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An Evening With Two Of The Fender® Custom Shop David Gilmour Signature Series Strat's
- The Relic and the NOS -

Technical information & specifications of both the Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Relic & NOS pickguard assembly electronics in comparison with our complete Black Strat® pickguard assembly electronics.

Revised: January 23, 2015

The Two Reference Guitars Used For Testing & Comparisons

Fender® Custom Shop
David Gilmour Signature Series Black Strat's
Black Strat® #1    
Version / Model: Relic  
Production Date: October 1, 2008  
Serial Number: R43867  

Black Strat® #2    
Version / Model: NOS  
Production Date: September 30, 2008  
Serial Number: R43281  

Most of you are here because of your interest in the Gilmour Black Strat® and our version of the fully loaded complete Black Strat® pickguard assembly.  I'm sure many of you wonder as to the authenticity or similarity of our pickguard assembly is in comparison to the two Fender® Custom Shop versions.  In other words, will our complete pickguard assembly produce the same tones as a Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Black Strat?  Bottom line, absolutely...  Below you will find individual pickup resistance value readings taken from two of the Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Signature Series Black Strat's, the Relic and the NOS version. Pickup DC resistance values were taken from both of these guitar pickguard assemblies at each of the 7 unique pickup selections. Physical characteristics of each pickup were noted as well for comparison.

There is a some speculation as to exactly which pickups are installed in the Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Strat, but now, based on our research along with all published data it is now quite conclusive as we have shown below that the pickups installed in the Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Strat® are in fact the same pickups or have the same characteristics or tonal character as those we use in our complete pickguard assemblies. 

As the specifications were published at the introduction of the Gilmour Strat® it was stated that a custom hand-wound Fat '50s neck pickup was installed in the neck position and a Custom Shop '69 pickup was installed in the middle position, but later on it was noticed that specifications became a little more vague and were updated in most advertisements as to the exactness of which pickups were installed. It is now stated that the pickup installed in the neck position is a "Custom Hand-Wound Fat '50s" pickup and the middle pickup is simply stated as "Custom Wound". The bridge pickup is no mystery, it is published as a Seymour Duncan SSL-5. However, this particular SSL-5 pickup in the Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Strat® is built around the architecture of the SSL-1C with it being constructed using a keyed black bottom flatwork as opposed to the modern rectangular and rounded end bottom flatwork that you will find in all retail SSL-5's. One of the reasons Seymour Duncan manufactures the current retail version of the SSL-5 with rectangular and rounded end bottom flatwork is that it allows the pickup to mounted in either direction for appropriate pole piece stagger positioning for left or right handed players. The SSL-1C is what is installed in Gilmour's Strat® and Fender® wanted the visual effect to be correct and is strictly a right handed pickup with the keyed bottom flatwork. Our SSL-1C DG is a custom hand scatter-wound version of the SSL-1 ("C" means custom) which has increased output and is the predecessor to the SSL-5. Identification markings on the Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Strat® SSL-5 bridge pickup has both identifiers where it says "SSL-1C DG" pressed into the pickups bottom flatwork along with a sticker tag that reads "SSL-5". All resistance readings we've performed confirm it is a SSL-5 at heart with the typical beveled and staggered Alnico V pole pieces. UPDATE January 17, 2012 We now have a supply of these SSL-1C DG pickups available for installation in our complete pickguard assemblies. Full Details Here.

Exclusive to OverDrive Custom Guitar Works, we now have an improved SSL-1C DG pickup which is Rw/Rp (Reverse Wound/Reverse Polarity) in relation to the two Fender® pickups that will provide hum cancelling capabilities when the bridge and middle pickups are selected together and when the bridge and neck pickups are selected together via the activation of the recessed mini-toggle switch. This is a characteristic that neither Gilmour's original Black Strat® or Fender's Custom Shop Black Strat's have. But it is definitely an improvement without sacrificing anything tonally. This Rw/Rp version is the exact same pickup as the SSL-1C DG but with reverse polarity on the pole pieces. It is already wound in reverse since that is how Seymour Duncan winds all their single coil pickups normally, so when installed in conjunction with two Fender® pickups it is not required to reverse the leads on this pickup, all pickups black wires will then get connected to ground and the white wires to the 5-way selector switch. We will offer both versions of the SSL-1C DG pickup for a limited time.

The middle pickup in the Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Strat® has non-beveled, staggered Alnico V pole pieces and the typical dark enameled wire windings indicative of a Custom Shop '69 pickup and all resistance and tone comparisons indicate the same as well.  It is built using a black bottom flatwork piece instead of the typical grey flatwork you will find in a retail package of the Custom Shop '69 pickup set. You won't find a black bottom flatwork Custom Shop '69 in any retail packaging, it only comes with Custom Shop guitars. There is no difference between the middle pickup in a Fender® Gilmour Strat® and a Custom Shop '69 pickup with the exception of the color of the flatwork.

The neck pickup in the Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Strat® has hand beveled, staggered Alnico V pole pieces and the typical bright Formvar wire windings indicative of a Custom Shop Fat '50s pickup and all resistance and tone comparisons indicate the same as well. The differences are that the Custom Shop version is said to be custom hand wound as opposed to the production Fat '50s that are machine wound. However they are wound to the same target DC resistance value.

Below are pickup resistance value comparison between the two Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Strat's and our custom Black Strat® pickguard assembly.  Based on all test results and audio comparison the pickups are essentially the same.  We averaged 25 of our Black Strat® complete pickguard assemblies to arrive at the figures in the "Our Black Strat® Pickguard Assembly" column below. The resistance readings for Fender's was taken from a Relic version and NOS version of the Custom Shop Gilmour Black Strat.  By looking at the table towards the very bottom of this page you can get an idea of how much variance you will find in a given pickup type. Example: You can see that a given Seymour Duncan SSL-5 can reveal a resistance reading of up to 13.65k and as low as 12.61k which gives a variance as much as 1040 ohms (1.04k) between different samples of the same pickup. Seymour Duncan advertises the SSL-5 to have resistance value of 12.9k. So just because our resistance readings may not compare exactly the same as Fender's, which would be virtually impossible, you can see how they are extremely close with the averages are that we have compiled.  If we were able to average 25 of the Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Strat's pickup readings we might find those averages become even closer to our averages, but since we only have two of the Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Strat's to perform our comparisons we cannot compile averages and have to rely on direct readings, so we have to make due with a single reference point of the data presented with the two guitars and use those for our base points of reference.

With the NOS Strat® all of the accessories, pickup covers, knobs, switch tip, tremolo arm tip and tremolo cover plate are a custom aged parchment.  The tint color is an ever so slightly tinted from the base color of parchment, almost like a very slight smoky color added to the base color. It is very subtle but noticeable when you compare a stock parchment pickup cover along side one of the custom aged ones.

With the RELIC Strat® the pickup covers are relic'd and aged parchment. Where the knobs are relic'd aged white with the green letters and numbers.  The tremolo arm tip and switch tip are both aged white.

One difference we found between the Relic and NOS was in the wiring where the NOS did not have the ground wire joining each of the three potentiometers.  I think the guy doing the wiring simply forgot, since this is a characteristic ground of all Strat® wiring.

We hope with all this information it will help you make an informed decision and understand the detail we put forth to make sure you receive a complete Gilmour style Black Strat® pickguard assembly that will undoubtedly reproduce the Gilmour tone you are in search of...

Above: Close-up photograph of the Fender® Custom Shop David Gilmour Relic Black Strat® pickguard assembly electronics wiring.

Above: Close-up photograph of our complete Black Strat® pickguard assembly electronics wiring with our Black 1 Ply 0.120" Acrylic Rounded and Polished Edge Pickguard with the Seymour Duncan SSL-1C DG bridge pickup installed.

Above: Photograph of the Fender® Custom Shop David Gilmour Relic Black Strat® pickguard assembly back side.

Notice the copper foil shielding on the pickguard in the control region only.  All current production of our Acrylic pickguards have the exact same copper foil shielding in the control region only. A lot of customer feedback has told us that they want their pickguards shielded in the same manor as Gilmour's as well as how Fender® is shielding their Gilmour Signature series Black Strat's pickguards.  We listened to our customers feedback and have adjusted our manufacturing of these pickguards to represent them authentically to the original and the Fender® Custom Shop's.

Above: Close-up photograph of the Fender® Custom Shop bridge pickup. Notice the "SSL-1C DG" as pressed into the bottom flatwork and the sticker that indicates an SSL-5 with a production date of August 22, 2008 ( "20080822" ).

The Fender® Custom Shop David Gilmour Relic Black Strat's Green Lettered / Numbered control knobs in comparison with our customized knobs. Our knobs are in the upper portion where they are simply resting on the pickguard for comparison with Fender's knobs.  We've identified the green lettering color and have been able to reproduce it exactly as you would find them on a Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Black Strat.

Pickup Comparison Chart
Resistance Readings Taken Directly From The Output Jack Connections
 
Pickup Selection(s) Fender's Original
David Gilmour Relic Strat
Fender's Original
David Gilmour NOS Strat
Our Black Strat® Pickguard Assembly
Avg. of 25 Assemblies
SSL-1C DG (Bridge) 12.57k 13.28k 12.39k
SSL-1C DG Rw/Rp (Bridge) N/A N/A 12.75k
SSL-5 (Bridge, Retail Version) N/A N/A 12.89k
Custom Shop '69 (Middle) 5.24k 5.32k 5.44k
Custom Shop Fat '50s (Neck) 6.14k 6.12k 6.15k
Combination Pickup Selections (SSL-5, Custom '69 and Fat '50)
Bridge + Middle 3.77k 3.85k 3.89k
Neck + Middle 2.87k 2.88k 2.92k
Bridge + Neck 4.21k 4.25k 4.24k
Bridge + Middle + Neck 2.36k 2.39k 2.41k

All Information Below Was Obtained From Our Complete Black Strat® Pickguard Assemblies

SSL-5, Custom '69 and Fat '50 pickup testing results in the table below were obtained from February to May 2010.

SSL-1C DG (Original) pickup testing results in the table below were obtained from January to April 2012.

SSL-1C DG Rw/Rp pickup testing results in the table below were obtained from January to July 2013.

Below are resistance readings taken from each of the 7 unique pickup selection options from the documented testing results of 25 of our Black Strat® fully loaded pickguard assemblies.  Averages for each pickup selection is listed in Blue at the bottom. We also have listed the highest resistance reading we encountered in Red, the lowest resistance reading in Green and the amount of variance of resistance between the highest and lowest readings in White.  We also list the manufacturer's resistance rating for each of the three different pickups.

The resistance values in the table below were obtained at the output jack connections with the volume and tone control settings at 10, so these values will be slightly lower than resistance values taken directly from an individual uninstalled pickup.  I did not want to disassemble the original Custom Shop Gilmour Strat® electronics to obtain direct resistance readings from each individual pickup, so I figured it was most appropriate to compare our complete pickguard assemblies with the Custom Shop Gilmour Strat® by the same method at the output jack connections.  This would give you comparatively similar results.  Also, keep in mind that you could take a box of 250k Ohm potentiometers and check each of their resistance characteristics and find that they may vary as much as 100k from one another since most potentiometers have a tolerance of 20% and this variance will alter the resistance readings obtained from the output jack connections for the pickups.  I've seen a lot of the Fender® branded CTS potentiometers vary as much 25% where as the CTS potentiometers I use in my assemblies average about 10% variance from specification. I find the average resistance readings of the CTS potentiometers I use to be in the range of 225k to 265k Ohms which is much better than a large number of the Fender® branded CTS potentiometers where I've seen some samples as low as 180k and as high as 290k Ohms.  But for the most part when it comes to deviation from the specified rating (tolerance) I usually find the actual resistance value is lower than the specification rating rather than being higher...

Another factor that contributes to variations in a pickups DC resistance reading is temperature.  This is probably something that is most often overlooked, and most would not even consider. We can pull a pickup off the shelf in the winter where the warehouse might be as cold as 30-40 degrees F. and that pickup could present us with a DC resistance that may be as much as 400-500 ohms lower than the same pickup that has thoroughly warmed up and once again tested at room temperature.  You can actually watch the ohm meters digital display that is connected to a pickup that is cold and as it slowly warms up its DC resistance climbs higher and higher.  So with temperature differences factoring in, there really isn't a true DC resistance, only close approximations to the manufacturers specified rating. It's all relative to the testing environment/pickup temperature.  And of course for obvious reasons they will also vary simply because any given sample of pickup may be wound slightly more or less than the next sample...

All resistance values below are in Kilo-Ohms (x 1000) unless otherwise noted.  Keep in mind that our tested DC resistance values for each pickup were taken at the output jack connections so there is some attenuation of the resistance readings. A resistance reading taken directly from an uninstalled pickup at its two lead wires would present a higher DC resistance.

Test # Seymour Duncan
Custom Hand Scatter-Wound
SSL-1C DG Rw/Rp
Bridge Position
Seymour Duncan
Custom Hand Scatter-Wound
SSL-1C DG (Original)
Bridge Position
Seymour Duncan
Custom Staggered
SSL-5
Bridge Position
Fender® Custom Shop
Custom '69
Middle Position
Fender® Custom Shop
Fat '50s
Neck Position
1 13.13 12.45 12.88 5.270 6.220
2 12.68 12.35 12.97 5.434 6.090
3 12.55 12.44 12.70 5.224 6.213
4 12.93 12.21 12.88 5.476 6.059
5 12.99 12.34 12.78 5.435 6.224
6 12.56 12.40 12.82 5.477 6.167
7 12.56 12.29 12.65 5.550 6.110
8 13.12 12.12 12.92 5.555 6.283
9 12.55 12.43 12.88 5.607 6.173
10 12.56 12.44 12.78 5.579 6.298
11 12.74 12.52 12.91 5.278 6.168
12 12.71 12.39 12.80 5.248 6.073
13 12.46 12.41 12.69 5.415 6.108
14 12.85 12.61 12.92 5.176 6.328
15 12.91 12.33 12.73 5.508 6.092
16 12.65 12.33 12.82 5.400 6.075
17 12.66 12.45 12.94 5.436 6.186
18 12.93 12.37 12.61 5.307 6.066
19 12.79 12.51 13.14 5.408 6.259
20 12.63 12.36 12.65 5.339 6.059
21 12.96 12.50 13.18 5.601 6.127
22 12.45 12.36 12.87 5.584 6.085
23 12.73 12.51 13.65 5.645 6.136
24 12.86 12.37 13.05 5.627 6.103
25 12.90 12.33 13.01 5.542 6.158

  12.75k Avg. 12.39k Avg. 12.89k Avg. 5.44k Avg. 6.15k Avg.
  12.45k Low 12.12k Low 12.61k Low 5.224k Low 6.059k Low
  13.13k High 12.61k High 13.65k High 5.645k High 6.328k High
  680 Ohm Variance 490 Ohm Variance 1040 Ohm Variance 421 Ohm Variance 269 Ohm Variance
      322.23 Tot. 136.121 Tot. 153.86 Tot.
  Manuf. Rating: 12.9k Manuf. Rating: 12.9k Manuf. Rating: 12.9k Manuf. Rating: 5.8k Manuf. Rating: 6.0k
Last 1466
First SSl-1C DG 3345  - 3709

309.82k total

January 24, 2015

The following has nothing to do with electronics comparison, just a visual observation of the detail of the Relic Strat.

Today I was taking a closer look at my Fender Custom Shop Relic Gilmour Black Strat® and I had always perceived the two modifications/repairs that Gilmour had performed with his original Black Strat® for the Kahler tremolo bridge installation/body routing and the XLR jack modifications were reproduced accurately in the Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Relic Black Strat.  But apparently I had not inspected these characteristics closely...

With the Kahler tremolo bridge installation on Gilmour's original Black Strat® there was a section of wood behind the bridge that had to be routed out to accommodate this new bridge assembly.  But the Kahler tremolo bridge was not to David's liking so after a short period of time it was removed and replaced with the original vintage style tremolo bridge and the section of the body behind the bridge that was routed out was filled in with a suitable piece of wood and was painted black.

Along the lower edge of the guitar below the original output jack an XLR jack was installed to send the guitar signal to the input of a Fuzz Face and then back into the guitar to allow the guitars volume control to act as a master volume control, but this did not work out as expected, so it too was removed.  This modification required drilling a fairly large hole in the body and when this did not work out it was subsequently filled in with a sawdust and glue mixture and painted black.

Neither of these two above modifications were reproduced with authenticity in the Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Relic Black Strat.  For the Kahler bridge routing / filling-in all that was done on the Fender® Custom Shop Gilmour Relic Strat® was to scribe a line in the paint finish around where the border of the fill-in wood would have met the original body wood if it had actually been routed out and subsequently filled in.  This scribed line simulates the rectangular area that was filled in, but all it amounts to is a very simple and quick rendering of a visual characteristic of Gilmour's original.  As for the XLR jack hole that was filled-in, the same type of simulation was used, a line in the painted finish was scribed in a small rectangular area where the XLR jack would of been mounted and the body wood material inside this scribed area was "beat up" to create a lumpy texture to the body to simulate the original sawdust and glue mixture that was inserted in the hole.

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