Quick Hit: Curtis Novak Jazzmaster Widerange Set Review

The former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist and frequent Fender Custom Shop collaborator hits a homer with these must-try pickups for JM nuts.

Curtis Novak’s Jazzmaster Widerange (aka JM-WR) pickups use threaded, adjustable iron-chromium-cobalt pole-piece magnets and steel bottom plates in an effort to authentically infuse Jazzmaster-sized routes with the sounds of Fender’s rare cunife (cobalt-nickel-iron)-magnet Wide Range humbuckers from the ’70s. The neck pickup is rated at 10.3k, and the bridge is in the 10.5–11k range.

As with the original Seth Lover-designed Wide Ranges, JM-WRs aim for single-coil tones minus the hum—not PAF-like humbucker sounds (which are best achieved with steel pole pieces and a bar magnet beneath the coil). To that end, the JM-WRs succeed magnificently: With them, my baritone Jazzmaster retained its gloriously fat, hollowed-out neck sounds, engulfing middle-position chime, and bridge-position slice, but with significantly less extraneous noise, more warmth, depth, and body than traditional-voiced JM pickups, and a nice helping of the trademark Wide Range texture and grit. A must-try for JM addicts.

Recorded using a Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster with a Warmoth baritone neck running into a J. Rockett Audio Designs Archer (output at 2 o’clock, treble at 1 o’clock, gain off) and an MXR Reverb (set to “epic” mode), and then into a Jaguar HC50 combo and a Goodsell Valpreaux 21. The Jaguar’s Shure SM57 and the Goodsell’s Royer R-121 were routed through an Apogee Duet and into GarageBand, with no subsequent EQ-ing or tweaking.
Clip 1 - Arpeggiated rhythm in bridge position, then middle, then neck.

Test Gear: Squier/Warmoth baritone Jazzmaster, Goodsell Valpreaux 21 w/Weber Blue Dog and Silver Bell speakers, Jaguar HC50 w/ Weber Gray Wolf, MXR Reverb, J. Rockett Audio Designs Archer.

Ratings

Pros:
Retains fundamental Jazzmaster tonal characteristics. Fantastically detailed. Warm and intriguingly textured.

Cons:
On the pricey side—although significantly less than cunife-magnet repros.

Street:
$150 (each)

Curtis Novak Jazzmaster Widerange Set
curtisnovak.com

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$1,149

Fender Player Plus Meteora HH
fender.com

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