Fender Wide Range Humbucker info
Some confusion exists about this pickup, so here is some general information to clear the air.
There is a particular dual coil pickup available in certain guitar models from Fender and Squier called the Fender Wide Range Humbucker (WRHB for short,) of which there are bridge and neck versions for their respective positions when installed in the guitar.
Six guitar models have this pickup, all Telecasters (as it is a Telecaster-only thing):
- Fender Classic Series '72 Telecaster Custom
- Fender Classic Series '72 Telecaster Deluxe
- Fender Classic Series '72 Telecaster Thinline
- Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Custom
- Squier Vintage Modified Telecaster Deluxe
- Squier Vintage Modified '72 Telecaster Thinline
For these guitars, "custom" is solid-body with single + humbucker pickup configuration, "deluxe" is solid-body with two humbuckers, and "thinline" is a semi-hollow body construction with the "F" hole and two humbuckers.
I personally own the Squier VM '72 Thinline.
Quick history on the WRHB and where it stands now
The original WRHB pickup used CuNiFe (copper, nicker, iron) magnet pieces, and the end result was a dual coil pickup that basically sounded like a single-coil. Fender even used 1M potentiometers just like in the Jazzmaster and Jaguar to make them even brighter. As such, original WRHBs are sometimes referred to as having a "big single-coil" sound for this reason.
WRHB was not used much in Fender's lineup. It was a pickup that disappeared almost as fast as it was introduced.
Only one company in the world, Telenator, made reissues of the original WRHB using the CuNiFe magnet pieces, but they shut down. Why? Sourcing issues. Getting those CuNiFe magnet pieces is difficult and very costly. The pickup was also made for a very niche market, meaning you really had to know what a WRHB was all about and be willing to spend the big cash on it since it was such a boutique pickup.
The modern Fender-made WRHB is absolutely not the same as the original. Night and day difference. Different magnets are used with different pots, resulting in a totally different tone.
Those who are familiarized with the original '72 WRHB will not like the modern version because it won't sound like what they're used to. That doesn't make the modern pickup bad. It's just different.
What is the WRHB like these days?
To my ear, the modern WRHB sounds like a "vintage voiced" AlNiCo II humbucker - which is just fine, because high-output humbuckers are muddy garbage with very weak treble response.
Do I know for a fact that the modern WRHB uses AlNiCo II magnets? No, I don't. Nobody seems to know. There's a lot of talk about this pickup but no solid answers. This is why I say "to my ear," because regular high-output humbuckers are muddy messes while the WRHB is definitely not - which is to its benefit. It has a lower output, greater treble response and a nice midrange to it.
What did the multimeter say?
I measured the output of each pickup myself. The bridge side DCR (DC Resistance) measured 8.1K, and the neck side 7.8K.
What does this mean? It means the modern WRHB has a DCR consistent with most humbuckers that are "vintage voiced."
What are the main differences between the Fender and Squier Telecasters with the WRHBs in them?
The Fenders all have the '70s-specific 3-bolt neck joint with micro adjustment at the rear plate pointed tip, along with "bullet" truss rod cover, and '70s-specific "F" slotted tuners. Solid-body is made from alder, semi-hollow is made from ash.
The Squiers have a more traditional 4-bolt neck joint with no micro adjustment, normal truss rod adjustment, and oval slotted tuners. Solid-body is made from basswood, semi-hollow is made from ash.
On both Fender and Squier, Custom and Deluxe models use 4-knob controls with skirted amp knobs and an upper bout toggle switch, and Thinline uses a 2-knob control layout with blade selector.
On both Fender and Squier, Custom and Thinline use the traditional slab Telecaster body shape, while Deluxe has a contour cut in the rear like a Stratocaster.
What's the best version?
That I can't say because it depends on personal preference. But I'll tell you why I personally bought the Squier VM Thinline Tele.
The Squier Thinline ticks a lot of boxes for me. It has the oval slotted tuners (which are just as good as Fender versions,) the semi-hollow construction is lighter in weight which I like, and I prefer the simpler 2-knob + blade over the 4-knob + toggle of the other models.
In addition, there's no difference with neck finish from Squier to Fender for these particular models. All of them have necks finished in gloss urethane - which is period-correct for '72. Usually with Fender all-maple necks you get gloss on the front and satin urethane finishing on the back, but for these it's all gloss all around.
However, I will totally admit that visually, the Fender looks better. And it's all because of that bullet truss rod cover. That just looks cool - particularly on the Fender Deluxe model shown at top. That's the kind of thing that brings a smile to your face when you see it. No, it doesn't enhance playability whatsoever. It's just cool.
In the end, whether you get a Fender or Squier in solid or semi-hollow form with the WRHB pickups, what you're getting is a guitar with familiar Fender feel along with vintage voicing. If you have a guitar now with humbuckers where the tone is too hot and muddy to be usable, getting one of the Telecasters listed above will make you a happy dude.
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