Got an interesting email from Curtis Novak

Discussion in 'The Pickup Place' started by dbirchett, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. dbirchett

    dbirchett Gretschie

    Age:
    68
    295
    Feb 11, 2009
    Arizona
    Curtis Novak is making his version of the Fender Wide Range Humbuckers that were designed for Fender by Seth Lover. These pickups are brighter than the traditional humbuckers and featured threaded CuNiFe (Copper-Nickel-Iron) magnets instead of the typical screws/slugs. CuNiFe magnets are basically unavailable these days so I emailed Curtis to ask him what magnets he used and got an interesting reply. This is what he said:

    Hi Don, I use threaded rod magnets the the alloy I use is FeCrCo. The thing is an old pal of mine who was an engineer at Gibson, and was pals with Seth said that Fender had contracted with Seth to design a humbucker, that would compete with Gibson's but still sound like Fender's sound. Their whole goal was to have a humbucker, with adjustable pole pieces that still sounded like a Fender pickup with AlNiCo magnets. They choose CuNiFe, NOT b/c it had any mystical sonic properties, but rather b/c it sounded closest to AlNiCo AND could be machined into a screw. In my former life I spent 16 years working at one of our National Laboratories, and was pals and worked with a number world renowned metallurgists, and physicists. They all confirmed that in a sensor such as a guitar pickup, there is NO special sonic characteristic that the alloy CuniFe would have over AlNiCo, or FeCrCo other than their grade strength, and their orientation to the coil. All 3 alloys being equal in strength, shape and orientation to the coil would give the same sonic results. Outside of factual data there is much hype that starts putting this pickup in the same category as the Loch Ness Monster, and Bigfoot designed to create an artificial fervor and demand for it and to attempt justify an astronomical price. In my personal experience working both in high level research science and my many years with pickups, I have seen when people get way too wrapped up in their data, assumptions, goals, desires, and their egos. In the end they are only researching and accepting results that confirm their desires. They tend to lose focus and get way off track of their original goal and with pickups they start listening with their eyes, and stop using their ears.

    Glad you like them. Curtis

    Maybe some will find this interesting.
     
  2. firebomber

    firebomber Electromatic

    92
    Oct 24, 2017
    California
    I've never had the opportunity to use any of Curtis Novak's pickups, but he always seems like a level-headed and nice person who does away with lots of "myths" about pickups. I never used his products but I always have this sense of respect for him. Maybe I should get something from his shop soon? Haha.
     
  3. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Sorry Vista
    Admin Post
    He said a lot. Believe none of what you hear and half of what you see. :)
     
    firebomber likes this.
  4. Sid Nitzerglobin

    Sid Nitzerglobin Country Gent

    Jun 8, 2015
    fROMOHIO
    DISCLAIMER: The below is entirely my subjective feedback based on a statistically insignificant sample set in varied and uncontrolled testing w/ no empirical data collected aside from DCR readings off my consumer grade multitester ;):D

    Curt's WRHBs are quite great IMO and have produced some of my personal favorite sounds but, while possessing many of the same subjectively positive characteristics, have sounded pretty significantly different than the '70s Fender produced ones in the few guitars I've tried both in. The Novaks seem fairly significantly tighter and a bit brighter and more compressed. I suspect a lot of that comes down to the Novaks I've sampled reading 1.5-2.K higher DCR (my tester doesn't want to give me stable inductance readings so I'm not sure how they match up there) and noticeably higher ouput.

    They nail the somewhat strat-ty quack quality and the hair on the high strings though and in many cases work "better" than the originals IMO, particularly for more aggressive sounds. I'd still take the originals I've been exposed to for jazz-ier and/or blues-ier, looser sounds but they wind up costing a fair chunk of change more unless you manage to find a really great deal. I don't think I could ever bring myself to buy the CuNiFe Telenators for what they were charging even if the pole piece composition did make a difference, especially when you can get the real deal for less w/o too much of a hunt.
     
    Ricochet likes this.
  5. wildeman

    wildeman Gretschified

    May 10, 2015
    norcal
    Wow, never been too drunk to read before:confused::D
     
  6. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Sorry Vista
    Admin Post
    First time for everything.
     
  7. Ricochet

    Ricochet Gretschified

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    LOL. Back when the Wide-range humbucker was developed in the early '70s, Alnico had nowhere near if at all, the significance as it has now. Replacement pickups didn't exist back then and awareness and knowledge about pickup construction and workings hadn't entered the people's consciousness. That only started well into the '80s when a young Curtis got the idea to wind pickups. Good story though.
     
  8. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Sorry Vista
    Admin Post
    I'd say that by the late '70s, it was becoming known. The first set of DiMarzios I ever saw were a PAF (neck) and Super Distortion (bridge) set to replace Gibson HBs. It was well known that the PAF replica was Alnico and the Super Distortion used ceramic magnets.
     
  9. BorderRadio

    BorderRadio Country Gent

    Mar 6, 2014
    Phoenix, AZ
    +1
     
  10. Ricochet

    Ricochet Gretschified

    Nov 13, 2009
    Monkey Island
    Known without any significance I'd say, but I may remember thing differently
     
  11. Synchro

    Synchro The artist formerly known as: Synchro Staff Member

    Jun 2, 2008
    Sorry Vista
    Admin Post
    I recall asking at the time and being told that the ceramic pickup wouldn't be as mellow as the alnico. The incident I remember would have been in 1978 when a Les Paul with DiMarzios came through the store where I taught.
     
  12. RocknRollShakeUp

    RocknRollShakeUp Gretschie

    375
    Jun 20, 2017
    USA
    Anyone try those Novak Wide Range pickups in the jazz master pickup housing, in a jazzmaster?
     
  13. Sid Nitzerglobin

    Sid Nitzerglobin Country Gent

    Jun 8, 2015
    fROMOHIO
    I've put in couple of sets of them in customer's guitars (a JM and a Jag), they've sounded every bit a great to me as the WRHB size ones (or the standard HB size ones for that matter).
     
    RocknRollShakeUp and Ricochet like this.
  14. Frank_NH

    Frank_NH Synchromatic

    745
    Mar 25, 2013
    Lebanon, NH
    I have some Brandonwound WRHBs in my Telecaster Deluxe. They sound great, and to me are among the nicest humbuckers I have. They blend the note separation and twang of single coils (no doubt due the magnet pole pieces used in their construction) with the power and noise reduction of humbuckers. Now if only TV Jones would develop some WRHBs...:rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
     
  15. RocknRollShakeUp

    RocknRollShakeUp Gretschie

    375
    Jun 20, 2017
    USA
    Thank you so much for the feedback!

    Holy Kraft Chesus! I'm really needing to get a set for my Jazzmaster then!
     
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