Josefina Campos (Fender Custom Shop) Interview

It’s likely that this persons name means something only to the most discerning bass nerds, yet she is responsible for most of the pickups that come out of Fender’s Custom Shop! A very charming lady whose job places her as heir to one of Fenders most revered employees, none other than “pickup artist” Abigail Ybarra. Let’s ask you some questions …

How and when did you start working at Fender?

I started working at Fender in 1992 sanding the bodies of the guitars which I did for 5 months. After that they promoted me to organize the “conveyer” which is where all the bodies of the already painted guitars are placed and organized.

For a long time you were the assistant to a very relevant person in the world of pickups, Abby Ybarra. What was it like to work alongside her?

When Abby thought about retiring a position opened for which about 15 people applied for. I had the pleasure to be chosen by Abby as the person who would succeed her when she retired. Three years later she retired. So for three years I was her apprentice and assistant…

I knew I’d enjoy working with her because I had already worked with her years before on a line of pickups (not hand wiring) where she was the supervisor. During that time we spent working together Abby and I became good friends. The three years I spent at her side were years of learning and dedication but they also gave me the opportunity to properly get to know Abby. I have so much respect for her, for the wonderful person she is, for being an excellent teacher and above all I am able to call her my best friend.

Is it a big responsibility to be called her successor?

Of course, it is an enormous responsibility because her legacy extends worldwide.

How is a normal work day for you?

My work day begins at 4:00 a.m. reviewing the orders for the Master Builders and later preparing the material to start my tasks.

What amount of importance do pickups have in the end result of a bass?

An enormous amount of importance, it could be said that they are the heart of the instrument.

Do you think the design of pickups has been developed as much as possible?

No, I think there are other design possibilities and they should be explored. Of course without forgetting the existing designs.


Josefina Campos in the Fender Custom Shop

Is there such a big difference between winding by hand or doing it with a machine in the final result?

Yes, there is a big difference in sound, people who know sound will agree with me.

Among the components of a pickup … magnets, cable … Which is the most important from your point of view?

For me it is everything, from the magnets, the fibers, the wire, the welding … everything influences to be able to have a good pickup.

How do you manage to maintain standards sounds in a very manual activity like handwired? Do deviations arise?

Precisely for this reason the sound standard is maintained because it is done manually and the deviations are minimized.

Are there substantial differences in the pickup construction process if these are for guitar or bass?

Yes, the differences vary from the type of magnets they have, if they are with flat or not, if they are alnico 5 or 2, the style of the fiber, the type of wire used in each one is different.

Have you had a situation in the design or development of a set of pickups that you found especially difficult to solve?

No, thank goodness since I had the best teacher in the world.

What is a day like for you when you don’t work? What do you like to do?

To be with my family, my husband, my children and now my grandchildren. Enjoying them, cooking, cleaning the house. What I like the most is to be with my family, go to the movies or to dinner and go shopping … I love shopping.

Thanks Josefina

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