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Kōkako Strat Pickup

Single NZ$129 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas it’s GST free; NZ$112.17

Set NZ$339 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas they’re GST free; NZ$294.78

AlnicoV – Neck 6.15 KOhms, 2.79H, Middle 6.15 KOhms, 2.79H, Bridge 6.64 KOhms, 3.08H

The Kokako Strat Pickup is is strongly influenced by the Fender Stratocaster pickups of the 60’s but with a little more. It has a full yet clear bottom end , smooth highs and clear mids. It’s aimed at players who love the sounds of Frusciante and Hendrix.

The Kōkako set was spawned by a few things coming together in November ’22.

For a while I’ve been offering my Bellbird Strat set with various winding options – 5% under, 5% over or 10% overwound. I’ve been playing with a 10% over wound set in one of my own Strats and for me they have ‘that’ vintage Strat tone that’s perfect with a little dirt be it fuzz or overdrive.

I was sent a Strat pickup to re-wind and the customer told me his ideal sound was Hendrix.

I’d just read an article saying how Seymour Duncan had wound some pickups for Hendrix and the spec of those pickups looked very similar to the 10% overwound Bellbirds.

That got me thinking.

The same day a customer contacted me wanting advice about my pickups and which one would be best for a John Frusciante sound.

Well, it’s the Bellbird +10%.

Kokako Strat Pickup

I thought this was too good to let go.

I could have left the pickup as a version of the Bellbird but decided it needed its own life.

My Strat pickups are named after native New Zealand birds like the Bellbird and the Tui; I chose the Kokako because its song reflects the tonal characteristics of the pickups. I wanted a bird that has a song fatter and fuller sounding than the Bellbird but not as aggressive as the Tui – so Kōkako Strat Pickup it is.

Here’s the original Bellbird pickup

And YouTube demos of all my Strat pickups

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updated 3 April 2023

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Andy Marra ‘Bellbird’ Strat Pickup Demo

Thanks to Andy Marra for this “Bellbird” Strat Pickup Demo

The Stratocaster has been around since 1954 and the legend continues. Reading the internet (!?) tells me there have been good and bad years or decades, guitars to avoid and ones worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’ve been repairing guitars since 1995 so I’ve played a lot of old Strats and analysed a lot of old pickups. Vintage pickups aren’t all great but the good ones are fantastic.

I’ve based my Vintage Strat set on the best of the old pickups I’ve had the pleasure of playing through . So I use AWG42 heavy formvar insulated wire – there’s something about the thickness of that insulation that just works with an old Strat pickup.

I’ve aimed for that old quacking chime that makes Strats wonderfully percussive but with a singing quality that’s so musical. Warm and clear with beautiful almost reverb-like clean tones – that’s what I want out of an old Strat. The neck needs to be fat, round and clear, the middle pickup needs to quack and the bridge a cut through twang without thinness. The all important ‘in between’ sounds in positions 2 and 4 must be balanced and characterful. Nothing says Strat more than these sounds.

The Bellbird set has been designed mainly for clean tones but they’re certainly not afraid to perform with a bit of gain. As part of a HSS set they’re great with one of my ‘Integrity’ humbuckers in the bridge position.

I agonised for months over names for my Strat pickup sets then during a camping trip to Tauwharanui Regional Park I heard my first Bellbird and realised that was the sound I had been looking for when I was designing this set. The comparison in tone between the Bellbird and the more common Tui seemed exactly what I had in my head when designing my Strat pickups. Bellbirds don’t just go tweet, there’s a depth and warmth in the tone. It’s so hard to describe sound and the difference between pickups but I think the difference between the Bellbird and the Tui sum up the difference between my vintage and hot Strat pickups. So I called them the Bellbird and the Tui.

Thanks to Andy Marra for this “Bellbird” Strat Pickup Demo