MrGlyn’s Pickups is based at Muriwai Beach near Auckland, New Zealand. Dedicated to making fine electric guitar pickups. From low powered “vintage” to powerful rock monsters. We care about your tone.
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The MrGlyn’s Pickups Story
My name is Glyn Evans. I have been a full time pickup winder and luthier since 1995.
Although Mr Glyn’s Pickups is based in New Zealand I was born and raised in Wales.
I started playing guitar at 16 and as a lifelong tinkerer naturally started dismantling them. I don’t think it can be overstated how important it is to see inside things, to find out what makes them tick. If you too have that sort of mind you’ll understand.
I made my first guitar (an explorer copy) in school and struggled through my first gig at the age of 17. The guitar was made out of an old school desk but it worked.
I was hooked, I became a lifelong guitarist.
I am still gigging regularly.
Leeds College Of Music
After many years of very amateur tinkering with my own guitars and those of friends I decided to take luthiery seriously. In ‘93 I started a full time guitar making and repair qualification at the Leeds College of Music in the North of England.
The course involved all aspects of repair and guitar making.
I had found my place.
My tutor for guitar repair was the great Ted Lee. Ted began repairing guitars in 1958 so had seen all the significant developments in the instrument. He had worked for many major players and had so many great stories as well as a wealth of knowledge.
For guitar making I studied under Gordon Wittam, the co-founder of Gordon Smith Guitars.
I loved college and excelled at it.
During this time I wound my first pickup under the guidance of Ted.
There was an old winding machine in the cupboard, unused for years. I was really interested in this machine and eventually, after some nagging, Ted showed me how to use it. He briefly showed me how to wind a Strat and a PAF and that was it.
There’s something about the physics that really appealed to me.
I went home and made myself a winding machine, bought some wire and started experimenting.
The course had set me up with the skills I needed to start up as a guitar repairer (and occasionally maker).
I bought a very run down guitar shop call Rockshack in Leeds and started buying/selling guitars, amps and accessories. I specialized in guitar repair.
Over time I slowly built the shop up, developed a good reputation and made lots of friends. The shop became a hang out for Leeds bands and musos some of which have since become huge. It had a very grass roots community vibe.
There is so much to learn. This was the start of 25 years of full time guitar repairing and I didn’t stop learning, there were always new problems to solve. And among the guitar repairs were numerous broken pickups.
In the mid 90’s there was no shortage of old pickups in need of fixing. 70’s Fender pickups were not valued or fetching big money like they do now so were easy to come across. They weren’t considered worthwhile fixing and there were very few repairers around able to do it.
I re-wound dozens of them, experimenting and listening as I went.
In those pre-internet days there just wasn’t any information available on how to make good pickups. I made pickup after pickup, I wound, and I listened. I made notes of every variation both good and bad so I could learn what was happening.
Looking back, I think that time was invaluable for developing an intuition for making pickups. Whenever I came across a result I didn’t understand I swatted up on the physics; there’s a lot to learn. I wrote all the experiments down in a notebook, I still have that notebook and I’m still adding to it. I love hearing my pickups played live or on recordings; it feels good to have played a small part in that sound.
I had a shop full of used guitars, boxes of old pickups to experiment with and time on my hands. That’s a great combination of circumstances in which to learn stuff. It’s all about developing intuition and judgement. The biggest difference you man make to your sound is a good set of pickups. It’s great making that happen.
I made a note of all the variations and the sounds that made. I kept a notebook from the mid 90’s to the present day. I’m still adding to it. It’s full of pickup ideas, experiments and their various results. I didn’t realize at the time but it was all leading up to the Mr Glyn’s Pickups range.
It isn’t just about how many turns of wire you put on. It’s the gauge of wire, the insulation, method of winding, coil geometry. Then there’s magnet strength type, size and geometry. So many variables.
Dealing in used guitars and repairing instruments gives a great insight into how they work, what makes a great one and how to improve an average guitar. After time you start seeing patterns in guitar construction.
I ran Rockshack for nearly 10 years and finally sold up in 2003. The internet was starting to make a difference, online shopping was beginning to happen and I didn’t feel I had the interest in computers to jump on the bandwagon. I loved guitar repair but wasn’t sure if I loved retail.
For a couple of years I played the musical saw on the streets around Europe and then ended up going to New Zealand at the end of ‘05.
Move to New Zealand
Arriving in New Zealand I immediately felt at home. Shortly after arriving I started Mr Glyn’s Guitar Repair, a business I ran up until March 2020.
It started slowly until little by little word got out and I got really very busy.
I did general repair work on all sorts of guitars. Lots of vintage and unusual guitars and, of course, pickup winding. At its height I was having 800 guitars a year through my hands.
Being new to Auckland it was the perfect way to get to know a lot of musicians many of whom I’m proud to call my friends. For 12 of those years my workshop was on Khyber Pass Road in central Auckland. It became a well known hub for guitarists.
I was next door to the legendary Bungalow Bill’s guitar shop. Just across the way from Neil Finn’s recording studio, Roundhead and around the corner from The Powerstation venue. A truly funky part of Auckland City.
Sammy the dog came to work with me every day and he got to be well known with visiting guitarists and even got to meet Billy Gibbons when he popped in.
Mr Glyn’s Pickups is born
In 2012 I had the idea of Mr Glyn’s Pickups and started developing a range of pickups.
My day job gave me access to a lot of pro players of all musical styles. Many of these players generously gave their time to test pickups. Many of my pickups were gigged, recorded and toured for months or years before they even had names. I like to test new designs rigorously so I can stand behind my designs 100%. My busy repair workshop was an invaluable asset in pickup development
The plan was in place to close my central Auckland workshop and make pickups from home. I live in a beautiful place (Muriwai Beach) and wanted to spend more time there and with my family rather than commuting into the city. But I hadn’t quite built up the courage to take the leap.
Then in March 2020 Covid happened.
That was the push I needed and there’s been no looking back.
In 48 hours I had dismantled my workshop and moved it to home. The next 7 weeks of lockdown were spent constructing a purpose built pickup making workshop and building a website. It was a busy time.
By May 2020 I was ready for business.
All my pickups have been designed and tested over a period of time.
They start with an idea, then I make a pickup that I think will work. That pickup will go into one of my test guitars.
I have a lot of test guitars, in fact, all my guitars are test guitars. I need to be able to cover any style or musical genre.
Once in a guitar I test the pickup through various amps and pedals and make notes of what I find. This can take a while. I tweak and adjust, usually making half a dozen or so versions until I’m happy.
Once I am happy I’ll swap it into another test guitar with different properties and try that. I find it’s best to have a guitar on hand that I know well to compare to.
If I’m still happy it’s off to band practice to get it next to a drummer and bass player. You never quite know until it’s loud with the band. Usually at this stage I’ll engage the help of a pro player in this process. Having access to a different set of ears and playing styles in invaluable. It can sometimes simply be a style thing, I don’t play every style.
This can be a long process, at any point I might decide to start again, some pickups have taken years to develop. That’s fine by me, I’m happy to play the long game. Once a design is fixed I might be making it that way for the rest of my life, I need to be happy with it.
I’m sure there are quicker and easier ways to do it but that’s just not how I work.
To begin with I started developing a core of pickups capable of doing most jobs; a couple of Strat sets, a couple of Tele sets and humbuckers both vintage and rock. After that is was the Black Sand humbucker size P90 set, the Sassy P90 set. There are so many different pickups to make. There are always variants of existing pickups o completely new designs like the ‘Draig’ doom humbucker.
In 2021 I started talking with NZ metal band Alien Weaponry about a signature pickup for Lewis De Jong. I love what they do so it was a real privilege to meet them and discuss what Lewis needed.
I learned a lot from the process of making a pickup for a specific sound. It not only needed to be a great pickup but to sound like their last album too.
After clocking up a fair few driving hours and winding a few pickups we settled on a design that became the Tumatauenga. They took it on tour around Europe in 2022 and when they were back we launched it. I was tempted to launch it before the tour but like with all pickups, it needed a thorough test.
New pickups are always being developed. Any spare time I get when not fulfilling customer orders is spent designing and testing new electric guitar pickups. I don’t think I’m ever going to get to the end of it.
I’m writing this in August 2023 and I have at least half a dozen new designs I’m currently working on.There’s a lot more to come.
I am really happy with the results; I hope you will be too.
Podcasts About MrGlyn’s Pickups
From time to time I am asked to appear on podcasts, I always enjoy these chats, I really enjoy talking About MrGlyn’s Pickups Here are a few of them:
Updated August 2023
About MrGlyn’s Pickups