Maxon WRHB rewind

I've rewound a few of these old Maxon WRHBs over the years and I do have pics of the other rewinds somewhere but this was the latest one I did for a Greco Tele Thinline that went to the shop recently.

These middle period Maxon WRHBs are, like the early ones (being standard HB size with staggered pole pieces in the cover) not really "proper" WRHBs, but unlike the earlier ones these are actually the right size and mounting as a real Fender one making the guitars they went into closer aesthetically to the original Fenders they were copying. 

The tone from these Maxon Wide Rangers is great. I actually really like these, and the early (Fujigen made) Fender Japan WRHBs a lot and while they're not really vintage Fender tone, they have a great tone all their own which due to the R&D Maxon obviously put into them, makes them a really strong contender for a replacement or alternative to an original. 

 

I've worked on (and own) plenty of original vintage Fender WRHBs and do love them but I honestly think the prices they are commanding now puts them out of the range of being accessible to the average player. The "magic" in the original is of course (not really)  the unique pole pieces used by Fender under Seth Lovers direction but also the inductance they have using plain #42 poly wire. The bigger bobbins need bigger covers so the WRHB was a physically bigger pickup than the Gibson alternative. The other, and probably more important difference to a Gibson HB is that they used magnetic poles instead of a bar magnet which is why these Maxons (and many other copies) are never "exactly" right tone wise, but that doesn't mean they're not great pickups.

 

With the original CuNiFe (copper/nickel/iron) alloy magnets being the sticking point to making copies, Maxon went about designing a more accessible version while trying to get the tone as close as possible. To me, they achieved this much more closely than the US/Mex re-issues years later. As I've said, I like these Maxon WRHBs.

These 2nd version Maxon WRHB appeared in late '75 and replaced the standard size "WRHB" in all the Matsumoku and Fujigen made Fender copies that carried them. On first inspection these look pretty close to an original from both top and bottom except of course, no Fender logo stamped into the cover. Greco would quickly start stamping "Greco" into the covers and then of course Fujigen would stamp "Fender" into them when they started producing for Fender Japan. 

With the threaded pole pieces protruding through the base plate like an original it's not hard to think these could actually be threaded magnets of some sort but, once you open the covers, there's the alnico bar magnet between the two rows of poles, just like a Gibson HB. 

 

But here's where Maxon went the extra bit to try and make these closer to an original than a std HB. The parts are all custom made for this pickup with bigger, different shaped bobbins and base plate. These use #44 wire with each coil measuring at over 6.5K. These bobbins combined with the A3 (I believe?) magnet and the wider spread of the pole pieces produces a more articulate, sharper sounding humbucker much like the originals. Despite using an A3 bar magnet and higher output, these Maxons have a nice clear top end and sound great clean but they also have a big round mid which makes them sound great with distortion or gain, again, much like the originals. They tend to be less "muddy" than a standard HB which fits in well with the original Wide Range. 

Anyway, I don't think there's any real details that need to be gone over as far as the rewind itself so I'll just put in a bunch of pics to look at. It's a pretty straight forward job, much like an original vintage unit.

 

You can see by the serial number this was early '76 which is confirmed by all the electronics and other pickup in the Greco Thinline. These Maxons also have the metal braided wire and 4 height adjusting screws just like an original. 

With the bobbin out and pole pieces removed I took the tape off and checked for a broken or lose end (common on old Maxons) but it needed to be stripped of wire and rewound. I cut the original wire off and marked the direction of the coil on the bobbin. 

On the winder and wound with just under 6000 turns of #44 plain enamel wire which gave me 6.8K almost perfectly matching the other coil it was to be mated up with. I reattached the original small lead wires and put new tape on the coil and reinstalled it back onto the base plate and re-soldered the cover back on. From the outside it's impossible to tell it's been rewound and in fact apart from the wire, the 20 cm of tape is the only non original part in there.  

Everything measured good and I tested that it was rewired properly and assembled it all back into the scratchplate and put the guitar back together. 

I actually forgot to take pics of the guitar back together but it was much like this one which came in after it, but it went to the shop and sold quickly so it's out there being used which is nice. For me, it's always nicer to repair a part of any vintage guitar rather than replace it. It's irrelevant to me what sort of guitar it is or how much it's worth. If it's 50 years old and all original, it's nicer to keep it original (I don't consider a rewind to really be taking away from originality although I always mention it when selling the guitar) even when standard parts will fit straight in. In the case of WRHBs there are some re-issues around that are the right size and "look" that don't cost a packet, but, it's still nicer to have that Maxon back in there.