Tri-Sonic Pickups: General Information, Brian May Red Special Pickups, Coil Winding and Assembly

I made the embedded video below in June 2022 to accompany the FAQ on Tri-Sonic pickups. It is 22 minutes long and covers Tri-Sonic pickups in depth. I take a look inside an early 1960s vintage pot magnet style Burns Tri-Sonic pickup and compare and contrast vintage and modern variants. I discuss the characteristics of the specific set fitted to Brian May’s Red Special guitar with reference to a replica set made by Ade Turner of Adeson Pickups.

I demonstrate two methods for engraving the chrome plated brass cover then wind a bobbinless Tri-Sonic style coil on my Stepcraft 2/840 CNC machine using a custom made former to my own unique design. Finally, I assemble all the component parts of a Tri-Sonic pickup and measure its DC resistance and inductance using a Peak Atlas LCR45 meter.

Burns Tri-Sonic Pickups: General Information

I have written a short (<1,500 word) article intended as a primer on Burns Tri-Sonic pickups for general interest within a Brian May Red Special context:

The article is illustrated with a number of original photographs, CAD renders and a few ‘library pictures’ like those depicted below:

Fender Stratocaster Pickguard Assembly and Wiring

I recently completed assembly and wiring of a replacement pickguard for my 2012 Fender American Standard Stratocaster pending arrival of an EMG DG20 loaded pickguard in early February when new stock arrives. I converted it in 2018 to Brian May specification and you can read about that project here:

I recorded some parts of the process and compiled the embedded video below which has sections speeded up either 4x or 8x. It is intended for curiosity value only and not instructional purposes because there are many detailed videos with commentary on Youtube to show you the various methods of wiring a Strat pickguard. The components I used are as follows:

  • genuine Fender 11 hole modern style White Moto pickguard for three single coil pickups
  • Oak Grigsby 5-way blade switch
  • Three Fender supplied CTS 250 kOhm log/audio taper potentiometers measuring 202, 220 and 259 kOhm
  • Vintage specification single coil pickups hand made by Ade Turner of Adeson Fenton Weill in Burbage, Wiltshire, U.K. DC resistances 6.29, 6.30 and 6.31 kOhm, inductances 2.20, 2.34 and 2.26 H
  • 22 nF tone capacitor supplied with the pots instead of the standard 47 nF variant.

Christmas Presents 2020

What did you all get for Christmas? I got a number of genuine Fender parts, Adeson vintage single coil pickups and a Jamie Humphries instructional DVD from the excellent Lick Library series. I intend to return my red Strat to original Fender specification as I prepare to put Brian May guitars and gear on the shelf and move in a new direction in 2021. I got into Pink Floyd in my first year at Durham University in 1992 when my then room-mate Phil Malone at Grey College played The Wall constantly. I listened to Brit Floyd and The Australian Pink Floyd Show (TAPFS) a lot recently while developing this web site.

It goes without saying that David Gilmour is revered amongst guitar players for his unique sounds which, unlike Brian May tones, are surprisingly challenging to nail down at home. I have ordered an EMG DG20 loaded pickguard from Andertons which is due back in stock at the end of January 2021 but this standard Fender Stratocaster outfit will do the job along with RAT 2 and Big Muff Pi distortion pedals and a TC Electronic G-Major 2 effects unit. Nigel Knight has built himself a custom KAT-DG HiWatt 50 Special amplifier with Fane Crescendo speakers and is willing to explore a lower-powered custom HiWatt project for chasing Gilmour tones at home… unless I splash out on a HiWatt Little Rig DR20/0.5 first! Check out the details on his website:

One of the leading internet resources for Gilmour information is the excellent Gilmourish site founded 2003, designed, written and hosted by Bjorn Riis: