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View Full Version : SRV Number One Pickup Specs


rodmac
06-15-2008, 02:48 PM
Hi all,
when the FMI team met with Jimmi Vaughan in 2003 in a Dallas hotel room, to dissect SRV's Number One for the specs and info required to produce the CS limited edition, they took the details of the pup's and their DC resistances etc.
I would really like to know what they found out. Does anyone have any detailed info on the pup's and wiring harness/capacitor etc, esp the DC kOhm readings they found.
Cheers RMac

newking70
06-15-2008, 02:56 PM
an email i recieved from dave stephens/ sd pickups:

I should write an article and just send it out everytime I get this
inquiry :-) I don't know everything, mind you, but I did do alot of
research on him and that guitar in particular.
A big thing about that guitar, even when it had more finish on it, is
that it never really had much finish on it, just a thin nitro finish
mostly beat off from use. I did a fun thing with a cheap Squire strat
a couple years ago I got for $100, I hated that guitar it was so new
and shiny with all its plastic coating and bleached white neck. Plus
it sounded really bright and twangy in a bad way. So I took a heat
gun to it and melted the plastic off and burned it purposefully in
the process, making a fake cheap "relic" look, I really enjoyed
wrecking that guitar :-) I also did alot of sanding to get even more
finish off, I ended up about what SRV's was, very little finish left.
Well, it remarkably changed the tone of the guitar, it now has a soft
plesant tone, even with maple neck. I also took shoe polish and
"aged" the neck color.

His pickups were examined in that hotel room autopsy by Fender awhile
back, they commented that the "neck pickup was hottest, the other two
relatively weak, all bobbins were copper foil shielded." The
description matches what pickups in '59 were, most of them had the
neck the hottes pickup. Copper foil wrapping and grounding acts as a
"shorted turn" in electronics lingo, which basically clips off the
treble a bunch. These pickups are heavy formvar and can be on the
squeaky clean/bright side so this helps mellow them down some. Even
though the vintage Fender pickups are more mellow sounding than new
pickups, some of the better preserved ones can still be pretty
bright. So a basically unfinished guitar and shielded pickups really
soften the pickups in a good combination.

Like Hendrix he preferred longer cheap guitar cords that have higher
capacitance, they act as tone caps and clip the treble again. Cesar
Diaz once gave him a high efficiency expensive guitar cord and Stevie
gave it back saying "it let too much electricity through." As you
know he used real heavy strings too on a baseball sized neck, go look
on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/) for the video of the Fender autopsy of that guitar, the
neck is really thick, this tones the guitar down too. He used 12s and
sometimes 13's which is why he tore his fingers up and had to use
super glue to stick his callouses on. He was talked into using 11
gauge strings near the end of his life to save his fingers. Thicker
strings sound less bright.

I dont know a terribly lot about his amps but they used solid state
rectifiers in them which makes them on the hotter side of things.
Probably some other mods as well, you might find out more info on
that if you google around, my main interest was his Number One guitar
and the pickups. He also used amps chained together instead of one
amp, this really gets good tone when done right.

Its interesting that Fender came out with Texas Specials claiming
thats what SRV used in his guitar; this was basically a bold faced
lie, those pickups were meant to imitate his tone which included all
those tweaks so you could get closer to that tone with a simple
guitar and amp setup instead of doing everything he did, those
pickups were designed to be dark to imitate that sound. Unfortunately
they are nothing like what he used, they use 43 gauge wire instead of
42 heavy formvar, use plastic bobbins, and have magnets that are all
the same height but pushed up to form a fake stagger. they are
designed to make money and not much else :-)

Then you really have to consider his hands and playing style, he
sounded pretty much the same on any guitar he played. I have a young
friend who has Stevie's tone in his hands, anything he plays he gets
that kind of tone. Stevie really punched the strings when he played,
very forceful sound.

After I came up with this set I could really hear in his playing the
heavy formvar tone. With heavy formvar pickups you have to work for
your leads a little harder, they don't naturally cover up your
mistakes or sustain real well, which just goes to show even more how
great a player he was. To me his best tone was when he wasn't using
his Tubescreamer at all, in fact his tone was pretty clean and not
really high gain if you really examine his style closely. He was a
great player, but don't forget where he got it from...Hendrix and
Albert King. Both those guys were true orginals, Stevie took what
they did and pushed it a step further.....

Dave

rodmac
06-15-2008, 03:08 PM
WoW, great info and thanx Dave. RMac

stratocat63
06-15-2008, 03:13 PM
Cool. Anyone found that youtube of the guitar autopsy?

DonM
06-15-2008, 03:31 PM
From a unreliable source I have - all close to 5.7's

the other rumor is they were all rewound by Old Man Van Zant and "possibly" his "Vintage Hot"?? set is totally based on SRV's -- I'd be willing to try those myself. and worth a call to Van Zant family to pick their brains on the subject..

NTBluesGuitar
06-15-2008, 03:52 PM
... go look on YouTube for the video of the Fender autopsy of that guitar

Is this the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCp0Shxmozk) you're referring to?

Was that PG on the original #1?

Polynitro
06-15-2008, 09:26 PM
So what are the specs? Why don't they just give us the numbers? What's the big secret?

For that matter what are the specs for the Texas specials?

I bet SRV's number 1 are maybe 1% overwound or something silly.

Nacho Strato
06-16-2008, 12:29 AM
i've read somewhere that they're actually quite underwound and weak.

8Painting
06-16-2008, 09:06 AM
So what are the specs? Why don't they just give us the numbers? What's the big secret?

For that matter what are the specs for the Texas specials?

I bet SRV's number 1 are maybe 1% overwound or something silly.


I've read a few articles on it, and they all pretty much admitted, there wasnt anything special about it at all.

ugacrow
06-16-2008, 09:28 AM
Is this the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCp0Shxmozk) you're referring to?

Was that PG on the original #1?

I love the irony in the fact that the video has "Lenny" playing the entire time... a song which SRV never ever played live with No. 1/Main Wife (he obviously used Lenny for that song).

pickaguitar
06-16-2008, 09:36 AM
Any good pics of his pickups? To check how high/low they were set...

Eagle1
06-16-2008, 09:53 AM
an email i recieved from dave stephens/ sd pickups:

I should write an article and just send it out everytime I get this
inquiry :-) I don't know everything, mind you, but I did do alot of
research on him and that guitar in particular.
A big thing about that guitar, even when it had more finish on it, is
that it never really had much finish on it, just a thin nitro finish
mostly beat off from use. I did a fun thing with a cheap Squire strat
a couple years ago I got for $100, I hated that guitar it was so new
and shiny with all its plastic coating and bleached white neck. Plus
it sounded really bright and twangy in a bad way. So I took a heat
gun to it and melted the plastic off and burned it purposefully in
the process, making a fake cheap "relic" look, I really enjoyed
wrecking that guitar :-) I also did alot of sanding to get even more
finish off, I ended up about what SRV's was, very little finish left.
Well, it remarkably changed the tone of the guitar, it now has a soft
plesant tone, even with maple neck. I also took shoe polish and
"aged" the neck color.

His pickups were examined in that hotel room autopsy by Fender awhile
back, they commented that the "neck pickup was hottest, the other two
relatively weak, all bobbins were copper foil shielded." The
description matches what pickups in '59 were, most of them had the
neck the hottes pickup. Copper foil wrapping and grounding acts as a
"shorted turn" in electronics lingo, which basically clips off the
treble a bunch. These pickups are heavy formvar and can be on the
squeaky clean/bright side so this helps mellow them down some. Even
though the vintage Fender pickups are more mellow sounding than new
pickups, some of the better preserved ones can still be pretty
bright. So a basically unfinished guitar and shielded pickups really
soften the pickups in a good combination.

Like Hendrix he preferred longer cheap guitar cords that have higher
capacitance, they act as tone caps and clip the treble again. Cesar
Diaz once gave him a high efficiency expensive guitar cord and Stevie
gave it back saying "it let too much electricity through." As you
know he used real heavy strings too on a baseball sized neck, go look
on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/) for the video of the Fender autopsy of that guitar, the
neck is really thick, this tones the guitar down too. He used 12s and
sometimes 13's which is why he tore his fingers up and had to use
super glue to stick his callouses on. He was talked into using 11
gauge strings near the end of his life to save his fingers. Thicker
strings sound less bright.

I dont know a terribly lot about his amps but they used solid state
rectifiers in them which makes them on the hotter side of things.
Probably some other mods as well, you might find out more info on
that if you google around, my main interest was his Number One guitar
and the pickups. He also used amps chained together instead of one
amp, this really gets good tone when done right.

Its interesting that Fender came out with Texas Specials claiming
thats what SRV used in his guitar; this was basically a bold faced
lie, those pickups were meant to imitate his tone which included all
those tweaks so you could get closer to that tone with a simple
guitar and amp setup instead of doing everything he did, those
pickups were designed to be dark to imitate that sound. Unfortunately
they are nothing like what he used, they use 43 gauge wire instead of
42 heavy formvar, use plastic bobbins, and have magnets that are all
the same height but pushed up to form a fake stagger. they are
designed to make money and not much else :-)

Then you really have to consider his hands and playing style, he
sounded pretty much the same on any guitar he played. I have a young
friend who has Stevie's tone in his hands, anything he plays he gets
that kind of tone. Stevie really punched the strings when he played,
very forceful sound.

After I came up with this set I could really hear in his playing the
heavy formvar tone. With heavy formvar pickups you have to work for
your leads a little harder, they don't naturally cover up your
mistakes or sustain real well, which just goes to show even more how
great a player he was. To me his best tone was when he wasn't using
his Tubescreamer at all, in fact his tone was pretty clean and not
really high gain if you really examine his style closely. He was a
great player, but don't forget where he got it from...Hendrix and
Albert King. Both those guys were true orginals, Stevie took what
they did and pushed it a step further.....

Dave
Great info but as much as I hate Texas Specials they do have staggered magnets and a fiber bobbin, you must have seen the Tex Mex as these are as you describe.
The dc data is as you said totally wrong as they made them without putting a meter on the originals and the middle one is RWRP also wrong if you want it to sound like No1.

sinasl1
06-16-2008, 10:01 AM
I'd like to point out that when the guitar was examined, the neck on #1 was not the original that Stevie played all through his career, the guitar was damaged by a falling light truss just before he passed away, and the neck was replaced, so when the guitar was examined, it had the replacement neck...

airwarrior
06-16-2008, 10:06 AM
Not true, Stevie's tech (His name escapes me at the moment) put the original neck back on the guitar when he gave it to Stevie's family. In its current state the guitar is not in very playable condition because of the once retired neck.

ugacrow
06-16-2008, 12:34 PM
Not true, Stevie's tech (His name escapes me at the moment) put the original neck back on the guitar when he gave it to Stevie's family. In its current state the guitar is not in very playable condition because of the once retired neck.

You're talking about Rene Martinez.

Kelly
06-16-2008, 02:14 PM
Several necks were used on #1 over the years. The one that was destroyed was supposedly the one Rene took off of "Butter" and put on #1. The original neck is back on there now. If I'm not mistaken, I've seen pictures of #1 with left-handed necks and new Fender necks, also.

KBR
06-16-2008, 03:35 PM
The Late WL Van Zandt, told me in 1988 He gave Stevie, & Jimmie Vaughan and Anson Funderburgh the 1st 3 sets of Strat Pickups, and Stevie Put them in the 59/62 old #1 Strat.
WL was not into name dropping and super humble. He was Tele Country player who knew how to make good Strat and Tele pups.
I have used and sold alot of Van Zandts, and the old ones were better than the ones after his passing in 1996. I have an old 5.6K True Vintage neck pup that gets close to SRV's neck pup tones. (But he may have used the Rock 7.4K models? then again, when using more than 1 strong amps together, a 5.6l or similar pup will be strong when played hard and with Stevie's power.

Anson took windings off his set. so maybe they were the Blues models?
Who knows?

theduder87
04-08-2011, 12:40 PM
The neck that was on Stevie's number "1" guitar when the stanchion fell on it was the original guitar neck from "Red". and the fall also broke the lefty neck on "Red" at the same time, Fender sent them 2 new vintage necks to get through the tour. When SRV passed the "Original" neck from number "1" was put back on and givin to brother Jimmie Lee Vaughan. The reason the original neck was off in the first place was because they couldn't re-fret it anymore.

gulliver
04-08-2011, 01:17 PM
I wonder how heavy his guitars are ... the reason I ask, I tried Fralin Blues Specials in a light weight strat and they had poor response, seemed like I'd play the heck out of them to get next to nothing. I put them in a heavy parts-o-caster, all around heavier than a typical fender, and they have that SRV gutsy digging in tone, something you'll never get out of texas Specials. I don't think general ohms and cap values touch on what's needed to get that tone.

Dev...in
04-08-2011, 03:45 PM
It doesent suprise me to hear that his pickups were NOT overwound, you cant get that kind of clarity/detail with that kind of volume using (conventional) "hot" pups. He let his amps work like hell... and his attack with the fat strings and weaker magnets just sang. Great player

Autoesq
04-08-2011, 04:54 PM
i've read somewhere that they're actually quite underwound and weak.

I spoke to a masterbuilder at Fender (I won't mention his name but I'll say he had a hand in doing the no. 1 replicas) who told me that the pickups were in fact underwound and would be considered weak.

The tone was pure SRV. That being said, mortals like myself need the pickups to be overwound, like the Texas Specials in order to approximate that sound.

One Chord Wonder
04-08-2011, 08:35 PM
The resistance measurements of said pickups were published in Guitar World in 1995 and the source cited was someone (who's name escapes me) who works for Fender. The quote said all the pickups measured over 6k, but that may have been a fabrication intended to sell more sets of Texas Specials, which are 6k or hotter.

The way I read it, Texas Specials were originally developed when SRV was working with Fender to create his signature model. They asked him if he wanted a bit more crunch from the pickups and he said, yeah.

The idea that there's all this "magic" involved is pretty amusing, but it seems to work wonders for selling guitars.