Fender Jaguar with Novak pick ups

I thought I'd do this story more about the pickups and the pictures than the process of assembling the guitar and fitting the pickups as I've been through that many times before. This guitar came in in pieces and needed full assembly and since it wasn't all original, the owner thought he might try something .......... different.


   

 


So the basics of this pick up is that they replicate the old Silvertone/Harmony style "foil"pick ups from the 50's and 60's. You all know the ones. They were in cheaper US production guitars and were fitted to both solid and hollow body guitars and basses. They have a cheap and easy construction method that like other cheap products of the time (Danelectro springs to mind) just works so well.

For this reason there are custom pick up builders now making their own versions of them. I must say, I do love these pick ups in their original form and was keen to get these in and try them out.


  


The pick ups are designed and made to go into an Offset guitar without any modifications and sit between the scratchplate and strings. The originals were the same with a very shallow height but these are considerably bigger overall than the originals.  I guess they're made to look more like the size and shape of a Jazzmaster pick up.

They have vintage style cloth covered wire and the construction is very nice. The chrome covers were a little bit too much for me, looks wise but that's purely cosmetic and the customers choice.

The guitar went together well and feels pretty nice except for the most V shaped neck I've EVER felt on a Jaguar neck, EVER. It sounds good acoustically and has nice sustain and little buzzing. So it's probably a nice platform to test these pick ups on as I've never heard foils on a Jag before so my opinions are based on one guitar only ....... this one.


   


The thing I do like about the original foils is the frequency response. They have a very "hi fi" sound to them. They are low output, therefor broad freq response (generally speaking) and have a real shimmer to them that I like in my Jazzmasters when I can get it.

These performed well with that real hi fi sound that is very reminiscent of those originals however these had less bottom end than I would have thought. This could be due to the 1M pots but I've tried the original foils in many guitars (right Tone) and they usually have a little more bass ? It could be the guitar too, having not played it before doing this mod. Like I say, not having tried originals in a Jaguar before I can't really comment how these would differ but the similarities are definitely there.

They have good output (for a low output pick up) and after I balanced the two better by shimming the bridge pick up closer to the strings, they balanced well. This was the only area where the "no mods" came into play. There was NO WAY those pickups would fit under those strings without shimming the neck which meant we now had an angle so the bridge one NEEDED to be higher. It's not a big deal as I shim most offsets to get tension down on the bridge anyway.


   

 


  

So all in all I would say this was a pretty successful experiment. It's a nice old Jaguar that lives to fight another day. It has some aftermarket pick ups that sound good, different and we didn't have to cut into the body and/or scratchplate to fit and I've found a pretty close approximation to the old foil pickups which are now becoming harder and more expensive to find.

Back to the owner for some playing.


 

Aug 07 2013 Written By: Tim Brennan