Fender Pickups

Discussion in 'Pickup Forum' started by BuffaloHound, Aug 23, 2021.

  1. BuffaloHound

    BuffaloHound Strat-O-Master

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    Anyone have some good resources on understanding PUP technical data? And maybe how it relates to the sound?
    I know nothing about guitar electronics (PUPs and pots, I guess). I want to arm myself with info before I consider upgrading Vintera electronics for CS stuff. Also, anyone have these types of readings/specs for the stock Vintera stuff?
     
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  2. Antstrat

    Antstrat Dr. Stratster

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    In my opinion reading too much technical data will only make a person overthink.

    Listen to some YouTube clips, post what tone you have and don’t like about it and what you are looking for.

    This just helps you whittle down the list but brass tacks, buy/install/play is the only true answer.

    Btw Fender makes great pickups and they will have something for you.

    Oh and specify FENDER ONLY for those who can’t read or you’ll get 500 answers none regarding fender.
     
  3. BuffaloHound

    BuffaloHound Strat-O-Master

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    Thanks. I’m not looking to dive too deep. I just wanna understand what people are talking about when they say their pots read 1.21 gigawatts. [​IMG]
     
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  4. Antstrat

    Antstrat Dr. Stratster

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    LOL! Got it!
     
  5. CattleDog73

    CattleDog73 Strat-Talker

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    This is a decent source for the basics:

    https://www.fender.com/articles/gear/a-guide-to-fender-single-coil-stratocaster-pickups

    I second not getting too hung up on specs. Demos will give you a good idea, but until they’re in your guitar and playing through your amps you won’t know for sure.

    Also - adjusting pickup height, different strings, and different amp settings can breathe new life into pickups so my advice is to make sure you give any pickup a solid audition before moving on.
     
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  6. Chipss36

    Chipss36 Strat-O-Master

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    On the tele forums are a few who understand inductance on pickups.
    Fender lists this, and it is a much better way to understand the tone of a pickup than resistance. It takes time a bunch of pickups, a database, note taking…it’s complex, and limited cost wise.

    this is a deep rabbit hole, one I have been down pretty deep, and have about 50 sets of pickups in a drawer.

    And the pickups that run in my guitars, just took a long haul to get to the place that I am confident that I have got everything possible out of the instrument.

    As one who is an engineer by trade, and understand a little about pickup specs.

    I would study it, but part of that is exposing yourself to the tone of as many pickups as you can, be it YouTube, the music store, friends what ever. Better Pickups have a feel to them, you will not feel a thing by just YouTube.

    some pickups can be Great pickups, but just not work with some guitars.

    I also think many things exist with pickups and guitars we just do not understand yet.

    pick a reference tone, be it vintage strat, or metal strat, what ever, see who plays what, with the style you pick.

    and you may have to rinse and repeat, a few times…
    I sure did, I also feel it was totally worth my time.
     
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  7. jwag

    jwag Strat-O-Master

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    If you wanna sell the Vintera pickups….let me know!
     
  8. jwag

    jwag Strat-O-Master

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    I have a couple Classic Series 60’s Strat’s and was gonna swap out the pickups right away. At the moment they’re staying put. I’d definitely listen to some YouTube videos and try researching the pickups you’re interested in. In my experience knowing what sound you’re after will help you make a better decision.
     
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  9. Jesse414

    Jesse414 Senior Stratmaster

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    Most people just talk about the resistance of a pickup to get a general idea what the pickup will sound like. Its measured in kila ohms. Vintage strats seamed to measure between 4 to maybe 5.5 k . Vintage hot somewhere between 6 to 7 or 8. And then more modern pickups started from maybe 8 to 13.5 k . I know I have not posted exact info its just ballpark estimates. Any way I would follow Antstrats suggestions and figure out what type music you like or what player has the sound you like and then people here could point you in the right direction. Cheers
     
  10. guitarchaeologist

    guitarchaeologist El Salado Guitartist Silver Member

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    Many, including myself, believe the greatest influence on your tone is your hands. SO, don't put to much stock in watching videos of guys that play great and run a (often undisclosed) high-tech rig.
    If you fall down that rabbit-hole, it's sure to be a never-ending guest.
    IMO, the pickups you have should be great. I'd start by watching some demos of guitars with those and you'll see what I mean about good players making almost any pickup sound good.
     
  11. AJBaker

    AJBaker Strat-Talker

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    Most specs don't mean much on their own unfortunately, since a pickup's sound is determined by the interacting of a bunch of other specs and parts, and focusing on one can be a bit misleading.


    The resistance in (kOhm) is easy to measure with any multimeter, and is often used when comparing pickups.

    To explain:
    The more wire you wind onto a bobbin, the higher the output, and the greater the resistance you'll measure.

    A normal stratocaster pickup will measure about 6k. If the pickup maker keeps on winding it until the bobbin is full, it might measure 7-8k, and be significantly higher output. In this case, higher resistance = higher output, since all other factors are the same.

    However, things are rarely that simple. Here are a few examples:

    A normal strat pickup is made with 42awg wire (0.0025mm diameter). You could however make the pickup with thinner 43awg wire (0.0022mm), like winders typically use for tele neck pickups. In that case, if you make that pickup with the same number of turns to get about the same output, the pickup might measure about 9k, since thinner wire has more resistance per metre.
    Btw, this can also happen when a winder puts more tension on the wire. It thins out slightly, so the coil will measure a bit more.


    Conversely, if you flatten the pickup shape and make the bobbin like on a Jazzmaster, each turn of the pickup uses more wire, since the coil is much wider. This means that you could make a Jazzmaster pickup with the same wire and the same number of turns as the 6k strat pickup, and it might measure 7k. Plus, since the coil has a different shape with certain parts closer to the strings or farther from the magnets than on a strat, the sound won't be the same as a strat pickup.


    To summarise: resistance in kOhm (usually abbreviated to k) is the easiest way to measure a pickup, and is useful for getting a general idea about its sound, provided you have an idea about the other specs.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2021
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  12. soulman969

    soulman969 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Learn from the best. Bill Lawrence was the Godfather of Replacement Pickups.

    http://www.billlawrence.com/

    Bill Lawrence
    Visit Bill Lawrence's website to learn about pickups, his patents, and more!

    www.billlawrence.com



    The Man: Bill Lawrence
    "Over Half A Century of Guitar Innovations and Still Going Strong"

    Musician

    The Bill Lawrence story began literally in the rubble of World War II. A tall, skinny teenager from the outskirts of Cologne, Germany had injured himself experimenting with a home-made rocket-propelled bicycle and could no longer play his violin, so he took up a new instrument: the electric guitar. Inspired by the records of pioneer electric guitarists like Oscar Moore, Barney Kessel, and recording innovator Les Paul, young Willi soon became known as "Hot Bill" for his uncanny ability to play guitar solos with the high-speed drive of celebrated jazz players like Charlie Parker and, in 1948, he already made his first pickup to amplify his already-impressive sound so he could be heard over the powerful horns and drums of post-war jazz bands!


    Within a couple of years, Bill was enjoying a thriving career headlining shows on American military bases mostly in Europe, on the same stages as American stars ranging from Roy Acuff and Hank Williams to Dinah Washington and Sam Cooke. Bill's performing life continued to flourish through the '50s, initially going by the stage name "Billy Lorento" and becoming the first major endorser of German-made Framus guitars and strings with his own signature model. By the early '60s, his professional name had permanently become "Bill Lawrence," and he formalized his commitment to the great American guitars he'd always loved by signing on as a Fender endorser.


    Designer

    In the mid-'60s, Bill, with two partners, started a company in Germany, Lawrence Electro Sounds, offering his designs "Lawrence True-Sound Pickups" to the German guitar manufacturers. Bill came to America in the late '60s, quickly becoming established in the thriving music scene of New York's Greenwich Village. His innovative Lawrence Audio electric piano became a favorite of artists ranging from Stevie Wonder to Miles Davis. He designed pickups for MicroFrets, and he teamed up with fellow electric guitar wizard Dan Armstrong on several projects, eventually taking over Dan's custom shop when Dan moved to England -- a true mecca for New York's most demanding players. It was there that Bill continued his work of rebuilding pickups to eliminate their internal flaws, flaws he'd discovered over many years as a player striving to improve his own guitars. He also developed new pickups for retrofitting into existing guitars, thus essentially inventing the aftermarket replacement guitar pickup. Among Bill's apprentices in those days were Dan Armstrong's teenaged son, Kent, and a local kid named Larry DiMarzio.



    Bill's exceptional reputation in New York soon caught the attention of Gibson, who lured him away with a contract as a guitar and pickup designer, eventually putting him in full charge of design at their famed Kalamazoo, Michigan factory. There, Bill immediately applied what he had learned over the years, revolutionizing both the efficiency and consistency of Gibson's pickup department as well as designing instruments that are among the best (and best-kept secrets) in Gibson's storied history, including the remarkably versatile L6-S solid-body guitar and the unique lightweight Ripper bass.


    While maintaining his consulting relationship with Gibson, by the mid-'70s Bill had moved to the Nashville area at the suggestion of his friend Chet Atkins. There, he introduced the very successful FT-145 soundhole pickup for acoustic guitars, the first noisefree pickup in Fender single-coil size -- the single-blade L-220, his legendary L-90 twin-blade humbucker, and later the L-500 series. The L-500 recently became the very first aftermarket pickup design to be reverse-engineered by a major aftermarket maker. Bill's Nashville designs also included his famous solderless high-performance guitar plugs and cable (also reverse-engineered by others in recent years), and Long-Life strings made with a process that remains unsurpassed in the industry today.



    The '90s found Bill, now teamed with wife (and skilled pickup maker) Becky, still innovating -- his L-280 noisefree" series for Strats and Teles helped bring these American classics into the twenty-first century, and Fender had engaged him as a consultant. This long-running relationship, which included designing the pickups for Fender's highly successful Roscoe Beck signature basses, has most recently resulted in the SCN (samarium cobalt noiseless) pickup family found in the prestigious and popular American Deluxe series of Fender guitars and basses.

    Today, Bill and Becky continue to offer players consistent quality and innovation under Bill Lawrence Pickups, including WildeUSA� and Keystone� . One of Bill's guiding principles is to constantly improve the performance and value of the products he designs and endorses -- that means that Bill's WildeUSA and Keystone pickups available today represent the very best work of one of the industry's legendary pioneers.

    Bruce Morgen is a veteran technical writer and musician who's known Bill Lawrence since the early '70s, when both men worked with singer-guitarist Bobby Hebb in New York -- Bruce as a sideman with Bobby, and Bill making sure Bobby's guitars played and sounded perfect.
     
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  13. soulman969

    soulman969 Most Honored Senior Member

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    Something that I might add regarding evaluating pickups from published specs is this.

    While resistance measured in ohms will give you a good indication of that pickups output it won't tell you as much about it's voicing or tonality. For that you'll want to know the pickups inductance which is measured in henries.

    In general the higher the resistance the greater the output. A pickup measuring 8.5K ohms resistance would typically have greater output than one measuring 6K. Keep in mind I'm saying "in general" and "typically" but since you're only dealing with single coil Strat pickups not other designs ohms would be pretty dependable for output.

    For basic voicing or tonality the reverse is generally true. The lower the inductance the more highs the pickup will be able to produce. So a pickup measuring 2.0H is capable of producing more high end than one measuring 5.0H. So this spec is fairly dependable as far as telling you what the tonal profile of any pickup might be.

    Bill Lawrence's writings will allow you to dive even deeper into magnetics, guitar wiring circuits, and pickup design if you want to take time to explore this subject even more. But for those who simply want some method to help inform them of how much output to expect from a given pickup and it's native voicing these specs will help provided you're comparing two pickups of the same or a similar design.