Fender Lead II and III Pickups & Switches Difference

Fender recently unveiled its new Lead II and Lead III guitars that bring back memories of the classic Lead series the company created in 1979. Both of the models look like a strat but comes in a bit compact size. Fender Lead II incorporates two Player Series Stratocaster Single-Coil pickups whereas the Lead III features two Player Series humbucking pickups. Except for pickups, there are other minor differences that separate the Lead II from Lead III guitar.

Fender Lead II

Just like the classic late 70’s models, Fender Lead II offers a bright sound that can easily cut through the mix. Thanks to the dual-slanted Player Series Alnico 5 Strat Single-Coil pickups. These pickups are quite loud and do not squeeze the dynamics of the sound.

Up to three pickup selection options are possible with the 3-way switch:

  1. Bridge Pickup
  2. Bridge And Neck Pickups
  3. Neck Pickup

With the special 2-way bottom switch available on Lead II, you can flip the polarity/phase of the selected pickup. As a benefit, you get up to 6 different sound possibilities to experiment with.

Lead II comes in 3 different color options, Neon Green, Black, and Crimson Red Transparent. Only the Black model uses a Pau Ferro fingerboard material while the other two options make use of a Maple fingerboard.

Fender Lead III

Fender Lead III is reminiscent of the original 1982 model that features a warm sound using humbucking pickups. Just like Lead II, Lead III features the same compact body, modern C neck, 70-s style F logo tuners, as well as hard-tail bridges that provide more sustain.

The main difference between Fender Lead III and Lead II lies in the types of pickups they use and the behavior of the special toggle switch. While Fender Lead II uses Player Series Alnico 5 Strat Single-Coil pickups, Lead III comes with a pair of Alnico 2 Player Series Humbucking pickups.

Now let’s talk about the behavior of the special toggle switch. Unlike the 2-way phase reverse switch on Fender Lead II, Lead III features a 3-way Coil-Split Toggle Switch. Basically, the 3-way switch in Lead III splits the humbucking pickups in the selected position. For example, if you have selected the neck pickup, and you toggle the bottom switch to the same pickup, it will only split the neck pickup.

3 available options for Lead III include Purple Metallic, Olympic White, and Sienna Sunburst. In this case, only the Sienna Sunburst comes with a Maple fingerboard while the other two options utilize Pau Ferro.

Fender Lead II vs Lead III Comparison

Lead IILead III
PickupsPlayer Series Alnico 5 Strat Single-Coil Player Series Alnico 2 Humbucking
Pickup Selection Options33
Bottom Switch FunctionChanges PhaseSplits the Coil
Bridge6-Saddle String-Through-Body Hardtail With Block Saddles 6-Saddle String-Through-Body Hardtail With Block Saddles
Neck ShapeModern “C” Modern “C”
FingerboardPau Ferro, Maple
(Depends on Model)
Pau Ferro, Maple
(Depends on Model)
Variants-Neon Green
-Crimson Red Trans
-Purple Metallic
-Olympic White
-Sienna Sunburst
Scale Length25.5″ (648 mm) 25.5″ (648 mm)
Fingerboard Radius 9.5″ (241 mm) 9.5″ (241 mm)
PriceCheck Price & AvailabilityCheck Price & Availability

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Ishaan Sarna

Founder of AUDEMPIRE (Pro Audio Equipment Store), SOUNDELICIT (Music Industry & Pro Audio Blog), TECHNOISER (Tech blog), and ISOLAPSE (Motion Industry & Photography Gear Blog). Music Producer by profession and also a Tech Enthusiast.