Are Yosemite guitar pickups any good? Since they debuted in 2019, Yosemite pickups have been receiving very favorable reviews and they seem to be steadily increasing in popularity. With the fame that Yosemite pickups have been garnering for the past couple of years, are they really as great as reviewers claim them to be?
The history of the electric guitar will always be intertwined with brands like Fender. After all, the biggest guitar manufacturer in the world has contributed largely to the development of the instrument, as well as the culture that sprouted from its invention. For decades, guitar players loved Fenders for their craftsmanship, but it is the pickups that actually made a significant impact on modern-day guitar sound.
Even though Fender is one of the most popular brand names in history, they are certainly not content resting on their laurels. Fender is still one of the most innovative music instrument companies today and they will never stop introducing new stuff to passionate musicians all over the globe.
Aside from their state-of-the-art amplifiers, Fender has also taken strides in developing guitar pickups such as the Yosemite line, which are gaining the favor of guitar players of various levels and styles. Guitars from the lauded American Performer series are equipped with Yosemite pickups, making them one of the more sought-after axes in the Fender catalog.
Just like most successful products in the market, Yosemite is also under scrutiny for the hype that they’ve generated in the past couple of years. Throngs of curious guitar players have been inquiring whether Yosemite guitar pickups are any good and it seems that more and more musicians are flocking to try them out on their instruments.
Yosemite pickups: A brief background
When Grammy award-winning record producer Dave Cobb sought the help of Fender’s pickup guru Tim Shaw to work on one of his vintage guitars, little did he know that this would lead to the creation of the Yosemite pickups.
The vintage guitar in this story was a 1969 Esquire, which Cobb brought in because it had pickups that had been re-wounded a number of times already and he wanted them replaced. Dave Cobb is well-known for his music production work with the likes of Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson and the Rival Sons, to name a few.
To address the problem, Tim Shaw started experimenting with alnico IV magnets in rod form, since a number of companies in the 1960s used them as bar magnets, because of their notable impact on how pickups sound. After creating a Telecaster pickup for Cobb using Alnico IV magnets, the design became the blueprint for Yosemite pickups which were released in 2019 along with the American Performer line.
The American Performer series is Fender’s more affordable “Made in America” line which features versions of their most prominent guitars including the Stratocaster, Telecaster, and the Jazzmaster. American Performer basses such as the Precision Bass, Jazz Bass and Mustang Bass, also come with Yosemite pickups. Each alnico magnet has unique wire specifications for each model to retain their trademark characteristics.
Yosemite guitar pickups are usually a combination of two alnico magnets. For example, the Stratocaster variant mixes Alnico II and Alnico IV, while the Telecaster version is a mixture of Alnico IV and Alnico magnets. On the other hand, the Yosemite bass pickups solely relies on Alnico V magnets.
Another thing that makes Yosemite pickups good is that they can be purchased individually and they are fairly inexpensive. 3-piece Stratocaster pickups are priced at about $140-150, while a pair of Jazz Bass pickups are at a reasonable $120-130.
Are yosemite guitar pickups any good?
Yosemite pickups are really that good, especially if you factor in its friendly price. They are very versatile pickups that bring a lot of options for guitar players from different genres.
From bright chunky funk rhythms, to beefy overdriven riffs, Yosemite pickups can definitely make your Strat or Tele come to life. So whether you are a string-bending blues player, a chicken-pickin’ country guitarist or a hardrockin’ shredder, Yosemite pickups can dial in a vast palette of tones for you.
One noticeable characteristic of a Yosemite pickup is its sound, which almost seems as if it were compressed or enhanced. Even its inventor agrees that the tone quality of Yosemite pickups can be compared to the post-produced sound of a guitar, recorded in a decent studio with a good amp.
Although Yosemite guitar pickups are good enough to challenge the standards set by Fender, guitar and bass models in the upper range are still sticking to their original pickup specifications. A lot of guitar players still prefer the raw sound of older Fender pickups, which is perceived by most as a more “unaltered” sound.
When choosing pickups and other gears, your decision should be based on your personal preference, since Yosemite pickups are invented to provide variety and satisfy the tastes of certain guitar players. As great-sounding as they are for live and recording, Yosemites are not necessarily an improvement on previous pickups by Fender.
If you still doubt whether Yosemite guitar pickups are any good, there are a number of reliable tone tests on YouTube that can give you more insight. However, visiting an on-site music store and hearing and seeing the pickups in person is still your best option.