Identifying and understanding the pickups on your Fender guitar can be difficult. The pickup specifications have changed over time. Record-keeping wasn't always done properly in regard to what pickups went onto what guitar. For those reasons, it can be a little tricky to pinpoint the pickups on a particular vintage Fender guitar. There are methods that are easier to understand, though.
Identification by Year
One of the simplest ways to identify pickups in a Fender guitar is to look it up in charts based on the year of the guitar. Of course, there are a couple of issues involved with this method. First, you need to be able to identify the year of the guitar. That could be problematic, particularly if you weren't the original purchaser. Secondly, in the case of a second-hand guitar, it's possible the pickups have been replaced.
Identification by Model
Just as you can find charts based on the year of your Fender guitar, you can also find charts based on the model of your Fender guitar. With this type of chart, it's a lot easier to be sure what model you have than it is to be sure about the year of your Fender guitar. You still run into the problem that the pickups might not be original on your instrument if you bought it used.
Another option is to visually inspect the pickup. You will need to remove the pick guard on the guitar to do that. Once you have, take a look at the actual pickup. It might even be stamped with the manufacturer's name. If you don't see any markings right away, try to access the underside of the pickup. You could find a manufacturer's name and model number included on the pickup. This not only will help you identify the pickup, but also will tell if it's an original.
If you have an ohm meter, you can use that to help you identify your pickups. There are charts based on model or year that give the ohm ratings of the stock pickups used. Once you've got the pick guard off to inspect your pickups, you can hook up your ohm meter and measure to get the specifications. While there was some variance in terms of specifications, the stock pickups will come a lot closer to "right on the money" than will aftermarket versions.
Ask a Professional
Another option is taking your guitar to a professional. If you go to a Fender dealer that has a repair shop, an employee can probably identify your pickups in a hurry. There's a good chance the shop will do it for free, too. The logic is that if the shop helps you with your identification, you'll go there when you need strings, accessories or even another guitar. It's good business.
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