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
Custom '60s Single-Coil Pickup Demo
Custom '65 Single Coil Pickup Demo
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
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
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...
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
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.
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.
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...
The Ultimate Marshall
1959 Super Lead Plexi, JMP, Clones, JCM 800, JCM 900 Tone Improvement Upgrade!
Fender Strat owned & played by Jimi Hendrix
Fender Strat owned & played by Jimi Hendrix! Incredible find & 100%
genuine, this guitar was purchased by Jimi in 1966 & was played
extensively by him!
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.
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!
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