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Black VS Grey bottoms; any diff?

Discussion in 'Pre-CBS Strats (before 1966)' started by Jonny Hotnuts, Jun 26, 2014.

  1. Jonny Hotnuts

    Jonny Hotnuts Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 7, 2013
    I have an early 64 (L22) and it has black bottoms but I have noticed later 64s have grey bottoms.

    Was there any difference in the pickups other than the color?

    Is one more valuable?

    Just wondering,

  2. candyapple1964

    candyapple1964 Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 9, 2014
    Earlier == more valuable as far as what people pay for them its seems. Thus the black bottom ones seem to fetch more.

    As to whats more 'desirable' I don't know. There are subtle differences in all the pickups - you get good ones, great ones and mediocre ones, black or grey.

    There has been a general trend from real early to mid - late 60's to get hotter, more winding maybe.. But even that is a guess.
  3. echoes71

    echoes71 Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 15, 2013
    Actually at the late 60's they drop down and are less hot. This goes into the 70's as well.

    1954 to 1967 Fender Stratocaster Pickup Specs
    Year Ohms Wire OD Insulation Turns WD MP Wound
    1954 5.76k .0030" Formvar 7956 TL/TG North Hand
    1955 5.89k .0029" Formvar 7844 TL/TG North Hand
    1956 5.98k .0029" Formvar 8012 TL/TG North Hand
    1957 6.02k .0029" Formvar 8105 TL/TG North Hand
    1958 6.20k .0028" Formvar 8350 TL/TG North Hand
    1959 5.95k .0030" Formvar 7925 TL/TG North Hand
    1960 6.33k .0028" Formvar 8293 TL/TG South Hand
    1961 6.19k .0029" Formvar 8119 TL/TG South Hand
    1962 6.22k .0028" Formvar 8220 TL/TG South Hand
    1963 6.37k .0028" Formvar 8319 TL/TG South Hand
    1964 6.25k .0027" Formvar/Enamel 7980 TL/TG South Hand
    January 4, 1965, CBS bought Fender Musical Instruments.
    1965 5.80k .0026" Plain Enamel 7626 TL/TG South Machine
    1966 5.76k .0026" Plain Enamel 7630 TL/TG South Machine
    1967 5.88k .0027" Plain Enamel 7656 TL/TG South Machine
    Year Ohms Wire OD Insulation Turns WD MP Wound
  4. Opienor

    Opienor Strat-Talker

    May 21, 2012
    Oslo, Norway
    Here are my two cents on tone:)

    I only have very limited vintage experience, just my 62 (slabboard and black bottoms) and 64 (curved board and grey bottoms) Strats. But I have compared them a lot.
    I don´t know how much of the sound differences that can be attributed to the pickups alone, but the guitars do sound very different in my ears.
    The 62 has a very round, huge and sort of bubbly sound with lots of mids and lows. I feel most modern Strats sound a lot like this. Very classic Strat tone.
    The 64 is a lot twangier with a more focused but sort of narrower sound. A little less mids and lows and little of that bubbly/bell like sound. Almost like there is a little Tele somewhere in there. Great for funk!

    The 64 ohm readings are hotter than the 62:

    1962 Stratocaster, black pickups:
    Weight: 7,58 lbs
    Neck – 6,05KOhm
    Middle – 5,77KOhm
    Bridge – 6,37KOhm

    1964 Stratocaster, grey pickups:
    Weight: 8,0 lbs
    Neck - 6,85KOhm
    Middle - 6,75KOhm
    Bridge - 6,65KOhm

    Would be interesting to hear other folks´experiences too!
  5. BlackBottom

    BlackBottom Strat-Talk Member

    Jun 5, 2014
    Country of all arts
    Black bottoms were wax potted, with formvar wire.
    Grey bottoms were not wax potted, with plain enamel wire.
    The former darker, deeper, cleaner and more detailed/sensitive to touch, with more focused presence.
    The latter brighter, with janglier note attack, less fat and more screaming under distortion, and more bell-like singing on cleans.
    One guitar with each for me, thanks barman:)
  6. candyapple1964

    candyapple1964 Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 9, 2014

    I only own one - 1964 CAR. But I did play a lot of them in my time :) And this pretty much matches my experiences - In general anything slab rosewood seemed to have hot pickups, and bigger sound than later in the guitars I have played but appart from that the trend seemed to be 'hotter'.

    My 64 has black bobbins ( May 64 on the neck stamp ) and the pickups are very soft compared to any other strat I have played. The windings measure less than 6.2 - about 5.8-5.9 on the neck and middle and the bridge pickup being a shade under 6.2

    Note I only guessed how the pickups tended to go - assuming as music got heavier, players were wanting hotter pickups. STrats went the opposite direction it seems according to stats and evidence :)
  7. BlackBottom

    BlackBottom Strat-Talk Member

    Jun 5, 2014
    Country of all arts
    1960 with BB north polarity and 5,7/5,9/5,9 bridge->neck
    1964 with BB south polarity and 5,7/5,9/6,2 bridge->neck

    I found generally the less output, the brighter and more percussive/immediate, while the more the output, fatter on mids and more bluesy. Still each one with its own tone, regardless. Well, that holds true for any pickup..
    From my experience, early CBS era 65/66 has the greatest outputs, up to 6.5 (which compensate the thinner grey bottom tone greatly IMO), 68/69 to 74 most often under 6K or even 5.5, coupled with 0.5 tone cap were the brightest and more aggressive.
    Pre-cbs era varied greatly, could not find consistent necks, just general trends year to year but with many oddities here and there!
  8. Pre_Cbs_Fender

    Pre_Cbs_Fender Strat-Talker

    Jul 28, 2013
    Fullerton, CA
    It's a pretty interesting question, as each year had subtle changes to materials and tooling.. after playing a lot of pre-cbs strat's I'd say the biggest consistency is inconsistency...

    Every 1954-1965 pickup will have different magnet strength, output, overall o.d. and i.d. on windings etc. You could line up 100 Original 1957 Black bottom Stratocaster pickups and each one would have it's own properties you would like or dislike. Each one would sound different..
    sensei likes this.
  9. echoes71

    echoes71 Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 15, 2013
    Even the later ones are inconsistent, I have 2 sets of 71 pickups and they are not the same either, same year and all. I won't say they are off by a HUGE amount, but they are certainly not the same.
  10. gretev

    gretev New Member!

    Oct 22, 2013
    -black bottom pickups 1954-1964: wound with formvar wire, yields a very clear and balanced tone.
    -grey bottom pickups 1964: wound with enamel wire, yields a typical scooped mid tone.
    -grey bottom pickups 1965: wound with polysol wire, yields a more pronounced midrange tone with an upper midrange "squawk".
    -grey bottom pickups 1966 - future years: wound with enamel wire, same tone as 1964 Strat, scooped mids, typical Hendrix tone.
  11. stratman323

    stratman323 Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2010
    London, UK
  12. Mipstoo

    Mipstoo Senior Stratmaster

    Mar 18, 2013
    Rockingham Palace
    You like to resurrect old threads? ;)

    Normally when a post is +2 years old, we start a new one over here :D

    Wire change happened around the same time the winding procedure changed.
    As far as I know polysol is only used in later pickups and not pre-cbs or early cbs period, but end '60s early '70's

    The comment from another poster earlier, stating that the late 60's drop down in value and are less hot is true but because of the difference in insulation and the inductance of the wires it was necessary to obtain a more or less similar sound.
  13. Bazz Jass

    Bazz Jass Chairman of the Fingerboard Strat-Talk Supporter

    Nov 19, 2014
    Up a lazy river
    Whoa whoa whaoa! Is this the ghost of Christmas threads past.....

    Bah humbug!
    T Guitar Floyd likes this.