The Pickups

At the core of an electric guitar lies its pickups. These components are pivotal in shaping the guitar’s sound. That is why I use my own handmade and hand-wound pickup, prompting my reliance on custom, handcrafted designs that fit perfectly my guitars.

Contrary to popular belief, every aspect of a pickup contributes significantly to its performance. My objective is to craft pickups that not only imbue warmth and musicality but also adeptly capture the subtleties of string vibration while enhancing its sonic qualities. In my pursuit, I aimed to evoke the revered tones of the 1950s and 1960s, steering clear of mere imitations of classic humbuckers or single coils. Let’s dispel a few misconceptions. Despite assertions to the contrary, replicating a ’50s-era pickup proves elusive due to a crucial factor. While magnets, bobbins, pole pieces, and baseplates can be duplicated, the manufacture of AWG copper wire in the same way it was made during the 50s and 60s is almost impossible. The machinery and techniques employed in the 1950s yielded wires with varying gauges and inconsistencies influencing the coils and, consequently, the pickup’s sound in nuanced ways.

Furthermore, throughout the 1950s, there were inconsistencies in the manufacturing process of pickups and their constituent parts. The renowned PAF humbuckers, for instance, were crafted using various magnet types and differing numbers of coil windings, resulting in a spectrum of sound quality from exceptional to less remarkable. Consequently, when I embarked on creating my own pickups, I embarked on a journey to discover the optimal versions of my favorite vintage pickups. This involved meticulously dissecting and studying each model, eventually culminating in the development of my own designs over time. The outcome materialized in the form of the Electrotone single coil lipsticks, the Dual Electrotone Humbuckers, and the Stapletrons Humbuckers, all meticulously handmade and wound by hand. Why do hand-wound pickups sound superior? To comprehend this, let’s delve into the structure of the pickup coil. These coils are meticulously crafted by wrapping a copper wire of a specific gauge (such as 43 AWG) with a specific insulation material (plain enamel, formvar, or poly). Notably, the choice of insulation material also influences the sonic characteristics of the pickup, as can be seen and heard here:

The wire is wrapped thousands of times around the bobbin.

Now, out of the three aspects of the wire, the one that can help the most in fine-tuning the way the pickup will sound is the way that it was wound.

In order to wind the wire the pickup builder must traverese the wire vack and forth around the revovlvig bobbin that is attached to the pickup winder.

The way that the wire is traversed across the width of the bobbin can change and determine the tone of the pickup.

When you hit a string the signal is generated through the coil of the pickup, and that signal is actually a certain range of frequencies.

A coil also acts as a capacitor which sends to the ground some of the frequencies, just like a guitar’s tone knob.

This value is known as capacitance.

Now, the way the coil is wound can change the coil capacitance.

With a high capacitance value, there will be less mid and treble and with a low capacitance there will be a fuuler spectrum of frequencies with better mids and highs.

The coil’s capacitance is determined by how it was wound—that is, by the traverse pattern created on the revolving bobbin.

If the coil is wound over the bobbin uniformly from side to side, there will be a higher capacitance and, therefore, lower mids and highs. While a scattered wound will lead to lower capacitance and little loss if any) of treble in mid.

In that way, various types of patterns, such as “wild” and heavily scattered coil or tight winding, will affect various aspects of the tone. In conclusion, a scattered pattern will result in more presence, clarity, and character.

In that way, an experienced pickup builder can control the overall sound.

With all of my designs and pickups, I’m looking for a broad spectrum of frequencies with a bell-like tone—a musical pickup that can transfer the overtones and delicate details of the string’s signal.

The Electrotone Pickup

The first offering in my lineup is the Electrotone pickup, meticulously crafted to replicate the exceptional sound of the renowned Lipstick pickups. These pickups adorned the guitars of iconic musicians like Jimmy Page and Stevie Ray Vaughan. I meticulously produce these pickups using the rare Alnico 6 magnet, employing a sand-cast process to match the original’s alloy and dimensions precisely. Using the appropriate 42 AWG plain enamel copper wire, I wind it directly onto the magnet without a bobbin,

 mirroring the construction of the originals. These pickups stand out for their distinctiveness; boasting brightness and an expanded frequency spectrum, they excel at capturing the acoustic nuances of my instruments. To ensure longevity, I fabricate sturdy brass covers in-house, as the original covers are prone to cracking over time. The inclusion of brass adds a touch of warmth to the pickups due to its inductance. In my humble opinion, pairing these pickups in series produces one of the finest guitar tones imaginable.

The Electrotone Lipstick Pickups Demos

The Dual Electrotone Humbucker

The next variant in my collection is the Dual Electrotone humbucker, specially tailored for the Underdog model. This innovative design features two single-coil lipsticks, each equipped with its magnet serving as pole pieces, a departure from the single magnet configuration typical in traditional humbuckers.

These pickups offer a broad range of tones with enhanced clarity and articulation, surpassing the performance of standard humbuckers. Whether aiming for pristine, clean tones or saturated, overdriven sounds, these pickups deliver exceptional detail, harmonics, and overtones that rival even the most revered classic humbuckers.

The Dual Electrotone Humbuckers Demos

The Stapletron Humbuckers.

these were made after I’ve heard the great Ry Cooder playing a guitar equipped with stapled humbuckers from the 60s.

Crafting my own rendition of these pickups was a meticulous endeavor that demanded considerable time and effort. These pickups strive to capture the timeless essence of vintage humbuckers while offering a broader tonal palette and a distinctive bell-like signature tone. 

Ideal for classic blues, they possess an exceptionally musical character coupled with the tonal advantages typically associated with classic single coils.

To enhance warmth, I’ve meticulously designed and cast my own brass hardware. Additionally, I’ve engineered special pole pieces to generate a larger magnetic field, further shaping the unique tonal characteristics of this exceptional humbucker.

The Stapletron Humbuckers Demos