As part of my monthly intheblues tone podcast I decided to have a chat about the prices of Fender instruments in Australia and their suggested retail price which has now hit an all-time high. For those who live outside of Australia – when we go to www.Fender.com we are directed to www.Fender.com.au and I am making an assumption that if you live outside of the US you might have a localized version of the site that you’re automatically taken to (unless you use a VPN).
I hadn’t checked the Fender site for a long time and I was pretty stunned at their price hike even on their bog-standard Mexican made Stratocasters and Telecasters. Making mention of this publicly and I then realized Australia wasn’t the only country where the prices are more than doubled in most cases sometimes tripled.
As I mentioned in the follow up video below. I am aware that we pay GST/Import Tax on imported goods over $1000 AUD and shops also pay GST which is 10% of the price of the goods. There’s also a $50.00 AU import fee on these items for goods over $1000 AUD. This brings a $1000 item to $1150.00 without taking into effect the shipping costs. As you can see we are now encroaching the $1499 price area BUT there is one thing you’re forgetting. A Fender Standard Stratocaster only sells for $599 at the most in the USA. As of writing this post that equates to 797.832 in Australian dollars. This price is then essentially doubled in Australia. Given, you won’t actually pay $1499 in shops but the expectation that everyone gets a deal is also not true. Given the fact there’s 10% GST paid on a guitar at the time of sale (and also if the import order exceeds $1000.00 as mentioned). Let’s drop the guitar in value to $1000 AUD. At this price, the shop will have to essentially pay $100 for Goods and Services Tax in Australia. While I can’t speak on the exact amounts of shipping – I have shipped a number of guitars overseas and it’s clearly not the difference between what is left between the GST payments and the items value.
The Australian dollar is also the same right now as Canada in comparison to the USD. Check out Landon’s video from Canada and his thoughts on it too!
Let’s start by saying that the Zexcoil pickups have set the tone standard for me. I would choose them in a heart beat over any single coil pickups I have ever played and they do not buzz at all. Before I explain more about why I like them lets take a look at what I don’t like about other types of noiseless pickups.
My Experience with other Types of Noiseless Pickups
Fender Noiseless pickups have always been very touch and go when it comes to tone. Sure, they do all seem to eliminate noise but it has always come with a sacrifice with tonal characteristics on the most part. I’ve had a lot of noiseless pickups for my Strats over the years including SC Noiseless Pickups, Hot Noiseless Pickups, Vintage Noiseless Pickups, and D’Allen Johnny Hiland Pickups and they all were missing something. The D’Allen and Hot Noiseless were as close to the Strat tone as I could find at the time but they all had no where near the dynamics and feel of a single coil when you did a direct comparison. For some people this doesn’t matter so much but for me, it did. The D’allan Pickups were okay but they ended up taking my strat tone and turning it into something that wasn’t very “Strat-like” in the end so I ditched them as well.
One thing I always noticed with the Fender SC Noiseless pickups was there was a lack of low end warmth and a lack of high end chime and I also hear it on the N3 Fender pickups too. The high end ended up always sounding forced and brittle like it wanted to crack your fillings. It wasn’t a high frequency tone, it felt like it ended at a place that wasn’t natural or pleasing to the ear. This graph below illustrates how I hear the generic noiseless pickups in comparison to the single coil tones.
Why are Zexcoil Pickups so good?
Zexcoil pickups retain the entire frequency of the single coil sound giving your Strat a “Strat” tone.
They eliminate all buzz and can handle clean to high gain tones without any pickups squeal.
Each coil is tuned and stacked in a way that sound perfect for the string it’s under.
They feel great to play! Since having them in my Strat I have never looked back or questioned my tone.
In a direct comparison to Fender Custom Shop pickups I prefer to the tones of the Zexcoil pickups.
I literally have zero issues using this Stratocaster in any venue now, this is one huge advantage over my old pickups.
These pickups are as good in my Stratocaster as my Joe Barden Danny Gatton Pickups are in my Telecaster in terms of tone, feel, and usability.
In this video of the Swamp Thang Speaker I am using a left handed set of Zexcoil pickups. This video have the 500k pots in the Volume and Tone positions.
In these videos I am actually using a right handed set of Zexcoil Texas pickups in my left handed Stratocaster. This video have the 250k pots in the Volume and Tone positions.
I honestly feel that the Zexcoil pickups will be the last set of pickups for this Stratocaster. I have tried numerous sets of pickups both single coil and noiseless pickups in this guitar and none of them sounded as nice as these do in combination of reducing the buzz and hum. Replacing the 250k pots to 500k pots made a difference to the high end as well making it chime without getting too bright, too harsh or any of the characteristics I can’t stand about bad noisless pickups. These sound fantastic and you’ll see them in my main Stratocaster 10 years from now.