What Is So Special About The Fender Wide Range Humbucker?

Discussion in 'Just Pickups' started by darylcrisp, Sep 15, 2020 at 2:46 AM.

  1. knavel

    knavel Tele-Meister

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    I still have friends who say "dummfu%ker" pickups when speaking to me as that was the reference I used for years and years. So that's my background.

    The only humbuckers I like are WRHB and Gretsch Filtertrons; and I like them both a lot.They both have subtlety and breathe unlike a diMarzio or some such dummfu%ker.

    So much do I like WRHB, that I already have two of the newly released WRB from Fender sitting in wait for a Tele Deluxe addition to the stable whose particulars will depend on whether and when Fender releases and AO Tele Deluxe soon as it has the AO Tele Custom. My brother has the new AO 70s Tele Custom and it is his favorite guitar (and he has two 50s Teles, etc). I'd buy a new one too if I fidn't already have my 1975.

    I find my mid 70s Tele Custom to be one of if not the most versatile guitars I own--the single coil squeals with a distortion box if not managed but the WRHB is just great. It's great both in my studio and live, which is not the case with a fair few of my guitars.

    IMG-20190812-WA0005.jpg The greatest thing CBS ever did was the WRHB and 70s Tele Custom IMHO. Accept no imitations!
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020 at 10:54 PM
  2. Dan_Pomykalski

    Dan_Pomykalski Tele-Meister

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    For some reason someone overrating a pickup they've never played doesn't make a ton of sense or seem incredibly likely, but maybe I'm just projecting...
     
  3. EsquireOK

    EsquireOK Friend of Leo's

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    The original designs sound fantastic, if they haven't lost a lot of juice over the decades...and to some degree, even if they have lost some.

    They are humbuckery, but without that humbuckery midrange that can easily smear over the articulation unless you do some pretty involved e.q. adjustments. That "smear" is just the ticket sometimes...but not all the time.

    The result is a pickup that is noise free and articulate, but without the brashness that often comes from clean and articulate pickups.

    The WRHBs have Bill Lawrence's style all over them IMO...even though it was Seth Lover's pickup. Lawrence was all about making pickups that are hum free, articulate but not harsh, and highly malleable with outboard gear.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020 at 12:21 AM
  4. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    Here's some very technical info about the WRHB if you want to geek out:

    https://www.gitec-forum-eng.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/tz_fender_wide_range_humbucker_pt_1.pdf

    https://www.gitec-forum-eng.de/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/tz_fender_wide_range_humbucker_pt_2.pdf

    IMO, way too much is made of the CuNiFe magnets. They're essentially a weaker AlNiCo. Removing steel poles from the humbucker design and replacing it with CuNiFe or AlNiCo causes the inductance to go down, and the Q factor to go up. A high resonant Q and frequency have come to be thought of as "Fendery" sounding, because nearly all other pickups available on the market involve a lot of steel parts which reduce their Q factors and peak frequencies. The Mexico reissues were just regular Gibson style humbuckers wearing a WRHB costume. If non-adjustable AlNiCo 2 or 3 were used instead, and steel parts minimized, you'd get a much closer approximation to a CuNiFe WRHB.
     
  5. stupot

    stupot TDPRI Member

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    the problem is Fender don't make a proper Wide range pick up anymore apparently, as video stats. i did some research and found a boutique, hand made and wound, who pride themselves of making these to original specs. " jess Loureiro hand wound pick ups " he is based in Spain. i bought the '72 custom set, a wide range in neck and traditional in bridge. very happy with the results and i think they sound great, reasonably priced too !
     
  6. Kristian

    Kristian TDPRI Member

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    I think the mysterious CuNiFe magic adds a bit to it all, but WRHB´s are really great pickups. They are the perfect match for any bolt on-type guitar, especially thinline or semisolid guitars.
    As has been said before, the WRHB´s are constructed differently than Gibson type humbuckers, and the casing is larger. So much for outside facts.

    In my experience, they have a lot more clarity and have a higher frequency "sweet spot", compared to a PAF. Tone-wise, they lean more into Strat Single coils (minus the hum, of course), and have a nice high-mid breakup when pushed into overdrive/distortion. They can roar, too. Comparing WRHB´s to PAFs, I would say its Radiohead vs. Billy Gibbons. Both great, different turf.

    I guess the real tonal differences between CuNiFe and AlNiCo are marginal, since a lot of PU builders have coaxed convincing tones from AlNiCo WRHB´s. Telenator was for some years the only one offering some true CuNiFe replacements, but judging from their online tone samples their AlNiCos sounded almost the same. No idea if they´re still around.

    What sets the WRHBs apart really is the magnet pole pieces vs. a bar magnet on the bottom.

    I was lucky to find a reasonably priced vintage CuNiFe one some years ago, and it´s killer in a thinline tele. I have it in the neck position and a Lollar Regal at the bridge. The Lollar sounds very, very close and has slightly more output, but the Vintage Fender is still subtler in character.

    The Fender Reissues up until this year are made like PAFs inside, but they do sound surprisingly good IMHO, not worlds apart from the vntage original and also higher pitched than a Gibson PAF. They lack the ultimate definition, though. I believe Squier used the same WRHB.

    Other alternative replacements worth looking into would be The Creamery (they also offer their WRHB version in a PAF-sized casing) and Curtis Novak. I haven´t yet had a chance to check out the versions by Seymour Duncan, Lindy Fralin or Mojotone.

    Just yesterday I received the new Fender CuNiFe WRHB`s, cant´t wait to compare those to the vintage original.

    I hope, this has been helpful
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020 at 8:47 AM
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  7. loopfinding

    loopfinding TDPRI Member

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    I've had experience with a couple boutique sets and I just found them to be a very lame sounding pickup. I tried to love them. They weren't bad. Yes, definitely a humbucker with more of a single coil vibe. But at the end of the day to my ears they just sounded like "general guitar." I think there's a lot of hype because they're rare, and in the offset world because Sonic Youth used them. I much prefer firebird pickups for this vibe.
     
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  8. TimTam

    TimTam Tele-Holic

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    New Fender CuNiFe WRHBs ...
    Inductance .. Bridge 5.3H, Neck 4.2H
    DCR ... Bridge 11.2k - 11.8k, Neck 10.1K - 10.7K
    (unlike the originals, which were spec-ed the same for bridge and neck).
    https://shop.fender.com/en-US/parts/pickups-preamps/cunife-wide-range-humbucker/0992297001.html

    CuNiFe magnetics covered briefly along with Alnico (in more depth) in ch4 of Zollner's book ...
    https://www.gitec-forum-eng.de/the-book/
    And as noted by @Antigua Tele , there is a several-part series on the originals compared to several boutique options, which can be found by scrolling down to "Investigating the Fender “Wide Range” CuNiFe Humbucking Pickup, and some clones" here ...
    https://www.gitec-forum-eng.de/repository/

    Plus part 3 now too ...
    https://www.gitec-forum-eng.de/2020...e-humbucking-pickup-tests-and-audio-examples/
    Interestingly, the hearing tests used 500k pots for all comparisons, whereas the original WRHBs were installed by Fender with 1megs, and the conventional-HB reissues had 250k as installed by Fender. With the same pots and amplitude standardization, the heard differences were somewhat less than expected.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020 at 9:54 AM
  9. Fiesta Red

    Fiesta Red Poster Extraordinaire

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    Dang it!
    I thought I’d eventually find that one guitar or effect or amp that would finally make me proficient...

    You’ve dashed all my hopes...:oops::(:cry:
     
  10. Terrygh1949

    Terrygh1949 TDPRI Member

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    I have a custom Tele with one and, it is a change and, a different sound than a regular Tele. Very full and, the mix with the single coil sounds pretty darn good. Different that's why I bought it. The volume and, tone controls really work great in that setup too.
     
  11. Vermoulian

    Vermoulian Tele-Meister

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    They may be closer to standard humbuckers in some ways, but there must be something different about them. I’ve got a MIM Tele Deluxe reissue and I don’t know how it compares to an original with the CuNiFe WRHBs, but it definitely sounds different than a Gibson, and I’d say the difference is what people here have described for “real” WRHBs: less midrangy thickness, more articulate.
     
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  12. Vermoulian

    Vermoulian Tele-Meister

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    In my experience, opining on instruments and gear one has never played is the national pastime of guitar forums. :p
     
  13. Dacious

    Dacious Poster Extraordinaire

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    It isn't only the magnets - the bobbins are basically Teie bridge items. Bigger than PAFs and wound to around 5.5k apiece.

    The spacing means they humbuck but also the lower strength magnets and bigger winding pack but bigger bobbins produces a fuller sound with more treble and bass, with more output than singles matching PAFs

    The biggest problem is the originals aren't potted so tend to squeal. I recently potted my friend's unit in the Custom replica I built him. He's a monster guitarist and loves this.

    IMG_20200628_100333.jpg
     
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  14. kjatexas

    kjatexas TDPRI Member

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    I have a Tele with a WRH in the neck, made by Telenator. It was made to the exact specs of the original Fender WRH. Unfortunately they are no longer in business, because they could not source the CuNiFe magnets anymore. Fender, has obviously found a source, and has recently come out with a WRH using the CuNiFe magnets. I have not heard anything else about these pickups as to whether they are to original specs. Creamery and the others use Alnico magnets.
    The Telenator that I have is a great pickup. But they recommended that it be used with 1 meg pots to get the best/original tone. I had them install those pots and a 4 way switch. . I don’t know what pots Fender is using but would guess 500K.

    BlackTele.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020 at 12:31 PM
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  15. kLyon

    kLyon Tele-Holic Gold Supporter

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    I always liked them. And still do... but I remember that when they first came out, most players I knew thought of them as not as good as Gibson humbuckers, Fender putting out an inferior me-too product. (Southern rockers, most of them... this was an opinion I never shared, as stated...))
     
  16. kjatexas

    kjatexas TDPRI Member

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    Telenator is no longer in business. Would love to hear the new Fender WRHBs and how they compare.
     
  17. loopfinding

    loopfinding TDPRI Member

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    well i mean, a humbucker is always going to sound brighter on a 25.5" scale neck. i think all they did in recent years was lower turns and use 1 meg pots. or maybe change the mags to alnico.

    they are constructed exactly like a humbucker.
     
  18. Antigua Tele

    Antigua Tele Friend of Leo's

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    The coils being farther apart will effect the sound. The Strat "notch" tone, for example, could be thought of as a humbucker whose coils are very far apart. You'd really have to go out of your way to do a genuine A/B comparison between a WRHB and a PAF clone.
     
  19. Spox

    Spox TDPRI Member

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    "Other alternative replacements worth looking into would be The Creamery (they also offer their WRHB version in a PAF-sized casing)"

    I have a set of the Creamery Baby Wides, the PAF sized ones and really like them. I have them fitted in a partscaster, a Squier Pro Tone body with a mismatched Squier Pro Tone neck and it's been almost the only guitar I've played for the last six months. I got it back after a neck swap literally just prior to lockdown and bonded with it, was sitting playing it whilst reading this thread.

    Re the Baby Wides, they're not cheap but you get what you pay for. At first I really got into the two of them together with both on full humbucker, I had them built four wire to split via pots, I'd experiment with middle position and one split. I play through a tweaked Blues Junior clone and the bridge pickup on full humbucker breaks the amp up beautifully, it really does have its own voice and I thought it sounded similar to a really good overdriven P90 than humbucker or somewhere between the two. If I ever get the chance I'll A/B them against a set of originals.

    27th February 2018, James H Cadden 1w.jpg 27th February 2018, James H Cadden 2w.jpg
     
  20. charlie chitlin

    charlie chitlin Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    They actually sound great.
    Kinda has DeArmond Dynasonic tones in a humbucker.
    I have one in a '74 Tele Custom and it really did floor me.
    Especially in the middle position.
    I only found out about the hype after I fell in love with it.
    That's my story and I'm stickin' with it :p
    They are, unfortunately, fetish-ized on guitar bulletin boards AND, unlike the vast majority of other such things that achieve mythical status, there is no pantheon-level player associated with them.
    I'm pretty sure only guitar bulletin board nerds worship them.
    I mean...I guess it's possible we're onto something, but we usually decide what we like based on what the big kids like.
     
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