1978 Maxon Excel pickup rewind

I don't usually rewind "common" pickups like Strats and Teles as there's an absolute endless choice of great original and reproductions out there but when it comes to vintage Japanese I like to keep all original guitars all original if possible. 

This beautiful late '78 Greco Super Sounds has been lying around the workshop for a while waiting for me to get the time (and inclination) to rewind this bridge pickup. 

The rest of the guitar is in great condition and everything else is original so it would have messed with my puny brain a little if I just dropped another Strat pickup I had lying around here into this guitar. I mean, it would have sounded great with an old SD or DiMarzio or whatever in it but I would have had to list it on the site as "all original except bridge pickup" .....


These Maxon EXCEL pickups are really nice vintage Fender copies and are sought after in thee Grecos now that people know how good they are so it was nice to get it back to life. I've written plenty about Maxon pickups and how many of them are absolutely superb copies of Fender, Gibson, even Ric and others made by one of the greatest electronics manufacturers in the world specifically for some Japanese guitar manufacturers from the 60's through to the early 80's.

Nisshin Onpa (Maxon) put A LOT of effort into making exact copies of the most popular Fender and Gibson pickups before Fender and Gibson did. Their U-series and DRY humbuckers are some of the best Gibson style humbuckers out there and these EXCEL single coils are recognized as great vintage Fender Strat pickups.

This one was dead in the guitar so I took it out and measured the pickup at the solder lugs for the lead wires. It still showed nothing there so un-soldered the lead wires and started to look for physical damage. As I've mentioned in pickup rewind blogs before (search on rewind) it's always better to try and "fix" a pickup before cutting all the wire off. There was no obvious damage so I removed the black tape covering the coil.

There was still no reading from anywhere and no breaks in the coil so I started at the end and began to unwind the coil to see if there was a break near the end. After about 50 winds there was still nothing so ..... I cut the coil off the bobbin.

These are pretty much a standard Fender pickup with alnico magnets set into top and bottom form work. The magnets are wrapped in tape to stop corrosion from shorting the coil and then the whole coil wrapped in tape to protect the wire.

With the wire off it was obvious the bobbin and magnets were still in great condition and the coil had just shorted somewhere. I cleaned everything up and attached the bobbin to my winder.

These EXCELs measure in the high 4K range (I've seen them up to 6K) and I've wound enough Strat pickups to know I was going to need about 8200 turns of #42 wire to get around there. I measured the wire properly (just to be sure) and started winding.

Most Fenders use #42 wire and these Maxons, like some Fenders use plain enamel ('64 onward) so it's easy to wind to "size" while watching the counter. The physical size of the coil will be very similar if the wire size and insulation is the same. 

I used a dark coated enamel wire to match the original and put 8210 winds on and took it off the winder. I was tempted to add a little more to give it a little more "kick" but I always stop myself when I'm restoring something like this to original, even when they feel a little underwhelming like this. After all, it's what this guitar had and what Maxon made so who am I to argue?


I soldered the coil wires back onto the eyelets and measured the coil. 4.8K matched the middle and neck nicely. I usually use new tape but the original tape for the eyelet covers and coil were still good and sticky so I thought I'd keep it even more original and re-use them. With the lead wires back on it dropped back into the scratchplate will all original electrics and back into the guitar.

This is a really nice vintage Strat and this guitar, made by Fujigen in very late '78 was the precursor to what was about to be Fender Japan a couple of years later.

The pickup balances nicely with it's friends and looks and sounds just like it did before it shorted. It's nice to repair this pickup so the next person who removes the plate sees 3 Maxon EXCEL pickups and all original wiring. I will of course mention the rewind in the sales blurb so the person who buys it knows it's been done but with some vintage electric guitars getting to the ages they are pickup rewinds are going to be a more common thing if you want to keep them original and playable and I have no problem personally calling a guitar original if it's had the original pickup rewound with the original wire and all other parts kept intact.


This is off to the shop for someone to love.

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