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Why SD Pickups?
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Texas Style Strat Sets: SD Pickups, Custom Hand-Wound Pickups by Dave Stephens, Stephens Design

Stock factory Strat pickups are somewhat weak and shrill. Annoying, really. They need a pedal to push an amp to soloing levels. I wanted to make Strat pickups you could plug into a tube amp, then turn up the amp and get decent soloing power. I used to play Strats all the time and I still love them. I find it disconerting that every Strat player I see thinks they need a boost pedal to sound good. Of course this depends on your amp. Some more modern amps have plenty of gain, but so do the older amps that guys like Stevie played through. Johhny Guitar Watson played a Strat straight into an amp and made tone history when he was barely 20 in the early 50s. Not all my Strat sets are hot wound, the Mojo V, for example is underwound, the new Fifty Nine set is in the middle, its not about hot, its about tone and your personal rig.

Some of you will be annoyed by the TEXAS name on my Strat pickups. Just put that aside and listen to the sound clips. Texas brought us T-BoneWalker and SRV and a myriad of other players like Buddy Holley and maybe even you. Strat tone knows no barriers, hot winds, underwinds: it's all here. And if isn't I will wind it just for your music, your style, thats what it's all about for me, Texas or Alaska or France.


Let's start at the top: this is my newest set and is sure to delight Strat traditionalists. If you want major amounts of quack and chime, you have found the mother lode. This set is identical in all aspects, wire, Forbon fiber, magnets, winding pattern, traditional stagger, to what Fender made in 1959. For you Stevie Ray Vaughan followers, thats the set thats in his "Number One" guitar. I have studied and found out what made them tick, so now you don't have to pay $3000 for a set of vintage pickups off Ebay. The Fifty Nine's also have a fatness to them that modern Fender product are lacking, so these aren't shrill or annoyingly brite but there is a rich harmonic bright edge to them. I have changed one thing and have wound the bridge higher to try to tame some of its high frequencies typical of that position. Of course I can customize this set anyway you want and make a bridge pickup that isn't quite so bright if you prefer, though this one is "good" bright. This set is bell like, good strong output and just more Strat than Strat. Great in a maple neck guitar or to tame a darker rosewood fingerboard like Stevie's virtually unfinished beater that we all loved. Sound clips are on a Fender '57 reissue (which came with truly horrible Fender pickups in it) through my faithful Princeton, which has a Callaham block, maple board and ten gauge strings. Sound clips are on a five way switch. Licks start on the neck pickup. A tone separates each switch position:

Fifty Nine Strat set played clean-ish
Fifty Nine Strat set played cranked

NEW! OK, here's the obligatory Tube Screamer sound clips; I totally suck at SRV imitation and admit it, but this will give you an ear for what that pedal, a bright guitar like mine, with 11 gauge strings in this clip, and wimpy fingers can accompish. Notice that in my Princeton you can hear the treble highlights of this guitar with these pickups, so don't forget that guys like SRV used treble killing coil cords the same as Hendrix did if your rig wants to hear less higher range. These pickups on their own do not scream when you play. Listen carefully to Stevie's playing and tone and you will hear that he had to work for every note, for the talented players these will shine, for low volume bedroom players I wouldn't recommend them for hot stinging leads, these are not really hot pickups, they ooze with harmonic content, not overly pushy output. Sound clip switches through all positions:

Tube Screamer '59 samples, all switch positions.

Here is the fabulous Robbie Laws in two sound clips using the same guitar through a blackface Super Reverb, doing his Strat thang, a good demo through a clean-ish Super:

Robbie Laws Strat demo one
Robbie Laws Strat demo two


This is basically a very strong output set rivalling P90 output, but it's not a set you would listen to in a music store and maybe be immediately attracted to. They were designed for power ouput. Professional players like them for what they are. Some bedroom players may not like them for their darker nasal tone. They are a flush pole set but wound about as hot as I can possibly get them and still sound like a Strat. They are very good for use on a guitar that is dead sounding and too acoustically muddy. The bridge pickup sounds like a Tele, the middle is strong and has a great voice, the neck is strong and almost jazzy in nature.

Please see the reviews page for more on this, and the All Things Guitar Web site for full review of the Texas Twister set.

Click to hear Twisters in a G&L Legacy and 10 gauge strings, played through a Blues Junior with medium gain. A tone plays between switch positions, starting with the neck pickup.


The same American alnico, same stagger, only difference is a slight change in magnet wire. One customer swears these are dead-on to a '64 strat set he lost a long time ago; judge for yourself. These are a little more vintagey sounding than the stock Red House set, a little more refined, but turned up with some gain they scream. This sound clip is unedited, bear with it...

Fat Red House Strat clean and dirty





The Tall Texan set is a more recent addition to my Strat sets. I have combined a taller coil for traditional Strat brightness and bite (and quack), with non-traditional wire and winds to give you a loud super Strat tone that puts standard Strat pickups to shame. Magnets are flush pole for even string response. This is my most popular set.

Click to hear Tall Texan set played through a Blues Junior with medium gain.

Also read the current review of the Tall Texans on the All Things Guitar website, and discount offer for August.



The Mojo stock set is my best-selling Strat set. It always gets rave reviews and emails from happy customers. This is a very vintage sounding but powerful set wound to 1960's specs which were the hottest of the Fender vintage Strat pickups (favored by SRV). This is also a staggered set but staggered to modern string gauges, so there's no loss of B string because of a sunken magnet pole. These magnets are also fatter than modern and more like what Fender used back then. Typical classic Strat sound but full of life, quack and strong output.

SOUND CLIPS: These are 3 clips of the neck and middle pickup in my custom Tele (3 switch positions) with ten gauge strings. Neck plays first in the sound clips:

Mojos in somewhat clean Silverface Deluxe reverb
Mojos in dirty Silverface Deluxe reverb
Mojos in Blues Junior dirty

Here's an audio demonstration of the stock Mojo set done by Sean Kilback through a '67 Super Reverb. (Thanks Sean!):

Mojos in Super Reverb from Sean


This set has the same bobbin and magnets as the stock Mojo set but wound with vintage spec Formvar wire, which gives a big fat coil, but lower number of winds for a more true vintage tone, but with character of its own. Magnets are slightly degaussed to simulate the aging of vintage alnico. Jump blues guys LOVE this set. If that's YOU, listen to the sound clips, these nail that vintage tone to a "T."

Here is a sound clip of the Mojo V played through a gainy silverface Princeton, in a Squire Strat, with ten gauge strings.

Mojo "V" played clean
Mojo "V" played loud and dirty

Here's a great jump tune, "Doin Allright," featuring Karl Angerer on a vintage '59 maple neck Strat, playing with Lee McBee and the Confessors, through a pair of vintage Fender tweed amps. Most of the solo is on the middle pickup. File is 3.3 megs a bit of a download but worth the listen:
Doin' Allright-Karl Angerer

Please also visit the live sound clips/reviews page to hear Nick Curran of the Fabulous Thunderbirds play this guitar!


Want Woodstock tone? Jimi Hendirx's most famous guitar is associated with the year 1969, though he played alot of different year strats. 1969's CBS era pickups weren't much different than most of the early CBS years, the specs are all very close.

The Red House set is '69 specs but with a bridge boost to trim some highs. I can wind a "classic" version in real '69 specs if you can deal withi non-hum cancelling and pickups that are all very close in specs, your choice. The set is decidedly more modern than the 59 set, reminds me alot of Charlie Baty's tone with the NIght Cats.

So whats different about my version from everyobody else's? The biggest difference, besides my signature coil tones, is the alnico is made in America by the orginal supplier to Leo Fender in the 50's and 60s. All the big and small pickup makers these days use Chinese magnets, they are good but they aren't the same as US made product. As far as I know, I found the last American supplier actually making alnico in this country anymore. They are slowly losing most of their business to China and even now are forced to resell Chinese magnets just to compete. I also use plain enamel wire which is correct and use a simlulated winding pattern to match the crude winders CBS was using at that time. Here are sound clips in an American Standard Strat through my trusty Princeton:

Red House Strat clean
Red House Strat cranked

All my Strat pickups come with vintage cloth covered push back wire, are potted, and middle is reverse wound reverse polarity. Covers and mounting hardware included. Ask about color choice availability. Each set can be customized to taste. Just ask!


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