In early 1965 Leo Fender sold his company to CBS ... and we all know both the legend of pre CBS quality, and post CBS cost cutting.
Well here is a prime example of a pre CBS Fender pickup. A 1964 Jaguar bridge unit. Sadly this one has died and has come to us for a rewind ... but we get useful insights from it's construction ... and it will live again!
Here you can see clearly the unusual magnet stagger, and the famous 'claw' designed to both shield, and boost the pickup's inductance.
Removing the cover from a 51 year old pickup is a delicate business ... you are never quite sure what you will find. The poles were heavily corroded from the sweat of hundreds of gigs ... and that doesn't usually bode well.
The claw is a push fit ... which is one of the reasons Jags tend to squeal at high volumes ... so when this beauty is re built, the claw will be potted onto the bottom flat-work to cope with modern stage volumes.
Claw gently removed ... and there is the proof of this pickups pedigree ... a child of the spring of 64
Cover off and the dog can see the rabbit. Yuck! Smells like moldy Camembert and though difficult to see in the pic, has bits of the PVA winding wire insulation flaking off in several areas. Fairly easy to see what killed this old timer!
With the bobbin cleaned up and de-greased using the gentle heat of a shrink tube gun it was lacquered ... to prevent the inner windings shorting against the magnets if the insulation fails at the core at any stage ... and to keep any corrosion in check. This is an operation Fender often missed out, and has killed many an old pickup.
The wound bobbin mounted in 'Tweedledee' one of our two manual or CNC winding machines. These make the whole process much easier ... as even on manual scatter winding they are much smoother than 'Gloria' my old self built machine. They will also crank well over 1000 rpm if needed! But not for a vintage wind! Note the fibre gasket to make the bottom of the pickup sit level. Jag pickup magnets project about 1mm from the back of the flatwork.
The wire used is period correct 42awg 'plain enamel' wire with it's characteristic brown PVA coating. It is not the easiest stuff in the world to work with! Because of it's colour it is damn near invisible on anything but a white background, and so threading the eyelets and sorting the wire feed is a total git. It's also quite pricey! As a matter of interest, not all 'brown wire' known as 'plain enamel' is in fact 'PVA' ... all single coated wire nowadays is generally referred to as plain enamel, and it is available in brown to order! That is in fact brown coloured 'poly' coated wire. We use proper PVA from the US ... There is nothing at all wrong with 'poly'or 'polysol' as some call it ... but in 1964 Fender didn't use it. And we are being sticklers here.
All wound ... and looking neat and tidy. PVA coated wire is not easy to solder ... it needs a hot iron and a calm temperament.
The coil start hookup wire was absolutely knackered, so we replaced that with a length of new, period correct black pushback wire ... then used some of our super-secret 'gumph' to rub on and simulate 50 years of gigging.
nice and filthy.
The coil finish hookup is a nice red, that I don't have in stock ... but luckily was in good nick, so after a bit of TLC it was re soldered to its eyelet. The pickup is a tad hotter than stock ... the original neck unit being 6.2k ... I wound to 6.4k ... to balance the newly wound bridge a bit better.
This is where I depart from Fender's way of doing things. In 1964 the pickup would have been lacquer dipped, left to dry, then have its cover and claw loose fitted ... the mounting screws and foam cushion keeping the whole lot together when the guitar was assembled. This often leads to awful microphonics and squeal from the claw ... and indeed somebody had done a bit of a ham-fisted job of trying to pot the pickup in wax in later life.
The way I do it is to pot the claw onto the pickup base firmly, before cleaning up, and fitting the cover last. This requires a small jig to keep the claw lined up in the bath.
And there she is ... potted, cover fitted snugly, and ready to do another 51 years of gigs! I love working on classic kit ... it puts me close to those fabulous rock and roll years, when everything was new and exciting ...