Vintage Vibe Guitars
How did you originally get into
Years Building: 11
Average Wait: less than 2 weeks
Starting At: $174/set
I started building guitars and pickups back
in 1998. I have always been interested in
fabrication technology and after looking
closely at the pickups in my guitars I saw
that there was room for innovation. This
opportunity for me was almost irresistible,
as I very much enjoy the challenge of design
and fabrication. When I was a younger, I
made my own surfboards, windsurf boards,
windsurfing sails and other things. I even
made a composite tennis racket once! I just
love making things.
What’s your philosophy regarding
We tailor the pickup design and carefully
select the materials of construction to
work in harmony to achieve a specific tone
goal… we also incorporate features in the
pickups, such as grounded shielding, to
keep the noise from external sources to
a minimum, because we believe a player
deserves both great tone and low noise.
Do you scatterwind your pickups? What
does that do for the tone of the pickup?
Yes, all of the pickup coils I make are scatterwound.
After hand-winding coils for
quite a while, I developed a cam-driven
mechanical system that guides the coil wire
back and forth in a random manner that
accurately reproduces hand winding. Using
this system I can make scatterwound coils
that are very uniform in their degree of
“imperfection.” The result of scatterwinding
is a more musical-sounding pickup.
You offer a wide range of options for
players looking to fill a single-coil spot
on their instrument—could you walk us
through a few of the options and the
materials you’re using?
We offer a very wide range of pickups for
most popular instruments. For Strat- and Telestyle
guitars, we have single-coil pickups with
Alnico rod magnets, blade-style single coils,
and P-90-style single-coils with adjustable
poles. We also make stacked humbucking
pickups and dual-blade humbucking pickups
for both the Strat and Tele. In the P-90 format
(soapbar and dogear) we offer single-coil pickup
designs with adjustable-height polepieces,
designs with Alnico rod magnets, blade-style
and stacked humbucking pickups. We use several
grades of Alnico magnets (II, III and V) and
ceramic magnets in our products. Wire gauges
range from the large diameter AWG-38 to
very fine AWG-46. We stock coil wire with a
variety of insulation types, including enamel,
Formvar and polysol.
Your SP-90 seems like a fairly revolutionary
design—can you tell us more about that?
Yes, I have had a few “revelations” over the
years. I started out making single-coil pickups
for Stratocasters and Telecasters; these tend
to be reasonably simple from a design and
fabrication standpoint. P-90-style pickups were
a turning point for me. Prior to working on a
P-90 design, I had not fully appreciated the
tone a P-90-style single-coil pickup can generate.
Over the years, my version of the P-90
design changed to include grounded shielding
to reduce noise from external AC electric fields,
and now the capability to change magnets.
Following this, I developed a version of the
P-90 design that fits into a standard plastic
cover designed for a strat-size single-coil pickup.
I call this pickup design the SP-90; it has
been one of my best-selling standard models.
What makes your pickups unique,
compared to some of the other boutique
pickup options available?
Our products are unique from the ground up.
We do not sell any pickups that are made using
injection-molded plastic bobbins. One hundred
percent of the pickups we make are designed
and fabricated in our shop. Over the years we
have developed and refined a family of pickups
that are designed to allow the owner to change
the magnets. In these pickups the magnets are
held in place using threaded fasteners, rather
than being glued into the assembly. This unique
capability to change magnets provides the
customer with the capability to tune the tone
and output of a pickup to suit a specific instrument
or musical style by changing the magnet
type. When the capability of changing magnets
is coupled with a shielded output cable, which
has independent leads for the coil start and coil
finish, the pickups can be made to be reverse
wound, reverse polarity (RWRP) with respect to
any other pickup. In effect, the user can change
both the magnetic field direction and effective
What kinds of feedback are you
receiving from customers?
It generally falls into two categories. Quite
often a customer will send me an email immediately
after receiving a set of my pickups
and let me know how well built the pickups
look. People have told me that the construction
and design features set my pickups apart
from others. Let me give you an example: in a
conventional Strat-style single-coil pickup the
fine magnet wire exits the coil in two locations
(coil start and coil finish). Each of these delicate
wires go to a brass grommet, where the output
leads are soldered. This exposed length of fine
coil wire on top of the bobbin bottom flange
can be damaged by handling and make the
pickup non-functional. In the single-coil pickups
we make for Strats and Teles, we add a wire
shield over the area between the coil and the
grommets that protects these delicate wires.
This wire shield not only protects them, but
also makes the pickup look like a thoughtfully
The second type of feedback I receive from
customers has to do with tone. It has been very
gratifying for me to hear that my pickups have
transformed guitars that collected dust into
favorite instruments. I also hear quite often that
people play more because of the great tone
they’re getting from their pickups. That’s the
kind of feedback that really makes my day!