UNDER THE HOOD
A closer look at Gretsch’s new FideliSonic 90 pickups
Removing the pickups you see that the centre block is far from solid [pic 6] – one reason for the lack of weight. Imagine two longitudinal bars running between the top and back (and connecting them) allowing the bridge and Bigsby to be firmly screwed but the actual centre is air. Small wooden blocks are necessary to mount the pickups on – with them unscrewed and removed, the control harness can be pulled through with ease. It’s therefore pretty easy to investigate the controls, and we find Alpha ‘Made in Korea’ A500k pots, although there’s no treble-bleed on the master volume. The original ‘staple’ P-90 used rectangular (height-adjustable) magnetic polepieces; these FideliSonics are different. The BHK label on the brass baseplate [pic 7] tells us they’re made by Booheung, the giant Korean pickup maker. Removing the FideliSonic’s cover, you also see there’s no additional waxing – only the coil is potted like a standard P-90, which would normally have a plastic cover. You can also clearly see that this is very much a standard P-90, its two bar magnets sitting under the coil and connecting to the central polepieces [pic 8]. Now, these are not magnetic poles like the originals or any contemporary replicas we’ve seen. The ‘staples’ are simply 3.2mm square section pieces, 7.95mm long, joined to 2.75mm diameter steel pins that pass through the coil and protrude out of the brass baseplate. Polepieces aside, it’s nearly identical to the standard BHK P-90 Gretsch uses [pic 9], but here the bobbin appears less full, accounting for the lower DCR, and the magnets under the coil are longer, too (63.5mm versus 57.7mm). We get readings of 7.9kohms (bridge) and 6.9k (neck); the standard BHK P-90 on the Gretsch Junior Jet at the neck, for example, measures 9kohms. These differences all move the FideliSonic away from a standard P-90. Listening to the pickup without its cover in the neck position of our T-style [pic 10], with just master volume (and a treble bleed circuit) and tone, we’d definitely conclude that the cover is rounding the sound as we hear on our review guitars.