Materials & Craftsmanship

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Since 1976 we've been developing suppliers for the exact materials used by pickup makers in the ‘50s and ‘60s. When you are looking for a pickup based on a vintage design, we don’t just create copies, we’d like to think the pickup you are getting from us is the same as the one you would have gotten back then. Our humbucker molds are made by the same company that made the original PAF bobbin. We’ve amassed over 12 grades of magnets and a stack of wire gauges all the way from 45 to 20 gauge. Our insulations include poly, heavy poly, plain enamel and heavy Formvar. We have hundreds of flatwork options, including bone grey which was used in our Antiquity series. We’ve spent decades perfecting how to combine these materials to make a tone that matches the one you dream about.

120712-112.jpgWe don’t just settle for close enough. We’ve spent years working to find the perfect parts, shades and materials. There are some details that no one would ever notice, but getting those right matters to us. Our covers are made out of nickel silver because our testing showed that it didn’t affect the tone and because it had been historically used. Our factory is a full machine shop; we make all our own parts, do our own injection molding and use only the finest materials we can acquire. 

120710-335.jpgThere are things we do that some say wouldn't even affect the tone, but we do it because we want to be 100% true to the way it was done in the old days. The square hole in a humbucker and the tooling marks around that hole, maple spacers, pigtail on the inside of the coil, carbon-dyed black wax, the list goes on. When we decided to do the Staple P-90 we spent a small fortune tooling everything up so we would know it would be just as the original. Seymour was fascinated with recreating this pickup and despite the cost we set out to tool up, find the perfect screws, brass height adjusters, bottom plates, covers and magnets. By the end, our Phat Staple P-90 looked and sounded the same as one we had from 1955.

derek-017.jpgSome pickups like the Charlie Christian take a tremendous amount of machining, followed by gluing and sanding and polishing. They are also hand wound, which takes longer than normal. The screws supplied with those is the only part that can be bought. Even the hookup wire is sourced by one of Seymour’s buddies who collects old speakers. He buys old electronics from the '30s for the speakers, he cuts out all the wiring and gives it to us. If we are making a reproduction of a pickup from a certain era, or if we're doing a rewind, we have hundreds of pieces of all sorts or insulated vintage wire, in all sorts of colors, gauges and styles.

It’s the small details that most people overlook in a rush, but a pickup can last a lifetime and can add to the value and look - and completely transform the tone - of an instrument. Our commitment to every player who comes to the Custom Shop is to have all their expectations fulfilled and to be able to feel that rush of excitement that goes with being able to capture that tone you've been chasing.


Derek Duncan

Custom Shop Manager