Music, for many of us, is a means to produce beauty of form. It enables the artist to exhibit their emotions and sentiments. Music lovers all around the world go for distinct instruments to manifest their spirit, out of which guitars and violins are the most popular. But have you ever gone in-depth and thought about its technicalities? What makes that sound appear so melodious? Well, those are the pick-ups installed inside them which are winded by people we don't know about, but we hear their hard work through the euphonious sound the instrument produces.
For those who don't know, a pick-up is a transducer used to sense and catch mechanical vibrations created by musical instruments. To be more precise, this includes stringed instruments like an electric guitar. It further converts the electrical signals into musical sounds by using an amplifier. The signals can also be recorded directly. They are quite popular and useful, especially in guitars and violins.
The most famous pick-ups to date are produced by the Fender company, and the artist behind those pick-ups is a charming lady Abigail Ybarra who has lent her services to Fender for more than 57 years.
So let’s dive in through this gem lady, her contributions to the music industry, and how her pickups have become globally recognized.
Who Was Abigail Ybarra?
There is a greater chance that you will not be familiar with Abigail Ybarra's name, but you must have heard or seen her work. Her work has influenced the sound of popular music by forging the sound of Fender guitars.
Abigail worked at Fender for more than fifty-seven years. Her services include hand-wound pickups, which are situated on guitars played by some of the most renowned guitarists of our time like Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix. She, with her very own hands, devised the tone of the instruments that sounded to generations of music players and fans. She has played the crucial role of setting the sound of the guitar in the twentieth century. She is widely known as "The Queen of Tone."
Abigail, in 1956, joined Fender as a young teenager to provide financial aid to her family. She found her way to Fender, which was at that time a small 10-year-old factory. It is for her contributions that fender is now recognized globally. At that time, demands for guitars increased, which created opportunities for many people. Along with her cousin, Abigail also submitted her application and was selected the right way. She was perfect for her job due to her professionalism and resolute work ethic. Leo Fender trained Abigail himself. Fender was fond of hiring women employees; when Abigail was asked about it, she replied,
“They figured that men’s hands were too rough, men just wouldn’t be able to handle such delicate work, so it was just women.”
At times to some people winding pickups appears to be a boring task. Still, Abigail, with her experience, explored that her level of excellence always matched the detailing and precision of crafting. She gave birth to experimentation in how sound changes when the tension of the wire is modified. Her distinctive capabilities raised the company's image to a new level.
On being asked how many pickups she has wounded per day or per week, she answered;
“Leo never had us winding for eight hours. He would only have us do it for four hours because he thought for us to sit there for eight hours was too much. So in four hours, we would do something like 15 or 16 pickups.”
Today her work legacy is heard by millions of people through classic recordings. The guitar with her last wounded pickup was purchased by Keith Richards. Before she got her retirement in 2013, she made sure to pass her zeal and artistry by mentoring and training Josefina Campos, who was a new winder at fender.
Why Abigail’s pick-ups have become well recognized?
When Abigail joined Fender, in just two years of her work, she completely changed rock music and the guitar's sound. Her guitars become globally recognized, and their demand expanded. Her guitars are highly admired and revered all around the globe.
According to Marty;
“Well...one time a friend of mine came over to the house to jam. He had this new MIM strat that was nothing special, I had heard it before several times. We were playing through a couple of amps and his cheapo strat was just killing me. We played for a while and I finally asked him what he had done to his strat? He said that he had found this set of numbered & signed Abigail Ybarra pickups in a leftover bin at a music store. Weeks go by and I can't get the sound out of my head. I'm wondering what they would sound like in my CS60's relic. I won't disclose what I had to pay to get him to take them out and sell them to me but...it was worth it. I HEARD the difference and I have a drawer full of strat pickups. Just a true story about my set of Abbys.”
The above review shows that Marty was immediately blown away by the music without even knowing whose pickups was his friend using. That is the magic Abigail causes, and that's how her work is heard.
According to Brain Scherzer;
“I bought a Masterbuilt Tele with Bigsby and Abby hand wound pickups today. Those pickups are absolutely incredible! People can say it's hype for Abby, but I played a bunch of Custom Shop teles today and picked this one.... which was the only one with Abby-wound pickups.”
Another review showcasing the extraordinary crafting skills of Abigail (Abby);
“I'm very lucky and own a guitar with a set of Abby's pickups in them. The strat in question is a 50th Anniversary American Series from 2004. According to the marketing blurb, Abby wound pickups to the original specifications and they were only included with the 50th Anniversary guitars; the Custom Shop dead-on accurate 1954 reproduction, and the American Series. The American Deluxe had SCN's in them. I do have to say that this guitar sounds beautiful and haven't found another strat that sounds quite like this one.” - Fox5150
Abigail always used to check, date, and sign her pickups which the public appreciates.
Are Abigail’s pick-ups worth the money?
Abigail’s hand-wounded pick-ups are part of fender’s most sought-after instruments for more than five decades to date. Her pickups have proved worthwhile and are highly admired by artists and collectors.
Mike Eldred, the marketing director of Fender custom shop, expressed his delightful views about the services of Ybarra, saying she is responsible for 'setting the tone of the fender. He has titled Ybarra as the 'Leader of Fender industry.'
This shows her excellence and commitment to her work which has resulted in fruitful outcomes. The prices of her pickups vary. They are available at the expense of every range. The latest models are, however, at a higher end.
According to a buyer on eBay;
“Finally, my 1971 Strat sounds like a classic Strat. These pickups are hot and full of tone. Best of all they have that classic "quack" associated with Vintage Stratocastors. And even though they are not reverse-wound, I do have any hum issues. Best of all, I have saved $70 off the going price.”
The above review clearly shows that Ybarra’s pick-ups are a blasting combination of both sound quality and cost relief.
The article was an attempt to celebrate the services of unknown artists like Abigail Ybarra, who are responsible for the manufacturing of your favorite guitars. The Guitar tone is all about the pickups, and Ybarra is the lady in charge of every single piece of music you love.
We have given you a detailed review of her endowment to the music industry. Now next time when you are about to buy the best pick-up for your guitar, without a second thought, go for Abby's pick-ups. You won't regret it!