Fletcher pickups

MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member
Thought I'd start a proper thread in the building and repairs section for this one - my custom order Fletcher pickups set from Ben Fletcher ( http://shedguitars.wix.com/fletcherpickups ) has just arrived this morning, which I will be fitting in my grey-black burst Shine SIL-510. Obviously I haven't had chance to fit them yet, but I'm eager to get them installed this week. Anyway, they look fantastic, and I took some pics, so...The pickups arrived neatly packaged in a plastic box, with foam separating and protecting the tops (sign on delivery) - a neat and efficient way of doing things I thought.Wires and bags with height-adjust screws/springs neatly held in place with rubber bands.An end-on shot of the neck pickup - this one should be somewhere around 6.8K-ish (haven't tested the DC resistance yet, and I know it does vary with temperature anyway). But it's a low-wind PAF type - Ben Fletcher's alnico 2 "Heaven" model, and he tells me it's optimized for clarity, and getting a woody, organic kind of tone, which I was after. Ben suggested I might like to consider unpotted coils, which I decided to go for - (if used for high volume/gain rock guitar, there might be a danger of squeal/feedback, but I very much doubt there'll be any such issues for me - I'm sure non of my gigs get anywhere near rock volumes). Unpotted is said to give a more of an open, airy, 3D, organic sound - those kind of adjectives. The early PAF humbuckers were made like this I believe. I should also say that Ben will happily wax pot the pickups for me at no additional charge if I do find any issue, but as I say, I really doubt that will happen. You can also see that the coils have been asymmetrically wound - more turns on the screw coil, on the left hand side.A similar shot of the hot-wound "Elysium" model alnico 4 magnet bridge pickup. Again asymmetric coil winds, this time there are more winds on the slug coil. You can also see that both coils have a fair bit more wire on them compared to the neck pickup - examining the pickup, it doesn't feel like much more wire could have been accommodated by the bobbins, although I might be wrong about that. After discussion, I asked Ben to wind this one to somewhere over 9 Kohm, and basically as hot as he thought he could reasonably go without spoiling the sound, and still respecting the model design. It should be a good pickup to use for smooth overdrive/distortion (fusion and blues in my case), but also still able to produce sweet clean tones.Another end-on shot - you can just see a bit of a genuine maple spacer on the left, and the end of a rough-cast alnico magnet to the right of that.I'm really happy with the double cream-coloured bobbins I chose - should add a bit of distinctiveness to the look of the guitar, also a bit of visual warmth, and I think a very smart look also.Just a shot showing the nickel-silver baseplates - overall, I think the pickups have got to be fantastic value for a little over £50 delivered - I have got myself a set of custom, made to order pickups, including detailed discussion of requirements with the maker, for not much more than the cost of many generic, factory-produced pickups. Amazing really - can't wait to get them in the guitar anyhow. I'll just add that Ben Fletcher is a nice chap to chat with, and that his genuine enthusiasm for guitars and pickup design is very apparent - he has taken a real interest and care in respect of what I would like from my pickups, which I've much appreciated.


  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,046Member, Moderator

    Look forward to following this thread.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member

    Thanks Jocko, I love having a guitar project on the go (I know you do too!) - I'll be updating the thread as I progress. I did just measure the DC resistances of the pickups, and on a pleasant, not cold May morning, indoors, I get the bridge one at just over 10.2K and the neck at about 6.9 Kohm. So the bridge is going to be pretty pokey compared to a vintage PAF type - but that's exactly what I was after - and the neck should be lovely, clear and nuanced for jazz use.

    I think it's partly my preferred amp settings, but I do find I prefer to have the bridge pickup a lot hotter than the neck pickup - this just seems to work for me. So I'm glad Ben didn't hold back with hot-winding the bridge unit - I think he understood what I was after very well there, and he knows his pickup designs better than anyone, and how far things can be pushed.

    Incidentally, temperature really does have a significant impact on the DC resistance of a pickup (I'm sure you know that already) - I found this article on the Lollar website:



  • Mark PMark P Posts: 2,314Member

    Alnico II and unpotted sounds like a good combination to me - it would certainly fit for your musical styles.

    I have a set of Alnico II unpotted Duncan / Lover SH55 humbuckers that turned the Hagstrom Viking Deluxe from being decent sounding to great sounding overnight. For clean and lightly driven they are the d's b's.

    I look forward to seeing how you get on with your Fletchers.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member

    Thanks for that Mark - I well recall your favourable impressions of the SD Seth Lover set when you fitted them, and your mentioning that they were unpotted - maybe that was an unconscious influence for me when choosing the specs of the Fletcher set. Ben, the maker, told me that in his own tests with unpotted pickups, he has found he can play at "painfully" high gain/volume without any trace of squeal. He feels a lot of this is down to making the pickups in the right way. I did think about maybe having the bridge pickup potted, since that one is a lot hotter-wound, and intended for some use with overdrive/distortion, but in the end I decided to trust what he says - I do think having both pickups unpotted makes them more of a match.

  • RomanMRomanM Posts: 474Member

    Following, without any hope of a sound clip.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member

    A bit annoying, but I haven't had as much free time this week as I hoped, and have not had time to start on fitting the pickups. I'm considering pushing the boat out and buying one of these NSF 6-way switches


    - I like that it would allow me to make use of the 4-conductor wiring I specified for the pickups, while still keeping the guitar simple to operate. I'm not the biggest fan of push-pull pots, although not violently opposed, and the NSF switch seems more elegant. But that is another £35, and in truth, I don't really need a massive range of tones - a few good ones will do fine -so maybe I should just go for a single push pull on the tone control, to coil tap the pickups, with a standard 3 way selector switch, and leave it at that.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member
    RomanM posted:

    Following, without any hope of a sound clip.

    There's always hope Roman!  image I do think I should be able to post some clips of the guitar being used at a gig at some stage, which is maybe not a bad way to showcase things, and about the best I can do. I'm afraid I'm not much use with home recording, and don't have decent mics to use for that either. I do tend to think the sound through a real amp is the best measure of guitar pickups.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member

    Today is wiring day - finally have some time clear. Think I'm just going to go for a fairly simple circuit and make life easy - just a single coil split switch via a push-pull on the tone control.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member

    It is 9.37 pm by my watch - I've only just had chance to test the guitar out with amp, having spent all day slaving over a hot soldering iron, and then the usual clean and oil of the fretboard, and new strings. Anyhow, it sounds rather nice - the neck pickup is gorgeous - woody, deep and fat sounding, but also very detailed and clear. It really sings - might just be the best neck pickup sound I've used in fact.

    The bridge pickup is nice in a different way - perhaps not quite the same clear/detailed aspect, but then it is a lot hotter wound. Volume-wise it balances well with the neck, so I'm really chuffed about that, as that's been a bit of a problem with some other pickup sets I've had. I've only tried it with a clean amp sound, but I can tell it will be right up my street for overdrive/distortion sounds - it's kind of 'smoothed off' with the highs taken down somewhat, and the mids beefed up a bit. Quite a punchy sound I'd say. I like it a lot anyhow - it's clearly a different beast to the neck pickup, even allowing for the different position, so switching from neck to bridge takes the sound into a different kind of territory. But I like that, and it will certainly make for a versatile guitar.

    The two pickups together is a nice tone too - I'd say probably the neck pickup manages to "win" that one, in that the sound is still very clear and detailed. It's an open, slightly 'acoustic-ish' kind of tone maybe. Also very nice is that the coil tap on the tone control push-pull does good things. The neck becomes a little brighter, with a bit less body, and if anything even more clear and detailed, but still sweet and warm. I can see myself using this for accompanying my singer friend Beryl - sometimes a beefy fat jazz tone can seem just a bit overwhelming for that kind of purpose. The bridge pickup takes on the clear/detailed aspect a lot more when tapped too - quite a different kind of tone compared to with both coils. Anyhow, I'm very pleased I took the trouble to add the coil tap, as it does yield some very nice, and different extra tones.

    So, happy, and a bit knackered to be honest - enough for one day, but I'll put some pics up tomorrow. It will be interesting to compare it with the pickups in the red Shine also - I have a feeling these new pickups are going to edge it there. image

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member

    Time for some more pics of the pickup installation:

    Control cavity with most of the previous wiring taken out - lazily just snipped through most of the wires to get things out. The wires from the previous pickups still visible coming in at the side, and I've left the wires attached to the jack, as I can just solder onto those to make the new job a bit easier.


    One last shot of the old pickups - GFS Surf 90 in the neck slot, Warman G-rails in the bridge.


    Pickups and surrounds removed - looking at the side of the neck pickup cavity, you can see that the guitar body is made in two layers, both the same wood type, one stuck on top of the other - this is how the f-hole chamber on one side of the guitar is able to be done I guess. I always thought the body was basswood, but looking here, I'm not so sure. Maybe some kind of light-ish mahogany related wood perhaps.


    I was curious, so took the cover off the GFS Surf 90, and this is what I saw:


    Just in case anyone else is curious - it's basically a fairly chunky coil around 6 wide alnico 2 magnets, with 6 screws to one side of the coil, and a steel bar to the side of these - I guess this arrangement must have some impact on the tone, although perhaps the main purpose is to give an appearance like the old Gretsch Dynasonic pickups. Still not sure what I'll do with this pickup, but it was pretty nice, so I'll keep it.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member

    Ploughing on, we come to fitting the new Ben Fletcher pickups, and the soldering part of the job:

    New pickups in the metal surrounds. The bridge pickup on the left has to stick out quite a bit (oo-er) so I found some suitable shorter springs to use for that, rather than the ones that came with the pickup - after doing a lot of guitar modding and parts building over the last decade or so, I have a useful box of bits for things like this, which is handy.


    My rudimentary, but functional wiring diagram. I tend to just label connections from the pickups with letters to keep it uncluttered - for example "NR" means neck pickup, red wire. I tend to think of wiring like going around a circuit from the jack tip (i.e. the hot side) through various possible routes, to the earth side that connects to the jack sleeve. Ben had wired both pickups so that in my terms it was a case of: in at the top coil (furthest from the bridge) via the red wire, out of that coil via a white wire, then into the next coil via green, and through to the black wire coming out the end of that coil. For the coil tap, in both cases I wanted to use the coil furthest from the bridge, i.e. the first one, so for both pickups it was a simple case of just shorting the middle connecting wires (white/green) to earth via the push-pull switch. In the end, the wire from the tone control went to the middle lug of the 3-way toggle, which amounts to the same thing.


    The pickups fitted and ready to be connected up:


    My soldering setup - I like to mount the components on a piece of card supported above the cavity, as it make working much easier, and also protects the guitar body.


    The job underway - actually the capacitor on the tone pot was just left from the previous job, and also I reused the wires from the middle tab of the toggle switch. A new volume pot though.


    Most of the wiring done, so time to install properly in the control cavity, and connect up the wires from the jack socket. You can see the red wires from the pickups going to the toggle switch, and the green/white wires going to the push-pull switch, where pulling up the switch will connect them to earth. The black wires (both shielding and from the end of the lower coils) all go to the back of the volume pot to connect to earth. As usual, I have a parallel resistor/capacitor treble bleed fitted between the hot and middle lug of the volume pot.


    Wiring installed and connected up to the jack. Liberal use of small cable ties - it works for me, keeping things neat, and also with a bit of thought, I can generally find a way hold things to ensure that the soldered connections will not be put under strain.


  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member

    What is left? Really just some pictures I took this morning of the guitar after giving the fretboard a clean and oil (almond oil) and restringing. I'm generally happy with the look of the cream bobbins I chose for the pickups - I suppose I could have gone for double white bobbins instead of double cream, but I like double cream in my coffee sometimes, and it does give a bit of warmth to the guitar's appearance too. At some point I'll take some better shots outdoors, but these will do for now:


    Just showing the difference in height adjustment needed for this guitar - I have got the bridge pickup a tad too close in this shot actually.


    So, Ben Fletcher pickups installed - low wind alnico 2 "Heaven" model in the neck, hot-wind alnico 4 "Elysium" model in the bridge - they sound just gorgeous, and I highly recommend him if you're after new pickups. image

  • Just TelJust Tel Posts: 512Member

    Lovely neat Job Megi, but then I would expect no less from you. Can't wait to hear the sound clips when you have them.

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    As Terry said - lovely neat job.  Look forward to hearing your gig report with

    I was a tad dubious regarding the price/quality combination of those hand wired pickups when you were initially looking at them, but I'm very happy for you to prove that my initial doubts look to be completely unfounded.

    Cheers, Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member

    Thanks chaps! I am going to attempt to do some sound clips for Ben, not sure exactly how I'll do with that, but the attempt will be made, and if I get any kind of half decent result, I'll also post those on here. I'm taking the guitar to a gig (unfortunately not to be recorded) this evening, so that will be fun - I'm very much looking forward to this, and seeing if the sound works with a band as well as I think it will. I should be able to get hold of a gig recording in the next couple of weeks though, which will just be from one of those portable Zoom recorder things, but at least reasonable sound quality.

  • Reg SoxReg Sox Posts: 3,121Member

    Why not do a side by side comparison playing the same piece on both your Shines?

    Basically the same music, same player, same guitar, only difference is the pick-ups.

    Rarely get to hear that sort of comparison and it will serve to highlight what sort of difference pick-up choices can make.

    Cheers, Reg.

  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member

    Not a bad suggestion, cheers for that thought Reg. image

  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 940Member
    Megi, I don't know what happened but your pictures aren't showing up. I'd love to see more of these pickups. Would you mind fixing that? Thanks
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member

    Megi, I don't know what happened but your pictures aren't showing up. I'd love to see more of these pickups. Would you mind fixing that? Thanks

    Not sure either - thanks for the interest anyhow though. I'll see if I can find the pictures when I have time, a bit busy just at the moment. :)

  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 940Member
    Cheers :) And if I was going to be a real pest, I'd bug you for those audio files too... .;-)
  • LesterLester Posts: 1,658Member, Moderator

    ... pictures aren't showing up.

    FYI, Richard, the forum owner, changed to different forum software and he mentioned that none of the images were transferred over.
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 940Member
    Ah, that explains it.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member
    Hi again Nicholas - I found the pics, and have uploaded them to a Photobucket folder, so you can look at them here:

    http://s1153.photobucket.com/user/Megi99/library/Shine SIL510 fitting Ben Fletcher pickups?sort=2&page=1

    http://s1153.photobucket.com/user/Megi99/library/Shine SIL510 fitting Ben Fletcher pickups?sort=2&page=2

    Forgive me for not editing the original posts to include them, but it would just take me too long to do. Hopefully you can figure out what you're looking at with the pics anyhow - there are some shots of the old pickups I took out, just out of interest - the new Ben Fletcher ones are the humbuckers with double-cream bobbins. I still love the sound of these pickups and how they work with the guitar - has to be about the best result from a guitar modification that I've had, and it's a favourite guitar of mine to use for gigs. :)
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 940Member

    Thanks Megi. Those are great. The cream looks fab against the dark grain. Gorjus! You're right, Ben does a great job.
  • MegiMegi Posts: 7,153Member


    Thanks Megi. Those are great. The cream looks fab against the dark grain. Gorjus! You're right, Ben does a great job.

    Thanks - I hummed and hared over the the colour for the pickups, but in the end I was very chuffed with the look of the cream bobbins. :)
  • nicholaspaulnicholaspaul Posts: 940Member
    Oh I can spend MONTHS deciding on colour schemes. It becomes an obsession! I even resorted to asking others' opinions and scouring Google images for confirmation, but I've come to the conclusion that nobody else can make the decision for me and if I like it, well stuff em!
    I'm still going to get a strat with a mint scratchplate one of these days :)
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