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Abby Retires: Legendary pickup winder Abigail Ybarro retires after 57 years

from various sources - compiled/edited by Ted Crocker


Legendary pickup winder Abigail Ybarro retires after 57 years with Fender

Mrs. Ybarra joined Fender in 1956 and started winding pickups in 1958. Like that Hendrix tone? Fan of Buddy Holly or Stevie Ray? There's a good chance that she wound the pickups.

Abby, the music world thanks you!

Abby in the Fender factory in 1959


from Fender Custom Shop:

The Fender Custom Shop is pleased and wistful to announce that one of its most revered employees, “pickup artist” Abigail Ybarra, is retiring after more than 50 years in the Fender family. In celebration, Fender arranged for Los Lobos to play at her private retirement party with dozens of her coworkers.

Ybarra came to Fender in 1956 and in 1958 began hand-winding and hand-building guitar pickups for the fledgling Southern California musical instrument company (pickups convert string vibrations into electric signals, creating the “voice” of an electric guitar).

Ybarra’s hand-wound pickups have been included in Fender’s most popular instruments from the late-’50s to today, and were most likely found on instruments played by legends such as Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Buddy Holly, Stevie Ray Vaughan and countless others. Her pickups have become highly desirable and sought after by artists and collectors alike.

“Abby is one of the many individuals, like George Fullerton, Freddie Tavares and Forrest White, who have set our course as a company and leader in our industry,” said Mike Eldred, Fender Custom Shop Marketing Director. “She has literally ‘set the tone’ for Fender, and we will continue to carry on her legacy in the Fender Custom Shop.”

Over the past three years, Fender Custom Shop Pickup Specialist Josefina Campos has been apprenticing under Ybarra, mastering the techniques that only a half-century of experience can create. Campos, who has been with Fender since 1991, is more than prepared to take the torch from Ybarra’s legendary hands.

“Josefina has been part of the Fender Custom Shop for many years now, and she has spent a good portion of her time winding great-sounding pickups and apprenticing with one of the best pickup builders in the world,” added Eldred. “We are grateful to add her to an extraordinary group of Master Builders, and excited to watch her take her place in Fender's rich history.”

Campos-wound pickups are already in great demand, and the Fender Custom Shop is planning to include them in select limited instruments and in custom-ordered Master Built models.

Abby and Seymour Duncan

Abby with Los Lobos

As with any legendary character, there are conflicting stories. Many believe that it is her 'ball of yarn' scatter technique that gave the pickups that came from her particular winding station that certain magic tone. Others believe it is just smart marketing hype on the part of Fender. Either way, in some circles pickups signed by Abby are revered and worth a lot of money.


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great info Ted, thanks for sharing...

That's so cool. thx for posting this

very cool thanks ted....

did you see this??

Awesome history lesson Ted. Thank you for sharing.

what a kewl story.

Hope she's still around. I also wonder what her pickups will sound like when I install them?

Bump, Abby, the 'Queen of Tone', legendary Fender pickup winder.

I've got me a set here waiting for the right build.

Try winding your own! 


It's easier than you might think, and winding your own for a CBG is a snap. Actually even winding humbuckers is pretty easy.

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