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Fender Custom '65 Single-Coil Strat Pickups for Stratocasters

Read full story down below pics...

Here are two sound clip comparisons of a set of Fender Custom Shop '60s pickups taken from a $3k '60s Relic Strat and a similarly valued Fender  '65 Custom Shop Strat. The clip demo's all 3 pickups but listen to as little or much as you like. The first 10-20 seconds will give you an idea of the difference between the punchy sounding '60s and the "piano like" tone of the custom '65 pickups which is what I believe to be Jimi Hendrix's true signature sound of the early days of his career. For a full description of what makes these pickups so different, read my read research report down below pics ...

A good friend of mine, Aaron, at Rumpelstiltskin Pickups custom winds Fender type pickups to spec from any era and can customize to suit. Check out his site and sound clips. He just made me a killer set of hybrid pickups that is a combination of early Are You Experienced sounds in middle and bridge position and a Band of Gypsys type neck pickup. The chime and quack are just out of this world and the neck does a spot of Gypsys at the Fillmore East.
Fender Custom '60s Single-Coil Pickup Demo Fender Custom '65 Single Coil Pickup Demo

FMP256 Flash Music Playhead

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FMP256 Flash Music Playhead

To listen you must install Flash Player. Visit Draftlight Networks for more info.

Bridge Pickup reads 4.43K Ohms! Unusally low output but super crips bell clarity and nice warmth!

Middle Pickup Reads 6.07K

Neck Pickup Reads 6.23K Most beautiful Strat tone!

Plain Reddish enamel wire with grey fiber "greybottom" bobbin and black fiber top bobbin

.1uf Chicklet Style Capacitor

Note less copper wire turns around bridge pickup to make it lower 4.43K

NOte diorrecne in copper colored wire on CS '60s left and CS '65 pickups right

Blac bottom bobin CS '60s left Greybottom bobbins Custom '65 pickup on right

Fender Custom '65 Single Coil Pickup Info

After having played and bought just about ever Fender Custom shop pickup from the '50s, '60s and '70s, I recently played a Fender Custom Shop '65 Relic Strat and was absolutely astounded at how "piano like" it sounded compared to all the others and instantly sent shivers up my spine as being the missing link to Jimi's early Are You Experienced? and Monterey Pop Festival '67 Summer of Love sound. The tone of these pickups made my custom shop '60s relic Strat, custom shop ''69 and custom shop '50s relic pickups all sound dull and lifeless in comparison. So for weeks, I did a ton of research online and through various books about Hendrix and found several important things you may find of interest in just what makes these pickups sound so special and what I believe to be a critical element in recreating Jimi's early days sound.

Due to some savvy marketers at Fender Guitars, and sporadic videos and pics, there is some vaguely accurate information available about Jimi's '68 White Woodstock Stratocaster and his "Black Beauty" maple neck Strat also said to be a '68, but nothing with absolutely verifiable accuracy. Those guitars had a different sound altogether from his earlier rosewood neck period. To add to the mystique, of the hundreds of guitars Jimi bought, it's said that only 7 are known to exist today and nobody who owns one will verify precisely what's under the hood. So basically, Fender's answer to this was to create several variations of Jimi's guitars, naming then everything from the Voodoo Strat to the Woodstock Strat to the custom shop '69 Strat to Japanese made lefty '66 Strat to their Custom Shop '69 pickups saying it gives the sound of the 'Summer of Love" I guess meaning Woodstock? Duh. Monterey was in '67 and was dubbed the "Summer of Love", not Woodstock! If anything, Woodstock was the death of Flower Power-Free Love period. In addition, if they were supposed to model Jimi's Woodstock tone, why wouldn't they be called custom '68s since the white Strat he played the Star Spangle Banner on was a '68 model, not a '69 and if the custom '69s were modeled after Monterey, why wouldn't they have named them custom '67s or to be more accurate to what Jimi used at Monterey, Custom '65s? This confusion set me out on a quest to find out the truth about what's real and what's really just marketing hype. Incidentally, none of the Hendrix Stratocasters were exactly like the kind Jimi played, either because of differences in pickups, neck types, logo types, body woods, or other parts. It's almost as if Fender purposely made them to be mutations to keep us all craving the real deal. Back to my research findings...

First, I discovered through some seriously deep digging over a long period or time, that Jimi used a '65 Strat to record "Hey Joe", "Purple Haze" and "Electric Ladyland" (see below provenance) and that both the Black and Fiesta Red Strats he played at Monterey were 1965 Stratocasters. It's astonishing to me with Jimi Hendrix, being the quintessential rock guitarist of all time, that there's so little information available about the gear he used to stun the world with at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 (which is considered by many historians to be the most important show in rock history). Or that the gear he used during his most fertile recording to record his debut album "Are You Experienced?" & "Electric Ladyland" to get those beautiful sounds that nobody has been able to be replicate with exactness to this day. Can't you just hear the tone of that Fiestas Red Strat wailing and groaning on the intro to "Wild Thing" and wonder what kind of equipment he was using? Sure, some will say, tone is in the mind and the fingers of the player who played it. Or that, "He's just Jimi stupid"!  Or the other theory, that his brilliant recording engineer Eddie Kramer worked some studio magic which I'm sure he did. All that stuff is true to some degree AND to me, those are all blanket statements people use that I just don't buy as the consummate answer to my burning question which is and always will be "how did Jimi get those types of sounds?" These kind of generalized answers I usually get are usually from those whose egos many times play a part in the answer which only further distorts the truth. It's like saying... here we have that the world's most delicious tasting cake, made by the world's greatest baker. Now since he IS the world's greatest baker, gosh he could have used stale flour and rotten eggs and would still able to get that same delicious tasting cake because after all, he's the world's greatest baker right? Nah uh... To make that cake you better know the exact ingredients, their quality, age, syntax (or order) of how the ingredients are placed into the mixing bowl before placing it in the oven and at what temperature? Can this cake be replicated? Absolutely! Can Jimi's tone be replicated? I say absolutely! Provided, of course, that you have all the ingredients! I found a couple of them I believe. Now, I'm not talking about is playing techniques. That's another story altogether, but for example when he hits a basic chord such as he did while playing "Like A Rolling Stone" that sound can be replicated in my opinion. So if your desire is to model Jimi's tone and then build on your own style from there, I see nothing wrong with that and Jimi, more than anyone borrowed quite a few styles and licks from his favorite players.

Back to the Custom '65 pickups and how I believe they are one of the crucial ingredients to nailing Jimi's '65 Monterey piano like tone Jimi had and "why" do they sound markedly different than any other Strat that nobody online at least to my knowledge seems to have put 2+2 together yet. Anyway I landed a set of those pickups taken from a '65 relic Strat (never mind the cost) and posted some basic clips below. Don't mind the playing. I was trying to emphasize the differences in tone between a set of custom shop '60s pickups and the custom '65s. The CS '60s were out of a ''60s relic noneck Strat from The Zoo. After the clips were made, I carefully removed them and installed the custom '65 pickups into that same guitar so there would be no variances of wood types etc.. I used identical volume, tone, amp settings on a Dr Z Route 66 amp based on Jimi's first JTM 45 with the warm sounding big bottle KT66 power tubes.

 
Here's the kicker though, because I kept wondering "why do they sound so much different and better to my ears at least as far as coming close to getting Hendrix's early tone is concerned?" Drum roll....I found that the difference between the custom '60s and the later '69 pickups is that in the '50s and early '60s they used plain copper type wire with a black fiber bobbin on top and bottom. Then beginning in '65 to early '70s, they used a grey fiber bobbin on the bottom known as "greybottoms" and in the latter part of the '60s, they used a darker purple/black formvar wire. So according to lore, it's that type of wired and the greybottom bobbin is what made it have a thumping bottom end with smooth transparent highs but flat mids.
 
However, what makes the 1965 single coil pickup different from both the early '60s black bobbin/plain enamel wire type and the 1969 Woodstock dark formvar wire/greybottom type pickup is that the '65 utilizes plain copper wire the early '60s pickup but it is slightly larger diameter, with several hundred less turns of wire. Plus, it also uses the greybottom bobbin like the late '60s pickups used at Woodstock, however, it is a lighter grey material which makes it slightly different in how it causes the pickup to sound. So it has a completely unique sound that is much brighter, or "piano like" and more open than a early '60s pickup because of the larger wire and less turns, yet it still has some of that thumping low end like the Woodstock sound due to the greybottom bobbins. Think about how bright "Purple Haze and  rich "Hey Joe" sounded in comparison with Jimi's later, warmer Woodstock sound. This combination, unique only to years 1965 & 1966, makes it a completely different animal than all other Fender pickups. The '69s are said to have transparent highs, lat mids and thumping lows, which they do. However, they don't sound near as juicy as the '65s because they used that black formvar wire that was thinner with more winds making them not as hot, or open sounding as the larger wire and the greybottom in the '65 pups. In fact, they seriously lack the rich mids. In summary, the '65 pickup combines the best of the early '60s sounds but beefed up some with the later '60s greybottom thump. In fact, Robin Trower just said in this month's Guitar Player interview that the 3 best sounding Strats he ever played or owned was a '57 and 2 x 1966 Strats. After researching the '66 Strats, I found that they used the same gauge red copper wire and the same lighter greybottom bobbin of the '65s with almost the same number of wire turns. See below chart...
 
Strat Pickup Specs made by Seymour Duncan
http://www.provide.net/~cfh/pickups.html
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
 
Here are those are pickups I just nabbed:
 
Here's a Pickup assembly in an original 1965 Stratocaster
 
 
Here's Jimi's 1965 Strat used by Jimi to record Hey Joe, Purple Haze & Electric Lady (Stevie Ray's Lenny Strat was a '65)

 

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1965 Fender Strat owned & played by Jimi Hendrix

1965 Fender Strat owned & played by Jimi Hendrix! Incredible find & 100% genuine, this guitar was purchased by Jimi in 1966 & was played extensively by him!

This is the real deal, it is not one of those guitars that Jimi picked up in the studio & strummed a few chords on! This guitar was bought by Jimi in 1966 in Manny's NYC, he picked it out himself. He played it extensively from that moment on, it is featured on some milestone rock recordings. Electric Ladyland, Hey Joe & Foxy Lady, all of this info is fully documented & is irrefutable. The guitar was also used in London, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Monterey & Winterland.

In 1968 Jimi had started smashing the guitar into his mike stand, and the combination of this & his heavy use of the trem resulted in the trem arm breaking off leaving the threads still in the guitar where it remains to this day! The remainder of the broken trem arm is still in the case, where it has been since 1968!

The areas of missing lacquer visible in the images are still visible on the guitar on close inspection, these areas have been roughly blacked over by Jimi or his roadie at some point in the guitars history, these details are very clear & match entirely on close inspection

Maverick-Music Price: $750,000.00

 .....

Now to fully nail Jimi's Monterey and earlier tones, grab yourself one of the new Marshall JH100 Marshall Stacks based on Jimi's Monterey amp, a Fender Custom Shop '65 Strat, a germanium fuzz face pedal and you'll be rockin' like Jimi in no time!

 

 

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