Lollar Pickups Blog

Welcome to the Lollar Pickups Blog, where we discuss in detail the finer points of Lollar Pickups and share the latest news from the Workbench.

The Phoenix: A Collaboration between Scott Walker, Steve Kimock, John Cutler, and Jason Lollar

A special review of the new Phoenix, built by Scott Walker Guitars:

Lollar Blade Style pickups are featured on the "Phoenix"

Lollar Blade Style pickups are featured on the "Phoenix"

We wish Scott Walker, of Scott Walker Guitars, the best of luck with one of his newest releases – the Phoenix. This project actually started in 2007 with Scott and Steve Kimock, and a conversation about guitar ergonomics. Some time later in that ongoing conversation Steve contacted Jason to seek some advice about pickup design. Jason recalls that Steve had some specific goals in mind, and the two of them worked together to try to accomplish what Steve was “aiming” for.

Steve had purchased a number of Lollar pickups over time, including a few custom items. For example, Steve had liked the Charlie Christian blade style concept, and he had previously asked Jason to make a custom blade style pickup in a single coil design fairly similar to a Strat build. In other words, a taller pickup with a more focused, brighter sound. But for the project that eventually turned out to be the Phoenix, Steve became intrigued by the wider, flat shape of a Jazzmaster style pickup. Something that would be less bright than the tone that is created by a taller, narrower coil.

After the overall coil shape was identified, two more related elements came into clear view – the blade and its overall extension beyond the normal center-to-center outside string spacing. In other words, Steve wanted the blade to extend further beyond each side of the high and low strings so that there were no drop-outs when string-bending, and so there would be no drop in response in the high E string.

A blade style pickup can increase output and sustain

A blade style pickup can increase output and sustain

The blade itself is also an important feature of the pickups. The blade does two things that affect the overall function of the pickup. A ferrous (iron) based blade propagates the magnetically field differently than individual pole pieces. The blade also increases the inductance of the pickup. Inductance is a measurement of a pickup’s ability to convert the physical vibration of the string and convert it into and electrical signal. The end result is that the pickup will give you a fuller sound, a little more overall output, and a longer sustain as compared against a Fender style Jazzmaster pickup.

We wish Scott the best of luck with the new Scott Walker Guitars Phoenix. For more information on the guitar, you can go directly to the Scott Walker Guitars web site.

Lollar McCarty Style Pickup for Archtop Guitar

Over the last decade I have had countless requests for a thin pickup that will mount onto an acoustic archtop that requires no modifications to the guitar. As you may be aware the space between the strings and the top of the guitar is often very small so it requires a very short or thin pickup to fit. Most pickup designs are too tall to fit on an archtop. We have a specialized mini humbucker patterned off the old Gibson Johnny Smith pickup. The Johnny Smith is ½” tall which is shorter than a typical mini and it requires that the guitar is either set up for a neck mounted bracket (the guitar has to be made specially for this) or we have another version that mounts to the pickguard- however it’s still a little too tall to fit on a lot of archtops.

McCarty Pickguard

McCarty Pickguard

A couple years ago I had an archtop builder ask for me to make a McCarty pickup. The McCarty pickup was a product Gibson introduced in 1948 which could be mounted as an aftermarket piece of hardware to any Gibson archtop (and many other makes) and they also came mounted for a period of time as a standard item on Gibson L-7’s. The unique feature of this pickup was that it came built into a pickguard along with a volume, tone and output jack. You could screw on the new pickguard to the pre- existing location and it converted your acoustic archtop to a fully functioning electric guitar. The pickup/pickguard assembly came in single and double pickup models and it had a separate design for cutaway and non cutaway guitars.

About maybe a year ago I got ahold of Joe Vinikow at Joe is very informed on all aspects of archtop guitars and he was gracious enough to loan me an original non- cutaway McCarty pickup. It took me several months to find enough time to figure out how to reproduce the pickup. I had to have magnets custom made and go through the typical procedure of reproducing something from scratch. Once I had it made up and I started telling people on my waiting list, I had someone from England request a cutaway version. He sent me a tracing of the pickguard to copy and now I have two versions. Joe gave me a source for the miniature pots I needed- they are a high quality pot with a very smooth action.

This McCarty style pickup & pickguard is a pre-wired assembly that can be installed into many archtop guitars. Overall thickness of the pickup is .45 inches, it comes with a volume and tone control built into the pickguard and there is a Switchcraft output jack attached to the guard too. The pickguard does not come drilled for the screw that holds the pickguard to the face of the guitar and it does not come drilled for the angle bracket to screw the guard to the side of the guitar. These holes need to be drilled by the end user so they will match whatever pickguard you already have installed.

At this point I only make the single pickup model in cutaway or non cutaway configurations. I also make a version to fit the Godin 5th avenue non-cutaway. The Godin version is pre drilled for the attachment to the body (body and bracket screw hole locations).  I am in the process of borrowing a 2 pickup version Joe recently found.  I can make the  pickguards in a variety of commonly available laminated material. Pickguard materials include tortoise, black or pearloid.

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