The Fender Custom Shop is both 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 multiple Grammy Award-winning band Los Lobos to play at her private retirement party with dozens of her coworkers earlier today.
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.