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Pickup makers annoy me!

9/10/2002 12:35 PM
Pickup makers annoy me!
Why all the secrecy? This is the only field I've ever been involved in where EVERYTHING seems to be secret. Anything from designs (which makes sense to some degree) to suppliers.  
I've got aquaintances/ contacts to the top of a few of the big companies and they still won't share info. They won't even sell pieces parts to another maker even though the markup would be huge for them. I understand they may well have had to have thier own mold made at a cost of many thousands, but now it costs them pennies per part and I'm willing to pay dollars/. I know it's not a big market, but come-on...It's not like I'll be destroying Duncans market share..  
Honestly, I think it's largely due to how easy it is to do a reasonable job of making pickups. That, or they don't want you to know they import all thier stuff for cheap.  
I got lucky, when I first started out I hooked up with Wolfe, and thru him Jason and a few others. Many of us share information and pool resources and it makes things better/easier/cheaper for us. But there's stuff we still can't get/afford and I know there's a supplier somewhere...
9/10/2002 1:57 PM

I too found it almost impossible to get any info, untill I stumbled across the old forum. All the guys there ( and now here) gave me heaps of gret advice.  
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9/10/2002 3:09 PM
Dr Strangelove

SK wrote:
"Why all the secrecy? This is the only field I've ever been involved in where EVERYTHING seems to be secret."
The emperor has no clothes except for a Speedo thong.  
When you strip away the marketing hype, a great deal of electric guitar parts and accessories are simple things that you can often make yourself (although it takes time to perfect your skills). That's the secret: it's simple stuff.  
If you are a one man business and build simple things, but if it's your ONLY business, you might want to protect it very jealously since it puts the food on your table. Sometimes, if your business is successful and becomes larger, but still under 50 or so employees, you hang on to the small business mindset of secrecy.  
You need look no farther than the boutique effects pedal business for examples - there are endless trivial variations on the Ibanez Tube Screamer, yet they are closely guarded secrets.  
Sometimes information is free if you know where to look. The US Patent Office and Delphion web sites have lots of guitar pickup designs under "musical instrument transducer" or "variable reluctance transducer" or some mixture. Exploded diagrams are the norm on patents, so they make for accessible reading.  
Dimarzio has aggressively patented almost everything they ever made; Dimarzio and his head engineer Blucher turn up a lot in pickup patent searches.  
Parts are a different matter. Except for the magnets and wire, TV Jones builds every part of the pickup himself. He has to.  
Anybody know where I can get bobbins for blade pickups? No way am I calling AGI-Lace or Bill Lawrence. The former would just laugh at me and clam up while the latter would talk my ear off and never get around to the subject of bobbins.  
The established bigger pickup makers kind of annoy me too, but I see where they are coming from.  
9/11/2002 5:00 PM
Frank DeSalvo Bill Lawrence annoys me!
"Anybody know where I can get bobbins for blade pickups? No way am I calling AGI-Lace or Bill Lawrence. The former would just laugh at me and clam up while the latter would talk my ear off and never get around to the subject of bobbins."
I see you've talked to Bill, then! I once called him to order some p'ups and he got off track and talked about the differences b/t the american and german education system! At the end of the 35 minute speech, i forgot I was ordering pickups and hung up with the most puzzling feeling in my gut!  
Bill is a nice guy, though
9/10/2002 7:47 PM
Re: Pickup makers annoy me!
It's exactly this reason why I agreed to do the pickup makers forum, and to help with people like you, Dave, Randy, and the rest.  
Sure, later on I may have stepped on my own feet by doing this (IE: the willful creation of competition) but the alliance that has formed between us has proven to be a great thing...I mean, individually, we stood a great chance of going broke (I know I was--and still am!) And together, we've pretty much managed to bring things into the realm of affordability. Yes, we might be putting out more money at a time, but we're sure as hell getting a lot more bang for our buck!  
By the way, I'm awaiting quotes from Hill Metal Stamping, about stampipng out HB baseplates and keeper bars, and doing HB slugs and a bobbin mould as well. HB polepieces and plates should be the next priority, cause we'll all have an assload of bobbins and not enough polepieces!  
9/10/2002 8:04 PM

Hey Wolfe,  
I really don't think we will ever oversaturate the market. Guitar players never seem happy for long. always looking for "something else". Often it's the players without the talent to sound good anyways. Actually though, I find most of the people I sell to have been playing for a very long time and are looking for "thier tone" instead of some elusive myth. I don't mean to be derisive towards guitarists, Hell I used to be that way too. There was always the hope there was something that would make me sound better (since I lacked talent, I had to look somewhere...) Now I realize I've got very good gear for what I like, I just suck...
9/10/2002 10:06 PM
Jason Lollar

Thats the exact reason I wrote that book on it, got P-O'd and spilled the beans. Same thing, got some rude answers about where to buy some parts.  
Beleive it or not its started more businesses than I ever imagined and started hundreds of people winding, probably more, and it hasnt hurt my business one bit.  
You see lots of books on guitar making and amp servicing and lots of small makers and they arent getting into price slashing competition so why should making pickups be any different? Fooling around and making some pickups is entirely different than running a business anyway.
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