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SGD pickups : David Schwab's issues with taking money and not delivering

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by john turner, Dec 22, 2013.

  1. Axstar


    Jul 8, 2016
    East of Eden.
    I think that's giving him too much credit. I don't think he was that well grounded in reality. More of a delusional narcissist, who lapsed into thievery. His excuses were just too weird and terrible to wash with anybody. In his own head he clearly thought the divorce/children/broken limbs/homeless stuff was going to buy him extra time and get people off his back!

    There have been other luthiers, cab and amp builders (etc) who have either taken ridiculously long or totally failed to deliver. Being adept at making things doesn't automatically give you any sort of business skills, and some of these guys are just plain funny in the head. Ed Roman (RIP) made some phenomenally tacky instruments, pulled off some shady business moves and did some really hacky and insensitive luthiery while he was still alive. He also farted out pages and pages of crude html hatespeech on any given subject. There is a luthier called Zachary that is equally crazy. Neither ever got the memo to let the product speak for itself.

    I backed out of a deal on a bass with an SGD pickup fitted. I'm sure it was a good pickup, but I'm not sure I want that black hole of karma in my house!
    Sixgunn likes this.
  2. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Thank you for this. I'm not personally involved, so I wasn't about to read all 152 pages!

    Condolences to those of you waiting. Similar condolences to all the honest/reliable small builders out there who might be losing business because bad actors such as this are scaring them away.
    staccatogrowl and wcriley like this.
  3. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    If anyone wants cheering up, I invite you to peruse a PDF of what was probably the funniest entire magazine issue I had read in my young adult life when it first came out. One of the characters and the butt of all kinds of torture by the main teenage characters was a Schwab, which I can't help remembering this every time this thread reappeared. Apologies for being off topic and to the good Schwabs out there in the world.

    Re-reading it now is interesting, any national magazine aimed at teenagers would be a lot more PC now than it was it the '70s.

    National Lampoon, Welcome to the Utterly Monstrous, Mind Roasting Summer of O.C. and Stiggs :

    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017
    GregC, Trabeen, JimmyM and 3 others like this.
  4. Papazita


    Jun 27, 2008
    Axstar, BlueTalon, slowburnaz and 2 others like this.
  5. EddiePlaysBass


    Feb 26, 2009
  6. Schwab never had that Dingwall in his hands, he just stole that picture off the net somewhere, it belongs to FullRangeBass, he's a member here and on the Dingwall forum, that's what the FRB is short for, Sheldon customized it for him, he has probably bought more Dingwalls then anyone so Sheldon goes the extra mile with his builds I'm sure.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
  7. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    Many (most?) of the photos Schwab posted in the Pickup Makers forum were either lifted from the net or, if they were taken by him, were taken long before he started building pickups commercially...even during the time frame when he was supposedly building/selling pickups for/to the general public. The photos he posted in that forum of instruments he supposedly built, repaired, or modified were taken LONG before his pickup making endeavors.
  8. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    For those of you who thought SGD pickups were great:
    They may have been, but there could not have been much consistency from one pickup to the next. He guided and tensioned the wire onto the bobbins by hand. His winder was powered by a drill. Based on the few photos he posted in the Pickup Makers forum, his bobbins were crudely made...roughly cut from pieces of circuit board glued to the top and bottom of the steel pole pieces (often cut from generic steel bars from Lowes or Hone Depot). The only thing "professional" looking that he posted were the covers with the SGD logo that he outsourced.
    Sixgunn likes this.
  9. MPU


    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    Well that's not true. David used premade bobbins most of the time and the bobbin itself has nothing to do with the pickup quality. Have a look at Lane Poor bobbins for example. Made of circuit board and afaik those pickups are highly graded. Hand guiding and tensioning works just fine. It's preferred by some pickup buyers as it's the way old Fender pickups were made. As long as you have accurate counter on your winder it can be powered with anything. David used Schatten winder powered with cordless drill. Steel used in pickup has nothing magical, it's just steel. Usually cheap steel has no other metals alloyed and is magnetically suitable for pickups. He knows a lot about pickups and has the skills to make great pickups. His business model just sucks big time. I'm not defending David's actions but it's not fair to say something that's not true.
    Will_White and slowburnaz like this.
  10. wcriley


    Apr 5, 2010
    Western PA
    I stand somewhat corrected: He did mention a few times that he was buying prebuilt bobbins.
    But the photo he often posted showed one he'd poorly cut/shaped out of perfboard-type circuit board material. He seemed to be proud of it, despite the janky appearance.

    I mentioned the drill-driven winder only as an example of how amateurish/janky his construction methods were.
    While I agree that some people seem to prefer hand guided/tensioned pickups, it's nearly impossible to be consistent from one coil to next without a LOT of practice and experience...something that, based on the small number of pickups Schwab seems to have ever sold, he didn't have.

    There is a lot more to making consistent sounding pickups than the total number of turns. Lack of consistency was the main point of my post.

    The steel (and other magnetically or electrically conductive material) is a major contributor to the "sound" of a pickup. By definition, steel always contains "other metals alloyed", otherwise it would be just iron. And the types and amounts of these alloys in pole pieces, base plates, different grades of alnico, etc., have a major influence on the "sound" of pickups. There is no way of knowing that the generic steel Schwab was using for blades was consistent, but it's not likely.

    Sorry for the disruption. I'll leave now.
  11. MPU


    Sep 21, 2004
    Valkeala Finland
    Have you made many pickups to back up your facts on materials and winding techniques? I don't find it difficult to wind consistent coils with hand feed and simple clamp tensioner. I got the impression that David has made quite a number of pickups and judging by the look of his coils his coils were fine. I guess the perfboard pickup you're referring is his multicoil prototype from -80 or so. That's the only perfboard pickup I remember he showed.
  12. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I agree with @MPU on this one. Plenty of the most sought after pickups are hand wound, if your technique is sound you will achieve consistent results. The fact that his winder is powered by a drill is no big deal either. A drill is nothing but an electric motor with a gear reduction, as long as his winder spins true and the counter is accurate I fail to see why it matters what powers is. The aesthetics of his bobbins do not matter at all considering his pickups were epoxy potted.

    David is a thief and a liar, that's bad enough, but I don't think anyone here ever questioned his products quality.
    Will_White likes this.
  13. Stevorebob

    Stevorebob Well... I Am Here, Aren't I? Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2011
    Los Angeles
    That’s the shame of it all. So much promise squandered.
    BlueTalon likes this.
  14. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 17, 2010
    Houston Tx
    Owner/Builder @Hopkins Guitars
    I still think drugs played a big part in his down fall
  15. KJMO


    Feb 6, 2015
    Fwiw, I think that's why people bring up his personal choices. He was/is a mess, which is why he's not able to function in a reasonable manner. Symptoms related to whatever his core problem is. Or poor choices cascading into more poor choices...whatever. It's just a mess.
  16. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Big Dogs Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
  17. mmbongo

    mmbongo Dilly Dilly! Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    I think David was summed up best on the Fargo finale this week.

    "He's like a fire door that leads to another fire."
  18. fjadams


    Jun 7, 2011
    Danbury, CT
    The problem came down to quantity, not quality.
  19. staccatogrowl

    staccatogrowl Location: Spinning, shimmery aqueous sphere Supporting Member

    Jul 14, 2006
    For those wishing to quibble about mythical quality of SGD Lutherie / David Schwab / SGD Pickups, consider this. Many Talkbass members paid plenty and received nothing. In this case quantity = 0, and subsequent quality = 0.

    On a scale of 1 to 100, with 1 being worst and 100 being best, SGD Lutherie / David Schwab / SGD Pickups are lower in quality than the worst of anything that was actually made.
  20. bwoodman

    bwoodman Supporting Member

    I hope everybody is looking at all the other options for pups - and there are many now.

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