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Ok, Let's Talk Jaguar Pickups: Boutique Or Mass Made?


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So I'm looking into Jaguar pickups. I've played the stock American Vintage Reissue Jaguars and they do have that classic surf clean tone. But what I'm after is something more...um.....Smash Mouth sounding? You know, something that supports a little more dirty tones, overdriven if you will.

I'm having a Masterbuilder friend make me a Fender Custom Shop Jaguar this year. He says if I want it to sound like a Fender then go with Fender pickups. They are using the AV factory Jaguar pickups. Abigail does not custom wind Jaguar pickups, only Tele's and Strats.

Another friend of mine had this very Masterbuilder build him a Jaguar and insisted on using Curtis Novak Jaguar pickups. Dennis was not impressed.

There's a local surf band named "

with Fender final assembly employee Dave Wronski playing a smokin' Jaguar. But ex-Fender Masterbuilder Fred Stuart wound those Jaguar pickups for him. Fred does not make or wind Jaguar pickups anymore. He's doing his own thing.

Bottom line; I want the Jaguar to still sound like a classic Jaguar when clean but I want something that beefs up nicely when overdriven. I don't want it to sound like a dirty rubber band through a cigar box tone when cranked.

Seymour Duncan offers different Jaguar pickups but I'm afraid those might alter the classic tone too much. It's too bad there's not something out there like a Jag Vintage (neck), and Jag Vintage Plus (bridge). The Jag Hot and Quarter Pounder seems too much.

I guess I could contact some of the boutique pickup builders that offer rewind services (ie, Fralin, Lollar). Maybe now would be the time to pickups some stock Jaguar pickups and then send to those guys for a rewind to whatever spec I'd like.

Any thoughts?

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You have to realize that what you are asking for is a bit contradictional. You want full beef overdriven sound and the classic Jaguar clean. But those classical Jaguars (in your opinion) don’t deliver the overdriven punch you need. Well, that’s a problem. The Jags pickup sound the way they do due to how they are made. Change them to sound better for overdrive and they will sound different (maybe worse, maybe not) when clean. That’s as simple as it is.

I see only two possibilities:

1 use an active booster/EQ for your overdriven sounds, or

2 have someone make a tapped coil pickup.

The first solution can be onboard or as a pedal. The second means that you have someone make you a standard pickup, standard specification, with the standard two lead wires. Then the winder puts on like 2000 more turns of wire (probably have to go for AWG43 or 44 wire to make them fit) and a third lead. Then you can have the full blown sound using both of the coils (it is actually two coils on one bobbin) or the cleaner sound of the vintage specification. ‘I have done similar pickups, but not for jaguars.

But trying to get two different sounds from one traditional pickups only mean that you will end up somewhere in between your two ideal sound. It means that you will have to compromise.

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Thanks for your input guys.

Swedishluthier: I guess I'm looking for something that sounds a little better when overdriven. I sense that you're thinking I'm looking for a PAF tone out of a Jaguar pickup. Not really. I'm looking for something that may sound more like a '52 Tele bridge pickup which also sounds bright when clean yet scream a bit when overdriven.

I like your active boost idea. I may replace the 3rd hole (normally the output jack) with that boost control and have the output jack located on the side of the guitar (Tele output location). I want to get my electronics nailed down before the build so that I don't need to go back later and modify (replacing pickups, adding switches).

Or for simplicity I might go for a push pull control for the volume pot and have the third pot as my gain control?

All this means a 9 volt rattling around somewhere in the guitar though, right?

- Stew

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I was not really thinking you were looking for a full blown HB sound. It’s just that as soon as you start playing around with the different things that form the sound of a pickup, leaving the formula A1 so to speak, you are getting a different clean sound too. That’s the hard basic facts. The tapped pickup version means that you can have a standard Jag pickup at ~ 8500 turns of AWG 42 wire and add something like 1000-1500 turns of wire to get it close to a over wound tele pickup. Maybe using AWG 43 to 1. make it easier to fit and 2. higher the DC resistance a bit more to take off a bit of the treble. This means that with the throw of a switch you will add output and “round off” the tone a bit.

At the same time you got to remember that a Jag sounds the way it does in large parts due to the U-shaped magnetic metal thingy that surround the coil. It directs the field against the strings and boost the impedance at the same time. All this play a big role in the Jag’s sound.

The on board preamp/bost/EQ is way more flexible. And if you have the axe built for you, you can have them install one of those so you have easy access to the battery from the back of the guitar: http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Electronics,_p...tery_Boxes.html

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Yeah, I think the db boost thing is the way to go. That way I won't have to sacrifice that classic Jag tone. It's just that a Tele middle pickup position sounds so close to a Jag that I was hoping of creating some sort of hybrid Jag pickup; one that can get both worlds in one.

But it sounds like apples vs oranges here and there's no cross pollination. :D

I appreciate your advice.

- Stew

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