NAMM 2023: Fender's Cunife Wide Range humbuckers had a big comeback with Fender's American Vintage II range – and in our AV II Tele Deluxe review we were frankly dazzled by them. So imagine our delight now we can share the news that Cunife pickups are going to be available in standard Strat and Jazzmaster sets. Plus there's a brand new Cobalt Chrome set for Teles.
And if that wasn't enough to get our guitar modding sensors tickled, Fender is also releasing its lovely Player Plus necks to buy separately.
The new Cunife pickups are the first time the magnets have been used outside of Wide Range humbuckers, themselves only returning in recent years thanks to Fender securing a factory to produced the 1979 designs. This accounts for the higher price point but based on what we heard from the latest Wide Range examples, it's worth it for those looking for something genuinely different – and very good.
The Cunife Stratocaster Pickup Set ($349.99 USD, £319.00 GBP, €379.00 EUR, $599.00 AUD, ¥58,850JPY) is arguably Fender's boldest single-coil design since the Noiseless pickup. Fender claims they have a vintage -style voice with "deep piano-like lows, present and pleasing midrange, and sweet and sparkling highs that will invigorate your guitar playing with new life and bold dynamics."
Like the Wide Range humbuckers, these use Cunife threaded magnets with their calling cards of definition and clarity. The proposition in a single-coil Strat format has us excited and we're a little surprised we're not seeing any stock Strat models loaded with them to coincide.
The pickups' chrome-ringed covers acts as a shield to help eliminate the dreaded 60-cycle hum.
A new Tele set does not use Cunife but another new innovation to the table with Cobalt Chrome. Voiced by Fender's pickup master Tim Shaw, these pickups use Fender's blend of a FeCrCo magnet to bring "added snap" to your Tele tone. Again, chrome rings are use to help address hum.
The Cobalt Chrome Telecaster Pickup Set is $199.99 USD, £279 GBP, €329 EUR, $539 AUD, ¥41,800JPY.
For the Jazzmaster owners Fender is going bigger with two set options – recognising that its offset model is being embraced by another new generation, while still beloved by established guitar tinkerers.
There's a Cunife Wide Range set and one with a Cunife / Cobalt combo. Both will fit a standard Jazzmaster with no modifications to body of scratchplate required.
"The Wide Range Cunife Jazzmaster pickups deliver rich bell-likehumbucking tones with full bass and clear treble," says Fender. And from our experiences with Tele models, we can concur.
The Cunife Wide Range Jazzmaster Pickups ($399.99 USD, £369 GBP, €439 EUR, $739 AUD,¥58,850 JPY for a set) are also available individually.
The Cunife / Cobalt Chrome Jazzmaster Pickup Set ($299.99 USD, £279.00 GBP, €329.00 EUR, $539.00AUD, ¥41,800 JPY) mixes the Wide Range experience with an edgier bring Cobalt pickup. The best of both worlds?
Player Plus replacement necks for Strat and Tele ($349.99 USD, £339.00 GBP, €399.00 EUR, $779.00 AUD, ¥39,600 JPY) represent the highest spec aftermarket option that is currently produced by the Ensenada factory in Mexico.
These maple Player Plus necks feature rolled fingerboard edges and satin urethane backs for tactile comfort, with a 'Modern C' shape. And if you;re looking for vintage spec these are probably not going to float your tremolo as they're 12” radius with 22 medium jumbo frets.
The nuts on these necks pre-slotted with 'pilot' string location grooves to make spacing easier for filing yourself, or taking to a pro for the final fitting.
With all these new parts to fit you'll need something to work on and Fender has though of that too with its Work Mat ($69.99 USD, £66.99 GBP, €79.99 EUR, $110.00 AUD, ¥8,300 JPY) available in tweed and amp grill cloth with a neoprene pad and textured anti-slip bottom grip.
A neck cradle is also included for elevating your guitar while working.
All these products are availble in Spring 2023 and for more info visit Fender.com