Anyone tried the Fender WRHB CuNiFe Reissue?

geetarguy24

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Apologies, as this has probably been asked 1,000 times, but has anyone gotten to try this pickup in the bridge position? I impulse pre-ordered one from Sweetwater to pop into my Jag, but it's been delayed, and I'm wondering if this is a sign to cancel my pre-order and buy a Novak instead.

The Novak is not CuNiFe, but is very highly regarded by people who seem to know their stuff, and I would be supporting a small business. And while some unobtainium magnets are enticing, Fender doesn't have a sterling track record of making good humbuckers.

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated.
 

Fearnot

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The Lollar is the only WRHB knockoff I think sounds as good as the original... but still different. And it costs more than the Fender CuNiFes do.

You pays your money...
 

variantboy

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I wanted to answer this post, but add backstory so that my opinion is qualified. Please be warned this is a long post - but it has been 20 years in the making... so there's that.

In and around 1997 I walked into a shop and a tele caught my eye that I'd never seen before... with an F-hole like a violin. I was like.. "what is THAT???". I loved the look of it - and that's what made me pick it up.

I plugged it in and instantly decided I needed to take it home. I'd never really been a tele guy to that point, but this one made me change my mind. It was a real deal 1972 Thinline (I don't think they had even started making reissues of it then). I was instantly smitten, and used that as my main guitar for about 3 or 4 years until I regrettably sold it in 2001 for some cash to assist in making a large move - thinking I'd replace it someday. I of course had no idea where the vintage guitar market was going to go in the 5 years that followed.. but I digress.

Having loved that guitar, I had been converted to a Tele guy .... but had methodically become more fond of the clarity and detail of single coil pickups than I was of humbuckers. In retrospect, it may have been related to the fact that each time I tried a guitar with a humbucker.. it was ok... but missing something that I'd remembered from those WRHBs.

Even though I had become (and still remain to this day) a single coil person, there was still something subconscious about that old 72 thinline that I missed.

By about 2006 or 2007, having missed that guitar for long enough..I decided I wanted to have that sound in my arsenal again, and didn't want to wait any longer.

By this time, the actual vintage 72's were about $3k-5k and that was not going to happen. So in the years that followed - I tried the reissues - a couple of times - not yet really understanding that the pickups were not the same. Needless to say, they all fell short - not because there's anything wrong with THOSE humbuckers.. but because they did not sound like the WRHBs from the original 72.

That inspired me to do some research - and learn why they didn't sound the same. From that learning, and from discovering that the option existed, I decided have the stock RI pickups on one of those reissues reconstructed by Curtis Novak. All due respect to him (for the record, he makes GREAT pickups btw).. those really did not do it for me. Either my now long removed memory of those pickups was serving me incorrectly, or there was just something sorely *off* about the reconstructed versions.

So.. then I decided to pony up for a set of Lollar Regals - as the sound clips online sounded really promising. That ended up being a big NOPE for me personally. The push in the 2k-4k frequency range was so focused and strong.. I just couldn't even bring myself to play them. Again - they are good pickups - just not for me.

They got sold and I gave up there and then.

So - full disclosure - I did not try telenators (the cunife versions were more than I was willing to pay at the time they were available), I did not try creamery, brandonwound, etc... I just figured.. I would go through thousands of dollars taking that gamble and maybe not getting what I wanted... so I gave up.


Now fast forward to 2020.. and Fender announces (20 years after I sold my precious '72) that they are going to make these pickups again. Well... I was on board.

I got them about 3 weeks ago... and I put them in an MJT body I had laying around, with a Road Worn 50s tele neck (7.25 radius, 6105 frets) ...

..and...

It was immediately transportive.

These **ARE** what I remember. And despite being a pretty religious single coil person, I can't put this guitar down.

They have the upper midrange (2k-4k) bump for sure... but no where near as pronounced as the couple of "remakes" that I had tried... and nowhere near as much as a typical humbucker... which is as I understand it, exactly what Seth Lover was going for back in 1972. As a single coil, person, they of course don't tick that "chime/clarity" box as actual single coils do, but they INFER it enough to keep someone like me interested.

They are not single coils. They are not humbuckers. They have that "nose" that a humbucker has.. but not annoyingly so.. they have a bit of that "clear" top end that most humbuckers do not have. They have an "earthiness" to them.. a "boxy/woody" sound..but not cloudy or muddy. When you hit them hard they don't "spike" like a humbucker does.. they kind of "collapse/compress" with a little more even-ness.

..and... when they are slightly overdriven.. it is MADNESS how good they sound - to me of course. This is specifically true (for me) for the Bridge pickup. The bridge pickup clean is simply not what this pickup is for. It's a little honky when it's completely clean, by itself. But when you tune an amp - drive, treble, bass, presence for that bridge pickup, and you push it into overdrive (especially on a tweed)... it's just complete wow factor to me. It has a grain and a growl to it that I've just not heard in many humbuckers.. not unexpectedly like a single coil, but having the bottom of a humbucker. just like was intended.

So - I add all this backstory to indicate that my interest in these pickups was not that I saw some hipster in the 2000s with this guitar and I had to have something similar... or that I heard about these pickups in some snotty review suggesting they were some tonally mystical magic boxes... I had 4 years of experience with the originals that were born out of nothing more than having a guitar catch my eye in a shop before any of the "mystique" had started.. and fell in love with the SOUND of them... and have been fruitlessly chasing that sound for 2 decades ... until now.

Again - as I've said in other threads.. I'm not saying that CuNiFE (Fender..please say "queue - knife", not "queue-knee-fay" Uggghh) is the only way to this tone. It's probably not. But I waited til these came out because I didn't have the patience or cash to keep trying one after the other. So - in the end, the short review is...

"If you don't want to spend a lot of money on one copy after the other, get these. They are in fact the real deal, by one experienced user's measure".

There you have it. Just one man's opinion. Take it for what it's worth.
 
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variantboy

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After thinking for a while about my long post above, I felt I needed to add a small afterthought where I didn't gush so much. It's only fair - and I don't want to be the guy here that's trying to push the "mysticism" idea.

What I wanted to make note of is that, in my opinion, there is a flaw in the WRHB that was present in the original ones, and still in these (what I feel are accurate) reproductions. It's not a huge flaw, and it's not necessarily an uncommon flaw.. but it's there nonetheless.

If you check some threads about WRHBs - you will notice some think that the WRHB Bridge pickup is the weaker link of the two, and that the star of the WRHB "show" is the neck pickup. I've gone on record in other threads - and implied in this thread - that I don't necessarily agree with that - especially when you get into overdriven tones, as I feel that it's in that application that the bridge pickup really shines.

THAT SAID - here's where I think my opinion and those other opinions actually are in alignment. It's this "flaw" I mentioned.

I think the prime weakness of these pickups is that it's somewhat difficult to have a single amp (or guitar) tone setting that allows both neck and bridge pickup to do their best stuff. Meaning - if you set your treble, and bass settings to allow the WRHB neck to be clear, but still full.. you're going to get a somewhat thin sounding bridge pickup.. daresay even a little nasal and "honky".

But if you eq your amp to bring out the low tones of the bridge pickup, and a slightly attenuated high end, where the "honk" and "bark" is tamed a little, but you can still perceive the "crunch" or "growl" of them, then - your neck pickup is going to come off a little dark and murky.

Like I said.. not a huge flaw.. and not uncommon.. and not unmanageable. but worth noting to those who are coming here to get other people's thoughts on these pickups.

I think this is the thing that was bouncing around my head after I posted the long message above. It should be said ... these pickups... like all others.. are not the embodiment of perfection like some suggest. But damn it they're fun as hell and when they're tweaked just so.. they really kick a lot of arse.

Ok. That was my afterthought. Hope it's of any use
 

Fearnot

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I think the prime weakness of these pickups is that it's somewhat difficult to have a single amp (or guitar) tone setting that allows both neck and bridge pickup to do their best stuff. Meaning - if you set your treble, and bass settings to allow the WRHB neck to be clear, but still full.. you're going to get a somewhat thin sounding bridge pickup.. daresay even a little nasal and "honky".

Honestly, I have the same, umm, 'problem' with my two Jazzmasters. Warm neck, twangy bridge. I cope fine with it. Looking forward to ordering some CuNiFes for my Squier Starcaster when they're back in stock.
 

EsquireOK

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No...but very curious about the Mojo-Tone one as well. I like that it doesn't have the engraved logo (and is $70 cheaper per pickup). It does use threaded magnet pole pieces, but not CuNiFe.
 

charlie chitlin

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Honestly, I have the same, umm, 'problem' with my two Jazzmasters. Warm neck, twangy bridge. I cope fine with it. Looking forward to ordering some CuNiFes for my Squier Starcaster when they're back in stock.
This is why neck and middle are the stars if that show.
If you get that right and go to the bridge, be ready for some knob twiddling.
It was insightful (or just lucky) to put a Gibson-style independent volume-tone set up on the Custom.
Frankly...I didn't even know you could get a thinline with single vol/tone and a WRHB.
Now I want one.
 

geetarguy24

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Thank you to all who replied, but especially variantboy! That was a fantastic writeup that definitely convinced me to stick with the Fender reissue - whenever it may arrive.

I can totally see the issues you mentioned about bridge pup and neck pup balance being off. I was actually planning on just replacing the bridge pickup in my Jag for just this reason: love the neck and middle sound, bridge is way too thin and nasally for the kind of music I make. I was hoping the WRHB would add some thickness to the bridge position, but wouldn't be too bright when paired with the 24" scale.

It sounds like the CuNiFe reissue is the right answer for me, thanks again all! I'll try and upload some pics post-mod once the pickup comes in. Cheers!
 
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geetarguy24

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I like that it doesn't have the engraved logo (and is $70 cheaper per pickup)

Same! I looked at the Mojotones for a long time, and probably even hit "add to cart" on them once or twice, but never did pull the trigger. I also prefer the plain logo. Someone did say in the big CuNiFe thread from January that they had the Mojotones, but still thought the switch to the CuNiFes was justified, for what that's worth.
 

EsquireOK

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Same! I looked at the Mojotones for a long time, and probably even hit "add to cart" on them once or twice, but never did pull the trigger. I also prefer the plain logo. Someone did say in the big CuNiFe thread from January that they had the Mojotones, but still thought the switch to the CuNiFes was justified, for what that's worth.

Well, of course the person who made the switch will report that it was worthwhile to make the switch...:D
 

geetarguy24

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Where did you read that? To my knowledge (I could be wrong), and based on the press release when they came out, they are CuNiFe.

Novak's website didn't mention anything about CuNiFe magnets on their WRHB page. Considering they are not commercially available, and are a pretty big selling point, I just assumed that no mention of CuNiFe would indicate that they were not, but I havent been able to find details one eay or the other, so I'm not positive either
 

ruger9

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I'm definitely getting a set of these- just as soon as I find a guitar (I want to buy) to out them in!

Have actually been considering building one, with a Warmoth Custom body...
 

variantboy

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Thank you to all who replied, but especially variantboy! That was a fantastic writeup that definitely convinced me to stick with the Fender reissue - whenever it may arrive.

I can totally see the issues you mentioned about bridge pup and neck pup balance being off. I was actually planning on just replacing the bridge pickup in my Jag for just this reason: love the neck and middle sound, bridge is way too thin and nasally for the kind of music I make. I was hoping the WRHB would add some thickness to the bridge position, but wouldn't be too bright when paired with the 24" scale.

It sounds like the CuNiFe reissue is the right answer for me, thanks again all! I'll try and upload some pics post-mod once the pickup comes in. Cheers!


I'm definitely getting a set of these- just as soon as I find a guitar (I want to buy) to out them in!

Have actually been considering building one, with a Warmoth Custom body...


oh crap. for the record - I take no responsibility for any disappointed customers !!! :D

I stand by my comments... but everyone is different and has different ears!! I sincerely hope those who opt for the Fenders are as happy with them as I have been.

Best of luck - and lets hear your opinions... whether they differ or not.
 

ruger9

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oh crap. for the record - I take no responsibility for any disappointed customers !!! :D

I stand by my comments... but everyone is different and has different ears!! I sincerely hope those who opt for the Fenders are as happy with them as I have been.

Best of luck - and lets hear your opinions... whether they differ or not.

It's pretty interesting- since I started researching these "unobtanium" pickups years ago, most of the opinions- from people who either owned or own real vintage WRHBs- (and also have owned the recent aftermarket ones NOT made with CuNiFe)- mirror yours. It's all good. Despite what some pickup builders say "the magnet doesn't matter/much"... that is not proving to be true in real-world opinions.

I wonder how long Fender will be able to produce these? Since they like changing their products more than a stripper changes underwear....
 

jvin248

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Great write up there variantboy.

I would add though for the OP .. verify what volume pot kohms you have for that WRHB bridge pickup you are ordering and what you have now. I assume you have a 500k volume pot and if so, find a 470k fixed resistor and clip it temporarily across the outer two lugs of that volume pot to drop it to 250k. Does the bridge pickup you have work better? The neck will be darker, maybe too dark, but test it. If that works then you'll want to figure out the switching circuit that gets put on some HS Telecasters to handle separating volume pot values by pickup. I'd be concerned that your new WRHB will be brighter (and thinner) than your current bridge humbucker so do some testing before that arrives.

.
 

ruger9

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But if you eq your amp to bring out the low tones of the bridge pickup, and a slightly attenuated high end, where the "honk" and "bark" is tamed a little, but you can still perceive the "crunch" or "growl" of them, then - your neck pickup is going to come off a little dark and murky.

This can be fixed by adding a capacitor in series with the neck pickup's hot lead. I've done it several times, to WRHBs (not CuNiFe) as well as PAFs. It's simple, cheap, easy, and it works. It's called the "de-mud mod" if you look it up. Capacitor value depends on the pickup (how much low end it has, how much you want to remove).
 

LetItGrowTone

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For anyone who doesn't know, the above bass blocking capacitor idea is used in Rickenbacker basses. In that case its a .0047uF.
 




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