocaster (followed by model number), an understandable naming convention for TR to use. If they aren’t the same product made by ToneRider, why would the CV pickups have the same model number and naming convention?
I’m of the belief that they are the same pickups but for various business/legal/marketing reasons that can’t be officially stated. I remember one post where someone contacted tonerider to ask if they’re the same and was told “if you like the sound of the CV 50’s pickups then you’ll be VERY, VERY satisfied with the Tonerider Surfari’s”
I don’t know about the Telecaster parallels but as I understand it the CV 50’s strat uses Tonerider Surfari’s, the CV 60’s strat uses Tonerider Classic Blues and the CV signature strats use Tonerider Vintage Classics.
I was going to buy some Classic Blues for my MIM strat but ended up getting CV 60’s pickups for a 1/3 of the price. They sound fantastic, were considerably better than the stock MIM pickups and compared to my friends CV 60’s strat, neither of us can tell the slightest difference between them.