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Post new topic Pickup for a Fender cable sound on a modern guitar?
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Author Topic:  Pickup for a Fender cable sound on a modern guitar?
Ryan Quinn


From:
Northampton, MA
Post  Posted 7 Dec 2011 3:07 pm    
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I have two PSG's- a Fender 400, and a Fessenden SD-10. I play the Fender 400 out, but would like to be able to leave the Fessenden set up at my band's rehearsal space for when I don't have time between work and band practice to get my Fender from my house.

I want to find a pickup for the Fessenden that matches the Fender sound a little better. I realize there are numerous mechanical differences- scale, all-pull vs. cable, stamped pedals vs. machined, etc. -so I really just want to get at what I can change electronically. I know that the Fessy won't sound exactly like a late-'50's Fender.

As I understand it, the main difference between the Fender's Jazzmaster style pickup and my Fessenden's Tonaligner are that the Fender has a much lower impedance (near 8k ohm vs. nearly 20k ohm), and is single coil. Are there any 10-string pickups in production that match the Fender specs better, or is there a particular pickup I should look for in the for sale section? There are single coil pickups of course, but they all seem wound to modern, high-output PSG specs.
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Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in the San Francisco Bay Area
Post  Posted 7 Dec 2011 3:33 pm    
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I shall be interested to see people's responses to this. I've often thought of putting and old Fender pickup on other pedal steels.
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autry andress

 

From:
Plano, Tx.
Post  Posted 7 Dec 2011 4:11 pm     Fender Sound
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Hopefully Bob Carlucci will chime in on this I think he put a coil tap Truetone @ 9 K & 12 K in his S 10 Carter W 5+5. I think it got him in the Fender territory to his liking.
Bob Where are you?????
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Clyde Mattocks

 

From:
Kinston, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 7 Dec 2011 5:13 pm    
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My opinion. Don't expect anything else to sound like that Fender. It is not simply the pickup, but the materials and constuction that give the Fenders their unique sound.
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Todd Brown


From:
W. Columbia , South Carolina
Post  Posted 7 Dec 2011 5:56 pm    
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I agree with Clyde. But you can get close! Ralph Mooney had the pickups in his ShoBud's wound to around 9k ohms to try match the Fender tone he was used too. I've got a ShoBud single coil with Jerry Wallace, getting rewound right now. I've got him winding it to 17.5k ohms, with a tap at 9k ohms. Hopefully I'll be able to get a pretty decent Fender/Mooney type tone with the tap at 9k.

So Ryan, to answer your question, your best bet is to probably try out a Wallace TrueTone. Have Jerry wind it to something anywhere from 17k-19.5k or so, this will give you a thicker, more modern tone. Have him put a coil tap on it at 8k-9k ohms, there's your thinner, older sound. You would have to put the tap switch somewhere though. Several options, I would put it on the endplate, near the input jack. Going that route, a single coil with a modern winding, with a tap for that older sound is what I would do. That's what I'm doing with my ShoBud!
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Ryan Quinn


From:
Northampton, MA
Post  Posted 7 Dec 2011 6:22 pm    
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Thanks for the responses. I agree that there's no way a modern PSG going to sound exactly like an old cable Fender, but just being able to plug both into the same amp with similar volume/tone settings would be a good start.

The info on Ralph Mooney is great- he is definitely my main tone/style reference. I was actually thinking about phrasing my original question as "how did Mooney sound more or less the same when he switched from Fender to Sho-Bud," but of course there's as much to that in his hands and feet as in the electronic components.
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Marc Jenkins


From:
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Post  Posted 7 Dec 2011 7:24 pm    
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Try Jason Lollar?
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Todd Brown


From:
W. Columbia , South Carolina
Post  Posted 7 Dec 2011 7:39 pm    
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I'm really into everything Mooney did also, and of course technique, hands, and feet are the key. I'd been looking for a while for info on what Mooney wound his ShoBud pickups to. Shortly after Ralph's passing, Bobbe was talking in his newsletter about how he'd set up one of Mooney's new Super Pro's that ShoBud had given him. He talked about switching the necks, pedals, and undercarriage around to Ralph's set up. It was in that newsletter, Bobbe, an arguably reliable source,Ha!, stated what Moon wanted his pickups wound to. Bobbe said he wound them to 9k ohms special for Moon. Several interviews, and even an article in the old Steel Guitarist Magazine show Ralph's reluctance to divulge that information. I'm pretty sure it was known that his pickups were wound pretty low, in that Fender range, but the number had never been mentioned before Bobbe let the cat out of the bag. That's what I know! Very Happy
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Clyde Mattocks

 

From:
Kinston, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 7 Dec 2011 7:53 pm    
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Not to argue, and it's my opinion only and I am a huge Moon fan. I thought his tone on the Fender was very different than his Sho Bud tone. To be sure, it had that bite, but some of the old magic was missing with the Bud. The two I thought were similar were his earlier Magnatone and the Fender. I too, try to simulate his tone with modern steels by cutting the impedence going to the amp. I play a D-10 and I put the selector switch in the middle when trying to do Mooney stuff. I believe Moon actually did this, switching back and forth between verse and chorus on his Texas Waltz. There is a discernable difference in the tone on his Fender in the two sections of this tune. Anyway, there'll never be another Moon, but it's fun to try.
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Todd Brown


From:
W. Columbia , South Carolina
Post  Posted 7 Dec 2011 8:28 pm    
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No argument here at all, Clyde. I agree his tone was different from his Magnatone days, to when he got the Fender. Close, but different. I think I would also say the same for the transition from the Fender to the ShoBud's. It was different for sure, you could tell, but it still sounded like Ralph Mooney's tone.

Not to start a war, but I think he lost his signature tone when he went to the GFI's. The only sense I can make out of his choice in GFI was politics, friendships, and personalities at the time! Shocked Uh oh....
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Clyde Mattocks

 

From:
Kinston, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 7 Dec 2011 9:32 pm    
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I totally agree Todd on the GFI thing, but by this time, his legacy was totally secure and he could have finished out his career playing harmonica and we'd still revere him. No slam on the GFI, but it was far from his signature sound.
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Paul Arntson


From:
Washington, USA
Post  Posted 8 Dec 2011 8:06 am    
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I agree with what Todd said.

For what it's worth, I got my 70's Excel much closer to Fender sound by making some pickups that had 10,000 turns of #41 wire(just what I could find cheap) on them. My original Excel pickups were somewhere around 20,000 turns. Very twangy now. The Fender has an upper midrange hump in the EQ I couldn't match, but the light winding will buy you a ton more treble. The slightly thicker wire also adds a tiny bit of presence, I think. It sure is easier to wind.

The 1976 Excel had a unique pickup mounting so I had to make them from scratch to avoid modifying the existing ones.

The photo shows only the C6. I have since finished the E9 also.





The double coil was just in case I wanted to hook them in reverse polarity like a supro for humbucking, but once I got it working, I might just as well put them all on one coil. They are wired in series.

PS - added 1/16/2014
I reversed polarity on each treble half to get humbucking but still single coil tone. Splitting them like that turned out to be a real good thing. Now if I only had chops....


Last edited by Paul Arntson on 16 Jan 2014 6:40 pm; edited 1 time in total
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autry andress

 

From:
Plano, Tx.
Post  Posted 8 Dec 2011 8:46 am     Fender Twang
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I have a Fessy W BL 710's & I dialed in the Fender Tone, or the sound Mooney was getting when he played on "Wishful Thinking". I was using a Webb Amp on #1 also using a Echo Park Delay on the Echo setting.
It took a while to dial it in.
The sound was real good even with me playing.
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Tim Whitlock


From:
Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2011 9:39 am    
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The other piece of the puzzle is Mooney's amp and settings. I have a Fender 1000 and I get closest to the sound I hear on the Wynn Stewart recordings by setting my Twin with treble on 4.5, middle on 0 and bass on 0. I would love to know what amp and settings he used.
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John Billings


From:
Ohio, USA
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2011 1:58 pm    
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http://www.lollarguitars.com/mm5/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=LGP&Product_Code=214&Category_Code=steel-guitar-pickups
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Robert Parent

 

From:
Gillette, WY
Post  Posted 9 Dec 2011 2:11 pm    
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Have you tried using a programmable processor? I have a Roland GP100 from a few years back and I am fairly convinced one can get most any tone desired out of it. There are many processors out there which have simulations of various amps, speakers, etc. This would give many more options than a single pickup change would offer.
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Dan Tyack

 

From:
Olympia, WA USA
Post  Posted 12 Dec 2011 6:54 pm    
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Robert Parent wrote:
Have you tried using a programmable processor? I have a Roland GP100 from a few years back and I am fairly convinced one can get most any tone desired out of it. There are many processors out there which have simulations of various amps, speakers, etc. This would give many more options than a single pickup change would offer.


I think I've tried just about every processor out there. They can be useful, but they don't change the basic tonal characteristic of the instrument. If your instrument has a range of sounds available, then your need for digital processing or other equalization goes away (IMHO).
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Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in the San Francisco Bay Area
Post  Posted 13 Dec 2011 9:09 am    
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Dan Tyack wrote:
...I think I've tried just about every processor out there. They can be useful, but they don't change the basic tonal characteristic of the instrument. If your instrument has a range of sounds available, then your need for digital processing or other equalization goes away (IMHO).

Like you, I've tried them all, but I've yet to come up with a processor which makes my tone sound like Buddy Emmons... Rolling Eyes Whoa!
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Rick Collins

 

From:
Claremont , CA USA
Post  Posted 13 Dec 2011 1:38 pm    
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Quote:
Like you, I've tried them all, but I've yet to come up with a processor which makes my tone sound like Buddy Emmons...

Alan, try playing Buddy's "Black Album" CD through your amp.
You won't even need a processor. Idea Winking
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Alan Brookes


From:
Brummy living in the San Francisco Bay Area
Post  Posted 13 Dec 2011 3:45 pm    
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I've thought of incorporating a CD drive into my pedal steel. That way I could play a CD and mime to the bar movements. Winking Winking Winking Laughing
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Bob Carlucci

 

From:
Candor, New York, USA
Post  Posted 15 Dec 2011 10:35 am    
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Several years ago at a small impromptu steel jam here in NY state, a couple of steel players that were older than me were watching me play my Carter s-10, 5+5... One turned to the other and said,

"That Carter sounds exactly like my old Fender 400"...

I was thrilled, as thats exactly what I was looking for... I was playing with the pickup at the 9 K position..

I would have Jerry Wallace wind you a coil tap pickup.. I have one of my windings at 9 K, which is unheard of today..

todays pickups could be used for line transformers..lol

The other coil was wound to 12 K , which gives me a good thick mid, clear bottom, and still plenty of highs

I get a pretty good approximation of the old Fender sound with my carter in the 9 K position, just by using a pickup thats wound like a Fender...


Think along the lines of a tap at 9 k and the other at 13-14 K,, tell Jerry you want it to sound like a Fender, and he will get you in the ballpark..


I currently have a Fender 800, and to tell you the truth, there is a pretty close match to the sound of the carter in the 9 k position... there are some variables of course, Lots more wood on the Fender, totally different pull/changer mechanism, aluminum neck on the Carter, but if you have a pickup wound to Fender specs, it will get you in the zone you want it to be in ...
I once used a Sho Bud coil tap pickup in a mica MSA. It sounded like a cross between an MSA and a Bud...
Pickups make a huge difference, despite what some will say about the tone of a guitar being inherent in its body/mechanism etc...
Think what a les paul would sound like with tele pickups.. Not exactly like a tele, but much more tele like than it did before the pickup swap... bob
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no gear list for me.. you don't have the time......
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autry andress

 

From:
Plano, Tx.
Post  Posted 15 Jan 2014 4:57 pm     Fender Sound on a Fessy
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Ryan
Can you give us a up date on your search for a fender
winding PU for your Fessy.
Thanks
Autry
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Ryan Quinn


From:
Northampton, MA
Post  Posted 16 Jan 2014 1:31 pm    
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Hi Autry, thanks for resurrecting this. I thought I'd written something about the outcome back a year or two ago when I tried it, but I now see that I didn't.

Back when the thread was active, I got a PM from Bob Hoffnar with some suggestions on setting up the Tonealigner pickup. I wound up having a phone conversation with him, and if I recall correctly, his advice was to raise the back pole pieces and lower the front pole pieces. I did that, and it helped make the pickup brighter, and more like a single coil generally.

Before speaking with him, I had tried to match the frequency response of the Fender pickup with graphic EQ - both stompbox and 31 band rackmount. I could get the frequency response I wanted, but at the expense of picking up some strange phase artifacts.

I'd say the closest I could get to a Fender sound with my Fessenden and Tonealigner was to adjust the polepieces as I described above. Also, adding a buffer on the output of the guitar to properly load the Tonealigner and reduce the impact of the higher pickup impedance compared to the older single coil Fender was helpful.

Thanks,
Ryan

p.s. Can't say enough good things about the Tonealigner and Bob Hoffnar's help.
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Fessenden SD-10, Long-Scale Fender 400, Short-Scale Fender 1000
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Ken Metcalf


From:
Converse Texas USA
Post  Posted 16 Jan 2014 4:10 pm    
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Ryan Quinn wrote:


p.s. Can't say enough good things about the Tonealigner and Bob Hoffnar's help.
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chris ivey


From:
california (deceased)
Post  Posted 16 Jan 2014 7:34 pm    
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did you ever try just lowering the pickup down away from the strings?
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