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Are Fender Pickups the most versatile ever built? Possibly not. That’s why there are hundreds of independent pickup makers all over the world. Some of them claim to be able to get that vintage tone that the modern Fender cannot. That twang. That legendary sound that is missing from today’s modern guitars.
We guitarists love our sound. God knows I’m anal about it. With Dr.Zs here and there, Fender guitars, Fralins, Fulltones, I’ve spent a small fortune trying to get that sound. My guitar buddies still search for that sound and I’m sure all those on our Facebook page are too. It’s in your head but it just can’t be converted into the live arena. Something is amiss most of the time.
Well today we are going to cover some pickups that are just awesomely great with certain genres or artists. It hasn’t been done before, I don’t think, sticking a certain model pup with a certain genre. I know you can play any genre with any model pup type but I’m going to stick my neck out to try to narrow it down to which Fender Pickup models would sound best in each genre.
The Fender Custom Shop Fat ’50s Stratocaster Pickups are, well, FAT. They sound awesome in old school rock and blues that bands like Gratefully Dead, The Band and Black Crowes used to do. If you want a chimey yet moderately bassy pup to play your old school rock, look no further. Other similar pickups that is good with rock and blues are Custom Shop 54, Hot Noiseless Strat Pickups (for those who don’t want the humming) and the Tex-Mex pickups which are super high output pups.
Custom Shop 69’s are for that David Gilmour type tones. These pups are great with brighter sounding woods like alder and basswood but are low output pups. These pups have the TONE though and can easily emulate Hendrix and George Harrison. These are said to be great for Jazz type tones as well so all those Jazz guitarists, take note.
When we talk about the Fender Custom Shop Texas Special pickups it is hard to avoid the name SRV. Fender modeled the Texas Specials after his number 1 guitar and like the man, it is blues, rock and country rolled into one.
Fender Vintage ’57/’62 Strat pickups are the holy grail to some. It boasts superior tone than the CS 54s and if you play Hank Marvin type music you are in for a treat although you would be able to get really close to modern sounds from the likes of John Frusciante and the band the Urgency. It is really an all-round pup.
Fender has come a long way to perfecting their pickups and I am not sure they are there yet. All the reverse engineering to get the vintage sound from their own Fender pickups of yesteryear sounds funny at times! It is after all their design! Pickup making is an art that Fender is close to perfecting. Problem is that smaller companies like Fralin and Lollar pickups maybe ahead of them.