Some Thoughts About Custom Made Lipstick Pickups

handmade pickups

The original lipstick guitar pickup in my humble opinion is one of the best sounding pickups ever produced.

This single-coil magnetic guitar pickup has one of the best pickup designs. With it’s slick and futuristic lipstick cover it suits perfectly the Atomic Age or Space age futuristic style of the 1950’s.

The lipstick-tube pickup was first introduced as the ingenious work of Nat Daniel, founder of Danelectro guitars. He was using real surplus lipstick tubes for his creation.
The main difference between a traditional guitar pickup and a lipstick pickup is the lack of a plastic or fiber bobbin as a form for winding its coil.
The original lipstick-tube pickup has its coil wrapped around an alnico VI bar magnet and then wrapped in tape on vintage units, before being inserted into the metal tube casing.

custom pickups

When I came to design the Thunder Child Guitar I wanted to use Lipstick pickups that were similar to the original ones. What seemed to be an easy task became an obsession because all the aftermarket pickups I’ve found didn’t possess the same classic/ vintage tone I was after. It took me a long time to find Mr. Doug Tulloch who creates an accurate replica of these sonic wonders.
Since the original lipstick pickups are quite wide, at 3.22 in (8.18 cm) overall. They cannot be retrofitted into a standard strat style guitar without removing plastic from the pickguard and wood from the guitar body. As a result of this, the standard aftermarket lipstick pickup replacements use shorter magnets.

lipstick pickups
According to Doug Tulloch form Nep-Tone pickups, The heart of the pickup is the magnet. “I use correct full-size Alnico 6 magnets special ordered from a U.S. manufacturer to my specs. Based on an original 1959 era magnet. Each magnet is then friction taped before winding exactly as the originals were. The best available vintage correct 42 AWG “Plain Enamel” coil wire is used, and most importantly, its wound directly onto the magnet. This is a step most others avoid due to how difficult it is to do. They’ll use smaller magnets {of the wrong type}, thinner incorrect gauge coil wire, and a P-90 bobbin to mount the magnet in and wind on. All incorrect. I also use high-quality N.O.S. “New Old Stock” brass-drawn chrome plated Lipstick tube covers, and the vintage style aluminum mounting brackets are all made custom in-house on the very jigs pickup designer Tom Holmes designed/built for Jerry Jones Guitars.”

handmade pickups

Another option that we use here at Tone Revival guitars is also our handmade thick brass lipstick pickup covers. We create heirloom quality instruments and the original style thin brass covers simply don’t last, so here you can see the disassembly of an original lipstick pickup from the 1950’s and the thick replacement hand made brass covers.

This is the actual process of me trying to fit an original one from the 1950’s into our own cast brass covers.
On the other photo, you can also see the inside of Doug Tulloch’s Nep tone lipsticks which is the same as the original ones.
Each pickup is 100% handmade according to our specifications.

lipstick pickup

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