Product spotlight - McNelly Pickups 46/58 for Jazzmaster
One of my absolutely favourite sets from the McNelly range, the 46/58 is a wonderfully dynamic pickup that captures the chime and bass response we associate with the Jazzmaster along with the mid-rangy dynamic of a great P90. They're a hybrid design, which is where the name '46/58' comes into play, as they're the market introduction years of the Gibson P90, and the Fender Jazzmaster single coil which is a nice tip of the hat to their inspiration.
For those reading that perhaps aren't overly familiar with the Jazzmaster pickup, they are in fact a true single coil pickup. Not quite the commonly mistaken Soapbar nickname they're greeted with by many, although understandable given their large plastic cover appearance akin to the Gibson P90. But that's ultimately where the similarity ends, as a P90 is a pickup based around screw pole pieces, with alnico bar magnets underneath the tightly wound coil, magnetising the poles and very often has a hotter output. Whereas the Jazzmaster single coil has rod pole piece magnets centered to a a very flat and widely wound coil, with a slightly calmer output in comparison in most cases.
In more detail, let's compare them with a traditional tele pickup and you'll notice some differences in their construction to other true single coils.
Here you can see a Tele bridge pickup, showing a taller pickup between the bobbin top and baseplate than it's Jazzmaster brother, with the wire wound tightly to the rod magnet pole pieces.
Here is a photo (taken from a eBay listing of a vintage set) that nicely shows the much flatter, shorter space between the bobbin top and bottom, whilst also showing how the wind goes much wider across the flatwork. This makes a big difference to their sound and response, the theory is the wider surface area of wind creates a broader frequency response. So straight away you can see that under the cover of a JM pickup, although it might initially look like a soapbar, it is in fact a true single coil but far from it's other Tele or Strat Fender designs too.
Now we've looked at both the JM single coil, and discussed a P90 soapbar design, let's see how McNelly Pickups have decided to combine the two with the 46/58 and why. The idea here was very much to capture the character of the Jazzmaster single coil. That original design has a fat low end, sweet, clear trebles which when combined with the traditionally used 1 Meg lead circuit pots provide a chimey character which has defined the guitar's reputation, particularly with the surf crowd but also with the indie, grunge and rock crowds due to it lending itself so well to pedals and drive to name a couple of reasons. It's truly a fantastic sound that isn't produced quite the same by any other single coil I believe, I certainly became a fan when I came to be more accustomed to the model. If it's so good, then why create a hybrid? Well, the P90 has some pretty charming character too, right? So when developing his Jazzmaster pickups, Tim McNelly looked at the P90 for some tonal inspiration and decided to incorporate some of it's construction to the model. The photo above nicely shows how the underside of the 46/58 looks. You can clearly see it's traditional JM super flat, wide wound coil, but there's more. Underneath that there are two alnico bar magnets, just like the P90 soapbar, but instead of the soapbars screw pole pieces the 46/58 still has the traditionally used rod magnets.
How does that effect the tone? Quite nicely indeed! They still have a fairly modest 6.6k neck and 8.3k output, so you're not going to get screaming, raunchy P90s here, but you are going to dip your toes in the good bits of what a P90 brings to the table. The mid-rangy dynamic touch responsiveness is there, but the sound is very much Jazzmaster and this combination has resulted in the 46/58 being a really popular choice around the world for fans of this Leo Fender offset.
If you do want raunchy P90s for your Jazzmaster though, you can certainly do so! As McNelly also take their normal soapbar P90 design and fit it into JM covers with the JM90. Those can be viewed HERE
Here's a demo video I recorded back in 2017 of a 46/58 set fitted into a Squier VM Jazzmaster with CTS 500k pots in the lead circuit played clean through a Princeton reverb style amplifier.
I hope this slightly more in depth look at the idea behind the 46/58 pickup helps with choosing the right set for you and your Jazzmaster. Or perhaps if you weren't a Jazzmaster player prior and might be becoming one soon and just want to learn more about the great offset.
For more information on the 46/58, please get in touch or view the product on the shop HERE
I'm the proud UK representative of McNelly Pickups, and do my best to ensure I have stock of the ever popular 46/58.
Thanks for your time, and look after each other!