The Fender Custom Shop Texas Special Stratocaster Pickup Set gained notoriety thanks to their installation in the Stevie Ray Vaughan signature Stratocaster. From that point in the early 1990s, this pickup set has gone on to be the go-to for anybody looking for a screaming hot but still decidedly single-coil sounding pickup. We love them so much we have been ordering the hardwired Custom Shop version in our 61 Stratocaster’s for quite sometime! So let’s dive in and learn all that we can about this much loved pickup set that got so popular, they even made a set for Tele’s!
The Texas Special was designed in late 1980s and early 1990s and then implemented in the SRV Signature Stratocaster starting in 1991-92. These pickups are based on the 57-62 Pickup Set from prior to 1998 but with added output, especially in the bridge position. They have less of that classic scooped mid-range that is so commonly associated with the Fender Sound. In fact, these pickups aren’t really for every guitar or every guitarist. Not everyone could handle the Axe that Stevie swung so unless you can handle some 13’s and your action jacked up, the pickups are only a part of the recipe!
The Bridge pickup sports 6.7k of resistance and carries 3.58h of inductance. The pickup is NOT messing around! It pushes a tube amp into overdrive much earlier than a typical, lower output pickup. It carries a lot more mid-range as well which is why it sounds so thick. Compared to a typical Strat pickup, this one can sound nasally, hard, and brash so spending some time setting it up with your amp is mandatory to get the ball rolling.
The middle pickup carries 6.5k of dc resistance and 2.6h along with an accentuated treble response. These pickups are brighter than they are bass heavy so if you really want tout through the mix, the Texas Special’s are a perfect choice! The middle pickup is also reverse wound so it operates noise-free in positions 2 and 4.
The Neck pickup measures in at 6.2k of dc resistance and 2.4h of inductance. This pickup plays a little nicer and doesn’t overdrive quite as quickly. Rolling the volume and tone off slightly on this one really warms and cleans it up nicely. It still super fat, hollow, round, and decidedly Fender.
Positions 2 and 4 offer that ultra-glassy Fender thing but with no 60 cycle hum thanks to the reverse wound reverse polarity middle pickup. I find position 4 (the Neck and Middle) to be a bit sweeter since it excludes that fierce bridge pickup. I like this position for a more expressive, less driven, less assertive sound. It still provides decent quack and that vowel-y thing that the best Strat’s do.
Part of why these pickups were designed the way they were is because of how SRV set up and played his guitar. High action, big strings, and an iron grip are necessary to achieve the SRV tone, not just the pickups. You will not be able to achieve his tones with 8 gauge strings on your Strat with 3mm action. Then get a super loud tube amp, crank it up and let physics do it’s (their?) thang!
- Fender Custom Shop
- Texas Special Pickup Set
- Alnico V Magnets
- Black Fiber Top and Bottom Plates
- Enamel Coated Wire
- Cloth Connection Wire
- Fiber Bobbins
- Reverse-Wound-Reverse-Polarity Middle Pickup
- Staggered Pole Pieces
- Neck: 2.4 Henries and 6.2K DC Resistance
- Middle: 2.6 Henries and 6.5K DC Resistance
- Bridge: 3.58 Henries and 7.1k DC Resistance
- Manufacturer Part Number 0992111000
- UPC 717669447762
Our Fender Custom Shop 1961 Stratocaster Relic Series comes with the Texas Special pickups.
The Fender American Special Strat came loaded with Texas Special Pickups.
This edition of Matt's Blog was penned by... Matt! Whose WPM has eclipsed his BPM.