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Custom Pickups vendor suggestions?

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by rubendlr, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. rubendlr


    Mar 10, 2012
    Austin, TX, USA
    So I am considering some pickups for a custom build. I am hearing scary things about both SGD and Reed James. So aside from Curtis Novak, who is someone that can get to make something really different? I hear Jason Lollar is great but he has a very limited selection. Same for Joe Barden. Not a lot of stuff outside P/J fare. Suggestions? Is the custom shop from some of the big guys able to do some really unique stuff?
  2. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    What do you mean by unique?

    Is it the form factor? The sound? The string spacing or number of strings?

    Aero is more or less totally custom but their actual pickups designs are relatively traditional in nature if you're looking for Neo magnet designs or blades etc.

    Delano's Xtenders are pretty different.

    Nordstrand can be really accommodating with custom stuff if what you want is doable with their designs.

    Q-tuners might be worth checking out.

    Of course EMG & Bartolini still have lots of sizes & options.

    And theoretically SGD pickups are going to be offered by Best Bass Gear so you could but them in stock.

    Other than Q-tuner I have experience with all of those brands.
  3. Doesn't Seymour Duncan have a custom shop service?
  4. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    Joe Barden has the worst customer service I've ever experienced. I've had great service from SGD but others have not.
  5. Teacher


    May 3, 2012
    There's also Rio Grande.
  6. rubendlr


    Mar 10, 2012
    Austin, TX, USA
    I like blades because I don't want worry about string spacing and I like the look. So again Joe Barden is the guy but he only has P and J (and Ric) shapes. I would like MM or 35 sized bladed PUs or real skinny stick soapbars. Note that the blades don't have to be visible they can be under a solid cover.

    Anyway, I've looked at Delanos and they look promising. After everything I really like their JSBC 4 HE. I think it would be a great alternative to the J style pickup. But, here's the rub - I am going to do a build from parts. The most stuff that I am going to do would be the electronics and the finishing. I am not up yet to full on routing by myself but with bestbassgears routing templates I'd might try it on a really cheap body (think basswood or paulownia) and then I can save it from any screw ups if needs be with a pickguard. Funny thing is it seems that this size pickup is only one they don't have a template for, they even have them for the xtenders. Sheesh, can't get a break. They have one for the similar X style Bartolini, though.

    I also like the aesthetics of the Lace Music's Alumitone bass bars. Those are pretty much rails there. It looks like they may fit EMG routes. Comments? Anyone have any real world experience with those? I love to give them a whirl. I'd love to here from my fellow bassists/hobbist builders.
  7. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    Bartolini pickps use rails, and come in all the sizes you are looking for...MM, 35, and skinny soapbar.
  8. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    Aguilar's new DCB pickups come in Bartolini & EMG shapes and might be worth checking out.

    I have a bass with a custom pair of Delano DJC 5 HEs and they are great pickups. I can definitely recommend their blade designs.
  9. I have used Nordstrands for multiple custom pickups they are quite accommodating! They also have blade pickups now!
  10. Dogghouse


    Jan 25, 2011
    Santa Barbara
    Bass Guy @ Seymour Duncan
    Just to make sure the question is answered, Seymour Duncan does have a Custom Shop. And it is still run and wound by either Seymour, MJ (30 years working next to Seymour) and Seymour's son, Derek. Kevin Beller (VP Engineering over 30 years) also helps out with the bass work and designs.
    HosMan and WyreAndWood like this.
  11. Arvin

    Arvin Underwound Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    On the bench
    Pete Biltoft: www.vintagevibeguitars.com

    He can make just about anything you want -- much more than his website reflects. If you email him, he can give you more ideas. His customer service is excellent, as well.
  12. reep


    Sep 24, 2006
    Duncan B.C.Canada
    I've been using a custom builder in Vancouver called Reilander Custom Guitar. He produces a line of custom winds for guitars and basses, but he'll also do custom orders. He recently did a three-tap single coil for my 59 Esquire, and is currently doing a hybrid- Strat single coil and P90 side-by-side in a Filtertron casing - for the bridge of my custom Thinline Cabronita. If you want something really unique, Mike's the guy you need to talk to.

  13. rubendlr


    Mar 10, 2012
    Austin, TX, USA
    Thanks everyone for your input. I have a lot to consider. Hope to have this one done by the end of the summer.
  14. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    Rio Grande are awesome, but I don't believe they do custom work. It would be worth an inquiry though, their pickups are amazing.

    I have only come across one thread about Reed James that was negative, and the matter was resolved. Jim was great in my experience with him. That being said, if you are not 100% confident with him, don't buy from him.
  15. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    I hear Lindy Fralin does great work.
  16. 4Mal

    4Mal Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Yep. Pete is at leadt two steps ahead of everybody else, particularly when it comes to custom... Then he's more or less in a league of his own.
  17. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic

    Mar 20, 2011
    Spokane, Washington
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    I had a good experience with Patrick Michael at JankTone. In the end, I didn't buy from him because what I wanted was not something he felt he could do a perfect job on (his recommendation), but I really appreciated his personal attention and attention to detail.
  18. Johnny F

    Johnny F

    Jul 15, 2011
    Another vote for Pete Biltoft. He made a very nice pup for my EB0, and I have one of his pups in my P bass that he made with alnico 2 magnets to take some harshness out.
  19. Arvin

    Arvin Underwound Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2008
    On the bench
    I inquired with RG about custom work a few years back, and the guy on the other end of the phone came unhinged and went on quite a rant about how customers just need to accept stock models, quit expecting custom features, etc. After a couple minutes of that, I thanked him for his time and moved on.

    So, no -- they don't do custom work.
  20. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Oh really? Pete's a good guy...he fixed my Realistic violin bass pickups a couple years ago. Might have to contact him about that if I ever get to restoring my Eb-0 like I said I would last week.