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Fender Lead I Pickup

I’ve been repairing a few pickups recently and I thought I’d share this one with you. It’s a Fender Lead I Pickup that was sent to me by guitar repairer Jeff Baker from Oamaru.

The Fender Lead I was one of those obscure models that never really caught on and the pickup reflects that. It’s a little unusual and that’s what makes it interesting.

It even looks different with those square topped bobbins.

Fender Lead I Pickup

Not only is it unusual looking from the top but turn it over and it shows what it’s really all about. Those are 12 big adjustable poles screwed into substantial steel blocks and coupled to a powerful ceramic magnet.

This is clearly not a typical Fender pickup, this was designed to ROCK.

So what were Fender thinking? Well, this was 1979, the DiMarzio Super Distortion had been around for 5 years and was becoming very successful. Fender had nothing to compete with it. Looking at the spec of the Lead I pickup it is remarkably similar to the Super Distortion. Fender were making a Superstrat and it wasn’t even the 80’s yet.

 Lead I Pickup underneath

Back to the repair – it came to me because it wasn’t working and typical for faulty humbuckers one coil was showing ‘open circuit’ on the test meter. In these cases I can use the good coil as a reference to what the faulty coil should be. It had a dc resistance of 7.61 KOhms. Wiki told me the final dc resistance of the whole pickup is approx. 13KOhms so that gave me a pretty good indication of how I should wind it. That’s a powerful set of coils to go with that magnet.

A bit of maths, plenty of experience and some intuition and I had a plan for winding it. Detailed information just isn’t available for this kind of job.

humbucker bobbin

I stripped the bobbin and wound the coil.

pole pieces

I potted it very lightly because these bobbins are made of butyrate that has a lower melting point than most modern ABS bobbins – I didn’t want it to deform with the heat, I wasn’t going to be able to get another bobbin.

Here you can see the chunky pole pieces, they’ll guide a fair bit of that ceramic magnet’s strength up to the strings.

Fender Lead I Pickup

If you have a faulty pickup or are interested in my range of handmade pickups have a look at the website.

Here’s some more great info on the Fender Lead series: https://chrisandricktalkguitars.com/fenders-lead-series-cbs-era-gems/

https://mrglynspickups.com/

https://www.youtube.com/c/MrGlynsPickups/videos

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“Bellbird”- vintage Strat set

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 5.68 KOhms, 2.36H, Middle 5.68 KOhms, 2.36H, Bridge 6.05 KOhms, 2.71H

vintage Strat Pickups

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The Bellbird is a vintage voiced pickup set strongly influenced by the pre CBS Fenders of the early 60’s. Clear and chiming, low powered and pure. Suitable for a huge range of styles, ideal for that traditional tone.

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.

Here are some sound samples recorded clean through a Fender Princeton Reverb-Amp. The overdrive sounds are using an Electroharmonix Soul Food. The guitar is an Alder body Strat with rosewood fretboard strung with D’Addario 10-52’s. All of them with the same guitar, same amp, same settings, no reverb or eq added later.

Bellbird Neck Pickup Clean
Bellbird Neck and Middle Pickups Clean
Bellbird Middle Pickup Clean
Bellbird Middle and Bridge Pickups Clean
Bellbird Bridge Pickup Clean

Bellbird Neck Pickup with Overdrive
Bellbird Neck and Middle with Overdrive
Bellbird Middle with Overdrive
Bellbird Middle an Bride Pickups with Overdrive
Bellbird Bridge Pickup with Overdrive
Bellbird vintage strat set - Mr Glyns Pickups
Strat Cover Options Mr Glyns Pickups
Strat Cover Options

https://www.youtube.com/c/MrGlynsPickups/videos

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