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Vintage threads from the first ten years

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Re: Dave's in VG

11/29/2005 2:50 AM
Dave Stephens Re: Dave's in VG
Greg, are you bringing that GA-20 back to the jam? I miss that sweet thang.......
11/29/2005 5:17 PM
Greg Simon
Sorry Dave, its back with my uncle in Washington now. You'll have to settle for the Silvertone or your Deluxe.  
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11/29/2005 8:24 AM
Sheldon Dingwall

Regular small backpages ads as follow up should keep the interest up. I'm not a regular reader of VG so forgive me if you're already doing that.
11/29/2005 9:44 AM
Mark Hammer
VG tends to do builder profiles of people who already advertise. On the one hand it IS kind of a scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours deal, verging on "advertainment", to have such collusion between the advertising department and content. At the same time, many of the small companies that do advertise in the back are complete mysteries to the readers, and I'm sure many of them are eager to peg some sort of imaginable reality onto a website or 1/16th page ad. Of course, it's no different in that regard than any of the factory tour photo-essays of major companies that Guitar Player regularly has.  
Some 20 years ago, I found out that Evans pickups were made near where I was living, and stopped by the place hoping to buy some polepieces. I was surprised to find it was 2 guys working small machines in a small 2-rooms-and-a-closet office space. A similar stop at the IVL company (they made the Pitchrider, and a few other early instrument-to-MIDI devices) and the Bigsby factory (where Ted McCarty himself gave me a tour) provided a fascinating behind the scenes look, and very different image of how such companies operate.  
Incidentally, I'll just add that when you actually SEE people at work, it makes it that much harder to feel good about anything that even verges on them being deprived of income. Especially when you realize there are folks working there who are simply salaried employees that need the work and regular paycheck to live, not just some "boo-teek designer" who you may feel thinks too much of themselves.
11/29/2005 11:39 AM

I hope I can offer some of my own experience here:  
I was fortunate to meet up with a journalist a while back who was doing an article on making pickups and bagged a 4 page article. The business generated by this was kind of on the scale that Dave mentioned. But you know, people ring up months later having read the article and place orders. I didn't follow up with adverts and often wonder if I should have but I have to bear the following in mind:  
1) I still do the day job so spare time's limited.  
2) Guitar manufacturers will ring and give you an enormous buzz because they want your pickups....but at a price that'll bankrupt you.  
3) Existing repeat customers think you'll shit out on them and concentrate on new customers.  
4) Everyone and his dog will ring up for pickups and claim to be in the trade and thus want trade prices.  
A good friend of mine started to make guitars and do repairs 20 years ago. A good deal of people wouldn't give him the time of day then. But he kept chiping away and now is THE man to go to. I know he's not short of money anymore. Quite the opposite.  
Oh and I've been mentioned in Guitar magazine at least 8 times now which has always generated more business. Still I have never advertized.  
I find it's most important to look after repeat customers. They'll spread the word better than anything.  
I also get involved with signed artists. I do a deal. They get special pickups at a cost price in return for which I get a mention on the next album insert. You have to do a lot of legwork and sometimes it seems frustrating but it makes your reputation and these guys will network throughout their label.  
As a word of caution though, you have to be able to recognize a lost cause. Some of the guys you'd love to have using your product will be very blinkered. They'll be loyal to a brand regardless of anything you say. Cracking these guys is hard and you have to decide if it's worth it or not.  
But on the bright side, you've got into a great magazine that's worldwide. That's a big achievement that others would dream of. Congrats!
12/2/2005 7:17 AM
Dave Stephens
Well I am a "booteek" winder, whatever that word really means. I too have a "nite" job (I sleep in the day) but its in graphics and if you want to starve go to design school and then find out that career field is a dead zone. So, besides making pickups for money, its something that I love alot too. I am a one dude biz here, its all done in an upstairs room where my computer is surrounded by two winders alot of wire and mess and guitars everywhere. I haven't had any suppliers or manufacturers call me up for anything :-) One guy I never heard of Kalik guitars wanting to know my wholesale prices but my wholesale prices are high because I don't get big discounts on bulk parts and wire etc. because I can only buy in smaller quantities of everything and there's only so many pickups I can make in a week. And I won't sell pickups to some guitar company I know nothing about, whether they make junk or good stuff.  
The article is actually working really well and the orders are stacking up, this Xmas I'll be winding full time until I have to get back to work on album design stuff for Shrapnel.  
Yes repeat customers are the best, they have spread the word and I treat them right, and they come back regularly. The customers that I like the least but don't seem to get any of (yet) are the types that haunt the forums like the tele forum, les Paul , Fender etc. who compete with eachother to see who can hoard the most pickups from the "star" pickup makers like Hamel and a few others. I got one guy like that and he seemed more interested in talking my ear off about the star pickup makers he's bought from and talked toetc. etc. I could tell by how he talked that he probably wasn't a very good guitar player. Of course I was nice to him and he bought something that wasn't really suited for what he really needed and I basically wrecked a $200 pickup butchering it to make it fit something it was never intended to work in and eventually gave him his money back. But he is still a good customer and corresponds off and on and alerted me to some good threads on the tele forum where I learned more about the black guard tele pickups.  
As for Vintage Guitar Magazine yes they do profiles and reviews of their advertisers and it works well, I make money I buy bigger ads. But they also don't do articles on gear or people they think aren't doing quality stuff. They did the article as an apology for leaving me out of the PAF shootout article, and I complained and they apologized and said they'd do a profile article and to send them some pickups to try out. So in my opinion they are very fair and sure aren't going to publish articles proclaiming that some piece of garbage gear is any good if it isn't.  
Having Shrapnel Records as my last and only grahic design client I have access to the best guitar players on this planet. And you betcha those guys almost all have endorsement deals with big companies who supply them with free junk. Scott Henderson is one guy I approached and unfortunately he is stuck on noiseless pickups, and is now delighted with Suhr's product. Jake E Lee is using my stuff now and our next album with him will probably have my pickups involved, but the guys who are still much in the public eye don't want to hear about it. John 5 I did his package and he doesn't even respond to my offers of freebie pickups to try out, its kinda funny he's in the same issue of VG my article is in, nice guy but he's in Fender's pocket I think. There are alot of these famous guys who since they can get all that big pickup manufacturer stuff for free, they have never tried a handcrafted hand wound product so they don't know what they're missing, for real. Nick Curran I was able to put a guitar in his hands when the Thunderbirds came to our jam and he loved the pickups, and I sent him a free set to use, but then some of these wonder guitar players are uh, flakey, hard to pin down, attention defecit types, if its in front of them they react, if it isn't then its not in their world. So in a way, pursuing the famous guys isn't really going to get you alot of orders at the level I am working in. I don't get the Steve Vai rocker types, those guys all want store bought junk with endorsement ads, they just don't have a clue about crafted pickups, oh well. So far its more important that I treat every customer like a guitar star, don't ever argue with them or say anything negative , and that builds more business than having a couple famous players use the stuff I think. I have a contact in Japan and he keeps telling me to get famous players to use the stuff and run ads with their names, that doesn't appeal to me, and when I had EMG as a client they used to call guitar players who endorse anything that walks by the front door "guitar whores" and you would sometimes see the same players endorsing two different companies making guitars for instance, pretty embarrassing for the companies involved, and of course those guys wouldn't play that stuff on stage either :-)
12/6/2005 11:52 AM

Cool beans on the VG thing Dave! You deserve the great press. I can't understand why some guys settle for the big name pups when stellar tone is so close at hand. Oh well...I guess you can lead a horse to water......
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