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Strat Wiring – simple mod

Strat Wiring must be the most modded wiring of all. It’s not that the original wiring isn’t great, there are just so many other possibilities. When I worked as a guitar repairer I re-wired a lot of Stratocasters. There are so many options, so many things that can be changed. A lot of players have their favourite versions of wiring up these fantastic guitars.

What I did find when I as modifying other peoples guitars is they would often come back to something close to standard wiring in the end. After trying multiple switching in every combination, series, parallel, coil tapping, humbuckers … it goes on, they often returned their Strat so something very close to the way Leo Fender originally did it back in 1954. There is a lot to be said in favour of simplicity.

Here I’m simply going to show you the standard way of wiring a Strat and add one simple and useful modification – that cheeky little red wire. I can’t recall ever being asked to remove this modification to a Strat’s wiring, there’s simply no disadvantage.

Here is the diagram using the colour code for my own single coil pickups.

Strat Wiring Diagram

Strat wiring plus simple tone mod
Strat Wiring

How Strat controls work

The heart of Stratocasters is the 5 way switch. Interestingly it wasn’t until 1977 that Fender fitted them as standard. Before that it was a 3 way switch and players had to ‘balance’ it between 2 positions to get that famous in between Strat tone. We’ve got it easy these days. Position 2 or 4 on a 5 way is such an iconic Stratocaster sound – you can spot it anywhere.

That sound with 2 pickups on is often incorrectly called ‘out of phase’ – here’s a blog explaining what it really is.

Here is a Stratocaster control plate. It looks straightforward but why are there 2 tone controls? Must be treble and bass yeah? Well no, it’s a bit more complicated than that. This is a passive system (no battery) so the tones just cut treble giving your sound less highs, they can’t boost bass. The middle knob marked tone is the control for the neck pickup and the end one for the middle pickup.

With the switch in the position shown the neck pickup is selected and the middle knob acts as a tone. If this 5 way switch was 2 clicks on it would select just the middle pickup and the end tone know would be engaged.So you can pre-set a tone setting for a pickup. I guess it was considered a step up from the Telecaster’s single tone control for the whole guitar.

Strat controls
Strat controls

That’s great but it means with a standard stratocaster there is no tone control for the bridge pickup. If ever there was a pickup that needed a bit less treble its the strat bridge pickup. If you refer back to the wiring diagram you can see a little red wire on the switch connecting 2 legs together. Adding that little wire with mean that the tone control for the middle pickup will also work for the bridge pickup.

It’s the simplest of all Strat Wiring mods but a very useful one and a good place to start if you’re new to experimenting with wiring.

What is SSS, HSS and HSH?

SSS – means 2 single coil pickups so a simply a standard Strat configuration.

HSS – That’s a Strat but with a humbucker (H) in the bridge position. The reason you might want a humbucker is for a fatter bridge pickup sound. Standard Strat bridge pickups can sound a bit weedy. All the Strat bridge pickups I make have a little bit more power to offset this but a humbucker may well suit you better anyway. This makes for a very versatile guitar but retaining the simplicity of the original design. On stage there is so much going on that complicated switching options can often work against you.

HSH – You’ve guessed it – there’s a humbucker in the neck and bridge positions. This is often used with coil tapping. The idea is to have both Gibson and Fender sounds in one guitar. Usually positions 1 and 5 of the switch will give either bridge or neck humbucker on their own. Positions 2, 3 and 4 will be combinations of the middle single coil pickup and the humbucker with 1 coil switched off (coil tapping) or series/parallel etc. There are so many options and combinations possible and some spectacularly complicated wiring to figure out to make it work.

For some of the more complicated wiring options the conventional 5 way switch just isn’t enough. There is a type of switch commonly called a ‘super switch’ that gives these extra options. It looks the same from the outside and is the same to operate but under the hood there’s a lot more going on. This switch allows you to wire up just about all the options imaginable. Maybe I’ll write more about them some other time.

Do I turn it all up full?

A lot of players do but I feel they’re missing out on a lot of tones. Try backing off the volume and tone to about 8 and setting the amp sound to that. It really is worth trying it. As you turn the volume down your sound looses a little treble. This can really smooth things out and give you an easier tone to work with. With your volume at 8 you also have somewhere to go if you need that bit extra for a big solo.

Now I’m at the end of this blog I realise there are a lot more diagrams to draw and a lot of wiring options to discuss. Not just for Strats, there are modifications that can be done on any guitar.

For more Strat stuff and a listen to my own Strat pickups here’s my YouTube Strat Pickup demo playlist.

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Pickup String Spacing – choosing a humbucker

Pickup string spacing is something you need to be aware of when you’re buying guitar pickups, particularly humbuckers. Guitar bridges come with different string widths so pickups need to match that. In this blog post I’m going to explain what It’s all about and how to measure it.

What is a Pole Piece?

Pickups have pole pieces, think of these as magnets mounted in the pickup listening for string movement. Sometimes they are actual magnets, sometimes pieces of steel directing magnetism towards the strings. In this case they are steel screws.

Humbucker pole pieces, Mr Glyns Pickups

This is what we mean by ‘pole spacing’ its the distance between the outer most poles, centre to centre.

Pickup String Spacing

What you don’t need to know

The way a pickup works is the string sitting inside the magnetic field actually becomes a temporary magnet and when it vibrates it disturbs this magnetic field and creates an electrical signal in the coil of wire around the magnet.

It’s a tiny signal but enough to get through your guitar’s on board circuit and down a cable to an amplifier. It’s hard to imagine that such a small amount of electricity can produce such a lot of sound. Have a think about it next time you’re at a big gig. What you’re hearing is just that small amount of electricity generated in a coil of wire. It’s really cool stuff and I find it fascinating. But you don’t really need to know all that.

Pickup String spacing – what you need to know

What you do need to know is that the string needs to align with the magnet to get the best signal. Magnets are, however, not lasers, they generate a magnetic field and not a precise beam. If the string isn’t in perfect alignment it’s fine. If the slightest misalignment made a difference then string bending would cause a drop in volume. Have a look next time you bend a string how far the string moves away from the pole.

Guitar string alignment to a humbucker

As you can see, a little bit out of line makes no difference. Eddie Van Halen used a vintage PAF on Van Halen I with a Fender type bridge – the PAF ‘s were 49.2mm (1 15/16″) spacing and Fender bridges are usually 52mm. If there had been a problem he would have noticed.

Please remember that if a humbucker has 49.2mm spacing or 52mm spacing it’s outer dimensions are the same. The overall size of the pickup doesn’t change. So if you take out a 49.2mm humbucker and replace it with a 52mm it will still fit, it’s just the pole alignment to the strings that will be different.

Guitar bridges come in various sizes giving different string spacing. So if you have a Gibson ABR Tune-o-matic your string spacing will be narrower than a Fender Strat bridge, for instance.

By the time the strings get to the neck pickup the spacings are just about the same so neck pickups don’t vary in width. We’re just talking about bridge pickups here.

So we really want the strings to line up as best as possible with the pickup’s poles but we’re not getting too hung up on it.

How to measure string spacing

The measurement is the distance from the first to the sixth strings centre to centre at the bridge pickup. This diagram should help:

Measurment strat bridge

You can simply do this with a ruler, like I have.

As you can see this ’89 Strat bridge has 52mm string spacing. If you wanted to choose a bridge humbucker to make it a HSS Strat than choose the 52mm option.

If you’re buying a Mr Glyns Pickup and have any doubt just send me a pic of your bridge and I should be able to advise you.

What is F spacing?

F spacing simply means a wider spaced bridge humbucker – 52, 52.5 or 53mm. The F stands for either ‘Fender’ or ‘Floyd Rose’. It isn’t clear which and doesn’t really matter.

Why 49.2mm not just 49mm? You may well ask! It’s the metric equivalent of the pole spacing for a Gibson PAF which is the pickup most humbuckers are based on. The original measurement in imperial is 1 15/16″ – which if you ask me is no less silly a number that 49.2 but we’re stuck with it.

If this has given you a need for a new set of humbuckers you can find the Mr Glyns Pickup humbucker range here.

Here is a link to my YouTube playlist for humbucker demos.

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Maxon humbucker?

I thought it was going to be a straightforward pickup repair but is this pickup actually a Maxon humbucker?

As part of my work I repair pickups for luthiers. Most guitar repairers don’t wind pickups and even the ones that do often send me pickups to repair, it saves them a lot of time. One such repairer is Auckland’s Ramsay Phillips.

For me repairing pickups is a really interesting part of my job. I enjoy seeing how the basic concept of a magnet and a coil of wire can be made in so many different ways. Back in the 1990’s I first learned about pickups by repairing them and I don’t think that instinct ever leaves. Most of my pickup repair work is very straight forward but occasionally something interesting comes along. This is one of those.

So Ramsay sent me a bridge humbucker from this 1970’s Antoria to repair. I was expecting something like the classic Maxon U-1000 but there was a surprise.

Antoria with Maxon pickups

This is not the first Maxon Humbucker I’ve seen I’ve worked on a few old Maxon pickups in my time and they have always deserved their great reputation. So I had a good idea what to expect from this humbucker.

Maxon humbucker?

Maxon serial number dating

The number on the base plate of this pickup is a date stamp not a model number though it would be nice to have both.

So to translate the Maxon pickup dating code:

The first number is a production line code

second number is the year, so in this case 1974

third number, the month, so September

and the last 2 are the day, so the 17th

So that tells us its from Sept 17th 1974. I always wonder why manufacturers can’t just write the date plainly instead of a secret code but they all seem to do it.

Something unusual

But there’s something odd here. The pole piece screws don’t extend under the base plate. The 6 holes in the base where I expected to see the poles are blocked by something. Time to get the cover off and see what’s inside.

Maxon 4917 baseplate

What’s Inside?

This is exactly what was inside – a single coil disguised as a humbucker! So Maxon humbucker? Well, it’s a Maxon but not a humbucker.

Maxon 4917 inside

It has the typical floppy nylon bobbin I would expect to see in a Maxon but this one is sitting on top of a large ceramic magnet.

Maxon 4917 assembly inside
Maxon 4917 baseplate and magnet

My job here is to fix this pickup so I remove the bobbin and start to carefully remove the sticky old tape.

Maxon 4917 bobbin

I remove the hookup wires and try re-soldering them to the winding wire and the pickup comes to life. It was simply a dry joint. This one is showing me 8KOhms on the meter which is in the ballpark of a PAF though it would sound nothing like one.

You can see the metal plate mounted inside the bobbin that connects the short pole screws to the magnet.

Maxon 4917 bobbin with keep bar

So, Maxon humbucker? Well, certainly Maxon but not a humbucker. Beware – not all Maxon pickups are classics.

I’ve had a look on line and can’t find a model number for this pickup. It seems the only distinguishing feature from the outside is the lack of pole screws through the base plate.

If you are interested in vintage humbucker tones check out the Mr Glyn’s ‘Integrity’ humbucker. It comes in 4 flavours or both bridge and neck.


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updated July 2023

Maxon humbucker?

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Draig doom set

Draig doom set NZ$379 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas they’re GST free; NZ$329.56

Draig doom single humbucker bridge NZ$199 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas it’s GST free; NZ$173.04

Bridge covers are $20 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas they’re GST free; NZ$17.39

Draig doom single P90 neck NZ$189 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas it’s GST free; NZ$164.35

Draig doom set specifications: Alnico VI – Bridge 9.18 KOhms, 7.42H, Ceramic 8 – Neck 6.96 KOhms

The Draig doom set is a pickup set designed for all the genres encompassed by Doom Metal. It has strong mids, smooth treble and a bass response immediate enough to cope with low tunings but not the harsh, dry percussive bass needed for extreme metal. It really is all in the bass and mids.

Draig doom set in chrome and open chrome covers

The Draig is inspired by the sound of Tony Iommi and that heavy riffing guitar tone, mid forward. Iommi’s tone has been in my head since I was a teenager m, I’m delighted to make this pickup available.

Power and Tone

But there’s another factor with this pickup. You’ll notice the Ohms for the bridge are in the 9Krange, lower that you might expect for a powerful humbucker. This is all about increasing the dynamics and reducing compression. When using heavy fuzz, it’s really useful to be able to back off using just playing technique; the Draig is designed to do just that. It’s designed to work along with your fuzz.

The coils are tuned to give the Draig its tonal characteristics with the magnet providing the engine.

Draig Doom Humbucker by Mr Glyn's Pickups
Draig in ‘Dragon Breath’

Pickups designed to derive most of their power from the strength of the coil, rather than the magnet, sound smooth, even and compressed like my Attitude humbucker. The Draig bridge gets a lot of power from its oversized alnico 6 magnet. This makes the Draig touch sensitive, dynamic and punchy.

Draig doom humbucker in chrome
Chrome cover Draig

So why alnico 6 in the Draig doom bridge humbucker?

Alnico 6 has similar properties to the more familiar alnico 5 but with more mids – it’s all about the mids. As you’d imagine, it has a little more power too.

Draig Doom Bridge Humbucker
Draig bridge humbucker

Draig doom bridge humbucker design

It wasn’t an easy pickup to design. It was designed for low tuning but with more of a Doom vibe in mind. I’ve made pickups before for extreme metal and it a very different approach to the bottom end. With extreme metal the bottom needs to be much drier and more immediate and percussive. With the bass on this one I’ve tried to walk the line between over hard and dry on one side and soggy and undefined on the other.

The choice of magnet was a big part of this. A bigger magnet has a more immediate response than the conventional size and I experimented with a few different types of alnico, finally settling on alnico 6. This oversized alnico 6 magnet gives all the punch and immediacy I wanted but with slightly stronger mids than alnico 5. Being an unusual size and material, I get these magnets manufactured specifically for this bridge pickup.

Like with many pickups to focus on the winding alone is telling only a small part of the story. The winding is 9.18K Ohms which might seem small but it’s all about balancing the mids. That oversized alnico 6 magnet is where the power comes from. The blade pole pushes more of that magnetic energy to the side of the pickup furthest away from the bridge, lessening the ‘pingy’ high end. It’s all about balancing the tone and emphasising the mids.

Draig doom humbucker in uncovered black
Open, no cover Draig

I made a short video explaining the thought behind the Draig pickup and how it works:


Test, tweak and test – Draig doom set

I rigorously test all my pickups in various situations, different amps, pedals and always next to a drummer. For the Draig I asked Timmy Smalls in Australia for his opinion on the Draig bridge humbucker. He has a great Instagram channel and makes fantastic demo videos. Always good to have a second opinion you can trust.

There are always changes along the way; this video is from when the Draig had an alnico 5 magnet.

Draig neck – humbucker size P90

With the success of the Draig bridge pickup I was asked by a few players about a matching neck pickup to complete the Draig doom set.

It was an interesting challenge. I wanted the neck to have a similar ‘mids forward’ character to the bridge pickup. It needed a smooth lead tone but a lot of clarity when playing chords. It needed to hit a fuzz pedal with just the right amount of power so as not to make the sound into an undefined mush. And it needed to be a good match for the bridge pickup.

I decided upon a humbucker size P90.

P90’s have a very different magnetic field to humbuckers with woody mids and less of a lower midrange push. It’s those lower mids that can create a mush.

After a lot of experimenting I landed on a combination of winds and magnet that did what I want.

I used a pair of undersized ceramic magnets that I have specially made for me. Ceramic has a drier tone than alnico which helps with the clarity and I designed the coil windings to compensate for the ceramic’s reduced mid range.

After some tweaking and, as ever, playing the pickup set alongside a drummer and bass player I was happy.

The Draig neck pickup has a different look to the bridge but I think they compliment each other well.

The name – “Draig”

So why call it ‘Draig’? Well, the word Draig means dragon in Welsh and although I’ve lived in New Zealand since ’05 I was born and grew up in Wales.

Roboguy Logo. Draig Doom Humbucker

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updated 26 June 2023

Draig doom humbucker

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P90 Pickup Height

Setting P90 Pickup Height is an essential part of your tone. More than any other pickup they really do like being up close to the strings. In this blog post I’m going to give you some measurements and info on how to measure pickup height. And there’s help for you dogear P90 players too. I’m going to give you some free dogear P90 height spacers.

How to measure P90 Pickup Height

The pickup height is measured from the top of the pickup pole (or cover) to the underside of the string when fretting the highest fret. Not easy to describe in words so here’s Roboguy demonstrating to clarify:

how to adjust P90 Pickup Height
Pickup Height Adjustment

Here is the P90 Pickup Height I suggest but I’d like to emphasise these are not set in stone, just a guide. P 90’s do like to be close to the strings but if you prefer the sound of them further away that’s fine – up to you and your ears. The closer a pickup is to the strings the louder it is. More importantly, the more dynamic and touch sensitive it is. So with the pickup further away, your sound is more compressed and less dynamic. There is no right or wrong here but especially for lead playing a P90 close to the strings gives a great sensitivity.

There’s also the matter of sustain. If the pickup is too close the magnetic field it produces can inhibit the vibration of the strings and reduce sustain. So it really is all about finding that sweet spot for you and your sound.

So start with this measurement and then find your sweet spot. I think the other important factor is that when you find what works for you, stop fiddling. It’s all about playing guitar . It’s easy to spend all your practice time adjusting things instead of playing – I’m as guilty as anyone of this.

P90 Pickup heigt measurements

What about dogear P90’s?

Now, that’s all well and good for soapbar or humbucker size P90’s but if you have a Les Paul Junior or an SG Junior with dogear P90’s it’s not as easy. Dogears aren’t height adjustable but don’t worry I have a plan.

As you can see below I’ve drawn some height adjustment shims for 3D printing. They have a few different heights and the taller ones are angled at 3 degrees to match Gibson neck angles. That way your pickups are kept parallel to the strings. A set of these should be all you need for a 2 pickup guitar. So this set should have you covered.

We don’t all have 3D printers but here in New Zealand larger libraries have 3D printers or there are many businesses offering printing services. I’m not sure how it is where you are but in most places it’s pretty easy to get things printed out. And, of course, having a Mate with a printer is ideal. It’s very easy to get done and it’ a way I can help you out without the delivery costs. I’ve sent this file to players all over the World for all brands of Dogear P90’s.

Dogear P90 height shims for free

If you want the file just get in touch with me and I’ll send it to you, no charge. You don’t have to buy my pickups (though that would be nice), I’m just happy to help out. simply email me at

Dogear P90 spacers - Mr Glyn's Pickups

P90 Pickup Height

For pickup demos head to YouTube

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updated 3 April 2023

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HS Strat Wiring

Here’s a suggested wiring diagram for a HS Strat.

I originally drew it up for Gabor from superfunawesimehappytime pedal show.

He has a green Strat with a Mr Glyns Tui neck pickup and a Cloud Nine bridge pickup that he’s been using for YouTube pedal demos.

HS Strat Wiring diagram

The format is:

1 Humbucker

2 Coil tap Humbucker

3 Humbucker and Neck

4 Coil tap Humbucker and Neck

5 Neck

The 470K Ohm resistor is there so that the humbucker ‘sees’ the volume pot as 500KOhm and the single coil ‘sees’ it as 250KOhm, clever eh.

Here is is in action:

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updated 4 September 2023

Roboguy Logo HS Strat Wiring

HS Strat Wiring

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The Duchess Tele set

Single The Duchess Tele – NZ$129 for NZ customers. If you’re overseas it’s GST free; $NZ112.17

Pair The Duchess Tele – NZ$249 for NZ customers. If you’re overseas they’re GST free; $NZ216.52

Alnico 5; Bridge 7.28KOhms, Neck 7.1KOhms

The Duchess Tele set is for the Telecaster player in need of that distinctive smooth Tele twang but with none of the ice pick cut. The neck pickup is warm and balanced with a full clarity and string separation. This a medium powered set that sits nicely in my range between the Silver Lady and Cruel Mistress.

The Duchess - Tele set
The Duchess Tele Set

The Duchess Tele set will do just about everything from ‘vintage’ Tele twang to a platform for pedals.

The Duchess’ beginnings

The idea for this pickup started in 2021. I had some work at Roundhead recording studios in Auckland looking after the guitars of an American recording artist. During the process, the producer and engineer (working from the US) decided to send over their favorite ‘magic’ telecaster because they wanted that sound on the record.

The guitar arrived and it was an original ’61 Fender Esquire Custom, sunburst, double bound and just beautiful.

Although it was an Esquire it had a neck pickup that they told me had been added later. After taking the pick guard off it looked more like the neck pickup had been fitted in the factory so maybe it was a custom order.

My job was to check over this guitar and set it up for the recording.

Fender Esquire '61. Mr Glyn's Duchess pickup set

I plugged it in and loved the sound immediately, now I understood why they’d shipped it over from the US for this session. So, I got my test meters out to analyze every aspect of the pickup. It was rather unusual for a Fender pickup of that time so maybe it had been re-wound at some stage. That didn’t matter, it sounded great, so I set out to make a Telecaster set in that style but with my own spin.

I made quite a few prototypes and did all the usual testing but didn’t quite get around to releasing the pickup.

The Duchess Tele is finally born

Then in 2022 I had the idea for my Pandora 3-way pickup. I used the design for The Duchess bridge pickup as the middle position for the Pandora. I knew all along the Pandora was never going to be for everyone but was pleasantly surprised when the idea caught on.

An order for a Pandora came in from an old friend of mine in the UK. He’s called Darren Driver and he’s in a well-established Springsteen tribute band – The Boss and the Beeston Street Band

Darren had been a customer of mine when I had a guitar shop in Leeds in the late 90’s. He was a Telecaster player back then. It’s always good to re-connect with people.

A couple of months later Darren got in touch saying how the mid position of the Pandora was his ideal Telecaster sound. Well, that was all it took. I got into the workshop and made a matching neck pickup for the Duchess. That week’s band practice I tested the set next to the drummer and was still really happy with it. So, I sent a set off to Yorkshire.

Darren said he was happy to make a demo of the pickups once he had got them into him number one Telecaster. That’s him in the video above.

And so The Duchess Tele set was born.

The Duchess – Tele set is great with either 250KOhm or 500KOhm volume pots. It’s really up to you – 500K will give more high-end Tele twang while the 250K will sound warmer. It really is a great pickup set either way.

I have made a couple of short videos to explain my thinking behind these two pickups:

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updated 17 May 2023

The Duchess – Tele set

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Pandora 3 way Esquire

Pandora 3 way Esquire specifications: Alnico V – 10.07 KOhm 4.4H, 7.28KOhm 2.3H, 5.49KOhm 1.15H

NZ$149 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas it’s GST free; NZ$129.57

The Pandora 3 way Esquire pickup took its inspiration from my desire to fix a problem.

'Pandora' 3 way Esquire Mr Glyns Pickups

I’ve never been happy with the switching options given on the Fender Esquire so I came up with a plan.

Rather than switch in some capacitors or switch out parts of the circuit and create sounds you can make anyway using the tone control, I thought it would be better to have a tapped pickup so the player could generate usable, ‘real’ tones.

It’s simply a case of ‘tapping’ into the winding at different points to obtain different strength pickups from the one coil.

This essentially gives the player 3 different pickups in one.

So in the middle position it’s an Esquire pickup, one way it’s less than that (I’m calling it ‘Gold Foil’ though it isn’t). The other way it’s more – my Cruel Mistress pickup. This gives 3 distinct tones going from jangly rhythm to fat lead without losing the distinctive Esquire/Telecaster character.

It makes use of the normal 3 way switch to achieve this.

Then, of course, I realised that the main use for this wouldn’t be in Fender Esquires but in single pickup builds. The single pickup movement is getting bigger and this is the perfect tool to give those guitars extra versatility while still using a single Tele style bridge pickup.

So the experiments and trials began, there’s a lot to test with this sort of pickup.

The ‘Cruel Mistress’ part was easy, it’s my best selling Telecaster pickup set. The middle position is based on a ’61 Esquire I once had the good fortune of getting to know. I was going for that clear, ringing bridge pickup tone we all know and love, a sound that stands out from a mix. I was so happy with how this pickup turned out that I have since made a Telecaster set from it – The Dutchess. The third position I’m calling ‘Gold Foil’ but I could have equally called it ‘Lipstick’. It’s a tone in the character of that style of pickup though technically is neither.

I sat on the design for quite a while (about a year) thinking that although I really liked it the idea might be a bit complicated.

Then on a whim I just posted on Instagram about it and received a huge response. It seemed players and builders liked the idea. So here it is, the Pandora 3 way Esquire.

Pandora 3 way Esquire sounds great with a 500KOhm volume pot or to get the most out of it I recommend this wiring diagram:

Pandora 3 way Esquire suggested wiring diagram

Pandora 3 way Esquirewiring diagram

The difference is that 1Meg pot (it’s usually 250KOhms) and those resistors. This enables each of the 3 pickup settings to ‘see’ the volume pot as a different value. It just emphasizes the good points of each setting, it’s subtle but it does make a difference.


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Dirty guitar jack – don’t blame your pickups

Les Paul Jack

What could cause a Dirty guitar jack ?

The season is changing, old guitars are coming out of cupboards, if your electrics are crackly or your guitar keeps cutting out it might just be a Dirty guitar jack – don’t blame your pickups. At least not yet.

 It’s pretty simple really, if you’ve got a crackly guitar the jack may just need cleaning. Don’t blame your pickups straight away. Jack sockets, switches and pots are more likely to cause problems than your pickups.

Of course, when you eliminate all the other possibilities you might be needing a repairer. Here’s a list og repairers in NZ:

Incidentally, it’s an “output” jack, not an “input” jack – just a pet hate of mine.

You can see the jack in this Les Paul is looking a tad fluffy. This one isn’t very bad but it’s worth a clean anyway as part of a set up.

Dirty guitar jack - don't blame your pickups Mr Glyn's Pickups

I use 600 grade wet’n’dry paper used dry.

Mr Glyn's Pickups

I simply tear a piece off, roll it up and clean the jack out with it. A squirt with some contact cleaner can help. It’s good to keep a piece in your guitar case in case your jack goes crackly at a gig.

Dirty Jack  - cleaning

 You can see a fair bit of dirt can come off even this relatively clean jack. Just think what that was doing to your earth connection.

Dirty Jack - how to clean it

If a dirty guitar jackis really bad and you are gigging just replace it. It doesn’t cost much and it’s something you just can’t do without. If your jack stuffs up on stage it’s not a good look. I always have a small piece of 600 grade in my gig bag just in case.

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updated August 2023

Dirty Jack – don’t blame your pickups

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Hofner Pickup – an interesting repair

Hofner pickup toaster

I came across a blog I wrote in 2010 about a repair on an old Hofner pickup, thought you might be interested:

I had a visit from Paul Crowther the other day (always a pleasure to see him). He’s rather a legend for amongst other things his ‘Hotcake’ overdrive pedals and the ‘Prunes and Custard’ (my favorite for theremin).

 He wanted to know if my coil winding machine was up and running –  he had an interesting pickup for me to wind.

Early Hofner toaster pickup

 Its an old Hofner pickup which I guess is from the 50’s. The guitar has 3 of them and this one has a break in the windings so needs to be re-wound.
This would normally be a straight forward job except for the design of this pickup.

inside an old hofner

 This is the inside of it. The windings (around the outside) are not wrapped around a bobbin. They are just sitting in the pickup and have been wrapped in tape to protect them. In the middle you can see the magnets sitting in a hard putty. There are incidentally only 5 magnets.
 So the problem Paul left me with was how to wrap about 5000 turns of extremely thin wire into a coil and therefore make a pickup.
 After a long brainstorming session with Sheena we came up with a plan.

Very tricky re-wind, Hofner pickup

 We figured that the wire had to be wound around a bobbin and then somehow the bobbin removed.

repair hofner pickup

 So I made this bobbin. The sides are plastic from a Strat pickguard (white) and the centre has been carved from candle wax.

hofner bobbin

The bobbin bolts together and is attached to another plastic plate which in turn fits to the winding machine.
 The idea is to wind the pickup on this and then warm the completed coil up and melt the wax. The wax should seep into the coil thus potting it as well. Then the sides can be unbolted and voila a copy of the original coil.

hofner repair

 Winding the coil wasn’t any different from any other pickup – so now for the tricky bit.

hofner repair

 I warm the coil ever so gently with a heat gun. I put my free hand next to the work to judge the temperature – if it gets too hot the plastic will melt and I’ll be starting again.

hofner pickup repair

 When I see some wax oozing out I ever so gently remove the top plate.

hofner pickup repair

 With the wax exposed I can apply more heat and watch it flow into the coil and as it cools becomes solid.

hand made coil

Then I wrap tape around it to hold everything in place. I cannot emphasize enough how fiddly this is. There are a few stray wires and if any of them break I’m starting again.


It may not be much to look at but its taken hours of quiet patience. The slight curve is to match the shape of the pickup casing. I’ve tested it and I’m pleased with it at 5.5Kohms.
 In the background you can see the magnetic lugs – I had to dig them out of the putty.

pickup fix

 I put the whole thing back together using ‘friendly plastic’ instead of putty then fill the casing with wax, solder the back on and its finished.

 Its been quite a task fixing this old Hofner pickup but I’m happy with the result.

It was so satisfying breathing new life into this old Hofner pickup, it should be good for another 50 years.


Hofner Pickup – an interesting repair

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updated July 2023

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Pickup Phase Explained

In this short video – Pickup Phase Explained – I look at what phase is, what it isn’t and why you need to know.

I use a Strat to demonstrate the ‘out of phase’ sound and how it would sound if it really was out of phase. There’s no maths, no diagrams. Just a simple explanation with a guitar to demonstrate.

Pickup Phase Explained

Positions 2 and 4 on Strat switches are often referred to as ‘out of phase’ when they really aren’t. Those positions are the sound of 2 pickups in parallel (a humbucker is in series). Out of phase is quite different as you’ll hear in this video.

There is another video in this series explaining how to test phase – the easy way

Pickup Phase Explained

Pickup Phase Explained

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Updated July 2023

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How To Test Pickup Phase – Quick 101

As part of my series on How Pickups Work here is How To Test Pickup Phase – The Easy Way.

There is, of course, a hard way and that’s putting pickups into a guitar and having a listen later. That’s fine if you get it right first time but a pain if you have to re-wire the pickup again later.

In this video I demonstrate how to use a cheap test meter to identify which phase your pickup is in out of the guitar.

Traditionally, Gibson style and Fender style pickups are in the opposite phase to each other. This is just how it is.

So it’s really useful to know how to wire your pickups especially if they have an unfamiliar colour code. In my line of work I often repair pickups. I need to send them back to the customer in the correct phase. This is the simple test I use.

I realised after making this video that I needed to make another on what pickup phase actually is. So here’s a link to that one.

In this second video I demonstrate the sound of pickups out of phase so you can hear the difference which is, of course, the whole point.

There is also a demonstration of the Strat ‘out of phase’ sound and how it isn’t out of phase at all – yeah really! The sound of positions 2 and 4 on a Strat are 2 pickups in parallel.

Thanks for reading How To Test Pickup Phase.

How To Test Pickup Phase

Here is more about Mr Glyn’s Pickups –

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How To Test Pickup Phase

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Customer Feedback

In the last week I have received 2 emails from customers with YouTube demos attached showing how Mr Glyn’s Pickups are working for them. Customer Feedback is always gratefully received.

If you like their YouTube channels don’t forget to Subscribe.

Firstly, Reg in Christchurch NZ with a set of Cruel Mistress Telecaster pickups:

Then Antonio from Tasmania who has a Cloud Nine bridge pickup.

Here is the email he sent me along with the links to his YouTube:

Hi mate.

Just wanted to give you some feedback on the cloud nine i recently installed.

Firstly, thanks for the amazingly fast service.

Secondly the pickup sounds fantastic, especially alongside the dimarzio hs4s that were already installed on the guitar. I got the cloud nine to replace the paf pro which was only standard spacing but needed to be f spaced. I absolutely love the paf pro, but im so glad i went with the cloud nine.

Even in coil cut mode it sounds fantastic.

Anyways i wanted to send you a couple of links to videos i made with the finished guitar.

The cold chisel one i used the humbucker in full mode on the second solo.

As for the Europe cover, all the rhythm guitars were recorded in coil cut mode including the parts of the solo when i switch to the bridge. Because the hs pickups are such low output pups, the cloud nine in coil cut mode is a perfect output match.

Im definitely going to give more of your pickups a go.

Exceptionally well made mate.



Here is my YouTube channel

Customer Feedback
Mr Glyn’s Pickups Logo – Roboguy

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Customer Feedback

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Modern Wiring – Les Paul

I like to support my customers as much as I can so here is my drawing of Gibson Modern Wiring – Les Paul.

The modern wiring is used in most Les Paul’s and it’s great for players wanting to roll off some treble when the guitar volume is turned down.

The difference between the modern and 50’s wiring is in how the tone capacitor is connected to the volume pot. It’s a very simple modification if you have 50’s wiring and are curious.

Modern Wiring – Les Paul diagram

Modern Wiring - Les Paul

An explanation

I’ve linked below to my 50’s wiring diagram so you can see the difference.

Another thing to remember is that you can actually use both wiring methods on the same guitar. It is possible, for instance, to use 50’s wiring for the neck pickup and modern for the bridge. That way the neck pickup would retain some clarity as you lower the volume. The bridge pickup (with the modern wiring) would loose a bit of high end with the volume down a bit and therefor smoothing off the treble. It just depends on what you’re trying to get out of your Les Paul. Then there’s capacitor choice, pot value, coil tap or series/parallel, or even out of phase – the list goes on. I will be writing more blogs to cover all that at some point.

It’s always important to remember that here is no right or wrong, despite what you may read on social media. It’s all just a matter of personal taste. These wiring differences are all subtle too, the place to start is with great pickups.

I’ve used my humbucker colour code.

Here’s my diagram for the 50’s style wiring

Here are some demos of my humbuckers

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updated 3 April 2023

Modern Wiring – Les Paul

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Jazz Bass

Single – Jazz Bass NZ$149 for NZ customers; if you’re overseas it’s GST free; NZ$129.57

Pair – Jazz Bass NZ$285 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas they’re GST free; NZ$247.83

Neck – 6.84 kOhms, Alnico V. Bridge – 7.45 kOhms, Alnico V

Jazz Bass pickup demo

Mr Glyn’s “Jazz Bass” pickups are inspired by the Fender Jazz pickups from the early 60’s. Low powered vintage tones suited to players looking for a clean, clear, springy tone. Positive, percussive bass response, woody mids and clear highs. Designed for players wanting a pure tone with either fingers or a pick.

All my Jazz pickup sets are RWRP so they are hum cancelling when both pickups are on.

I love Jazz basses, that off-set body looks so cool and the narrow neck makes it very easy to get around. Looks, play-ability and versatility make it hard to beat.

The J bass has such a classic tone. The sound of a Jazz with both pickups on can be heard on so many recordings, it’s so distinctive. It’s the sound of two coils connected in parallel, like a Strat in positions 2 or 4. It’s that clear, scooped tone. The pair of coils in a Precision Bass are wired in series which gives it a bigger, more powerful sound with a lot more lower mids but the clarity of a J Bass can really stand out.

Over the years I’ve re-wound a lot of old Fender pickups. I like to make notes to record what I find in these old pickups, wire gauge, insulation types, d.c. resistance, magnetic gauss, dimensions. My notebook is getting pretty full. This is my constant reference when I’m designing a new pickup, that and my ears.

I’ve based these pickups on the best of the old Fenders I’ve come across over the years. Not all vintage pickups are great but when you see enough of the good ones patterns begin to form.

I still repair pickups and still add to my old notebook, always learning 😎.

Check out my P Bass pickup here

Jazz Bass pickup set by Mr Glyn's Pickups
Mr Glyns Pickups

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update 8 May 2023

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Precision Bass

Single – “Precision Bass” NZ$179 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas it’s GST free; NZ$155.65

Alnico V – 10.9 kOhms

Precision Bass Pickup Demo

The P Bass split pair is based on the Fenders of the early/mid 60’s. Full and clear with that distinctive mid range that sits well in any mix. It is the essence of bass. It has the woody, full tones we all love. As a stand alone or used with my Jazz Bass bridge pickup as part of a PJ set.

Arguably the most important instrument of all of Leo Fender’s creations the P bass changed music more than any other instrument. From James Jameson to Steve Harris, the P Bass is surprisingly versatile and has such a distinctive tone.

As with the early pickups this split pair is built to be hum cancelling – the two coils are electrically out of phase but also magnetically out of phase. Here’s an explanation: How Humbuckers Work

With fingers, with a pick and especially with flat wounds.

My Precision Bass pickups are designed to be used with 250 K Ohm pots.

Precision bass pickup my mr glyns pickups

For more P Bass fun:

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Cool 90

Single – Cool 90 P90 NZ$189 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas it’s GST free; NZ$164.35

Pair – Cool 90 P90 NZ$369 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas they’re GST free; NZ$320.87

Neck- 6.4 KOhms, 5.45H, Alnico II. Bridge 7.25 KOhms, 6.42H, Alnico II

The Cool 90 is a P90 based pickup available in both Dogear and Soapbar. Designed with Jazz and Blues players in mind it produces a clear, full, well balanced tone. Never harsh, always full and musical.

The bridge pickup has an organic sound with a lower mid push ideally suited to dynamic lead lines and tight rhythm playing.

The neck pickup is clear and chiming with enough clarity to always be heard in the mix. It has that lovely woody tone especially in an archtop.

Cool 90 Guitar Pickup from Mr Gyn's Pickups

For ‘full fat’ P90 tones have a look at our “Sassy” P90 pickup set.

The Cool 90 Story

Like many of my pickups the this one started with a repair job. A customer sent be a faulty Gibson P90 out of a 1955 Les Paul Junior. Naturally, I took measurements and completely analyzed every detail of it. Unlike the information in the books (and internet) it had less windings and Alnico II magnets instead of Alnico V.

And what a great sounding pickup it was.

I decided to make my own version of it to compliment the ‘Sassy” P90 pickup I was already making. The Sassy has the classic “full fat” P90 tone, plenty of growl and cut through.

The idea was to make a lower powered version for the cleaner player. Still keeping the classic P90 character but with less grunt.

I experimented and tested and eventually came up with this design.

Cool 90 P90 dogear Alnico 2 by MrGlyns Pickups
Cool 90 soapbar P90 set with alnico 2 magnets

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I also make a humbucker size P90 set – the “Black Sand” if you need some P90 goodness in your humbucker guitar, here’s a link to them:

For a full range of demo videos of Mr Glyn’s pickups go to my YouTube channel

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Telecaster Bass

Single – Telecaster Bass NZ$149 for NZ customers, if you’re overseas it’s GST free; NZ$129.57

Alnico V – 6.8 kOhms

Telecaster Bass demo

There is something so unbelievably cool about the Fender Telecaster Bass. The classic lines, that headstock, the pickguard, the association with great players and, of course, the tone. What ever it is we all love about this great instrument here’s a pickup to do it justice.

Whether you play with fingers or a pick this classic pickup will deliver. More present in the mix than the Precision split pair but with that distinctive punch and clarity.

This is the straight version of the P Bass pickup, often called the ’51 Bass Pickup so as not to confuse it with the split pair P bass pickup.

Over the years I’ve re-wound a lot of old Fender pickups. I like to make notes to record what I find in these old pickups, wire gauge, insulation types, d.c. resistance, magnetic gauss, dimensions. My notebook is getting pretty full. This is my constant reference when I’m designing a new pickup, that and my ears.

I’ve based these pickups on the best of the old Fenders I’ve come across over the years. Not all vintage pickups are great but when you see enough of the good ones patterns begin to form.

I still repair pickups and still add to my old notebook, always learning 😎.

Telecaster bass, '51 bass pickup my Mr Glyn's Pickups

You can find all our demos here.

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updated 3 April 2023

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50s wiring

I like to support my customers as much as I can so here is my drawing of Gibson 50s wiring. Hopefully it will help you fit your new pickups.

The 50s wiring is great for players wanting to retain some treble when the guitar volume is turned down.

The difference between the 50’s and modern wiring is in how the tone capacitor is connected to the volume pot. It’s a very simple modification if you have modern wiring and are curious.

I recommend this wiring for my Integrity humbuckers –

50s wiring Les Paul by Mr Glyns Pickups

I’ve used my humbucker colour code.

There really is nothing wrong with modern wiring, having your tone darken as you turn down the volume can be very useful in some settings. So try both and see which suits you best.

It seems that all the cool kids and ‘experts’ on the internet are telling us it has to be 50s wiring or nothing but for anyone with a soldering iron it’s an easy mod and completely reversible so experiment for yourself. You may find you like 50’s for the neck pickup and modern for the bridge.

Here are some demos of my humbuckers

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Les Paul Jr P90 from 1955

When I was contacted about repairing a Les Paul Jr P90 from 1955 I was naturally very keen.

P90’s are very interesting pickups. They have a single wide flat coil usually of around 10,000 turns of AWG 42 wire but the really fascinating aspect is the magnets. They have 2 bar magnets underneath the pickup (a PAF just has one) causing a much wider magnetic field than other single coil pickups.

To put it simply – P90’s hear more string than other pickups. Hearing more string gives a fuller, fatter sound and that distinctive woody P90 tone. Not everyone likes them but those of us that do absolutely love them.

I make my own version of the P90 called the ‘Sassy’. It’s a full fat version of the P90 with alnico 5 magnets with all the warmth and plenty of grunt that you find in the old Gibsons.

So I’m always interested to have a good look at a genuine vintage pickup especially from a Les Paul Jr P90 from 1955. I’m a big fan of the Juniors.

Les Paul Jr P90 from 1955

The pickup was sent to me because it wasn’t working and both the customer and myself suspected it might need a re-wind but I never jump to conclusions. It could be just a dry joint on one of the hookup wires – always worth checking.

1955 P90 pickup underneath

As you can see the hook up wires look a bit scruffy so I re-solder and test, remove the wires and test, remove the tape and test – still nothing. The next step is to start removing a few layers of the winding wire just in case there’s a break. There was no obvious break. The problem was deeper inside the pickup – this one is a re-wind.

vintage guitar pickup. P90 1955

Now, I talked about magnets earlier, take a look at these two. Firstly they’re wonky. Some amazing Gibson vintage tonal secret or just being a bit sloppy in the factory? Probably the latter.

But for me the most interesting part is they’re rough cast alnico 2. For this era I was expecting Alnico 5.

Alnico rough cast P90

Alnico 2 have a smoother, purer sound than the more powerful rougher sounding alnico 5’s.

So after I re-wound this lovely old pickup I started experimenting. I started winding P90’s with Alnico 2 magnets and from that was born a new pickup set in my range – the “Cool 90″.

Vintage P90 plain enamel wire

It’s cleaner than the Sassy, less grunty but still full and fat sounding.

Ideas can come from anywhere. It reminds me of the quote from Picasso – “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working”

Gibson P90 vintage no cover
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Here’s the ‘Sassy” –

Les Paul Jr P90 from 1955

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updated 3 April 2023

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The 5150 Show

5150 Show on YouTube

Had a great time talking with Andrew and Chris from ‘It’s the 5150 Show’ on YouTube.

The 5150 Show is a fantastic channel with in depth discussions on classic albums, guitarists and all things guitar.

You should subscribe.

They’re invited me to have another chat with them in the near future and I’m really keen to take part again. They’re series ‘Rankin The Tracks’ gives great insight into some classic albums. I’ve been really enjoying hearing different views on well loved albums.

The 5150 Show

There are always new pickups in development as well as a steady supply of interesting old pickups at the workshop for repair. In my blog I try and keep you up to date on new pickups in development as well as writing detailed articles on interesting repairs. I do see quite a few vintage pickups and really enjoy sharing the details of their design and construction. It constantly amazes me how many people are interested in these cool little devices.

All pickup demos are uploaded on YouTube as well as some videos my customers send me. Check out my series Mr Glyn Meets Your Maker where I record conversations with other makers of guitar gear. It’s really interesting hearing how they approach their work. There are so many great makers out there.

I’d love you to follow my blog, subscribe to my YouTube, follow me on Instagram, ‘Friend’ me on Facebook – I try and update my social media regularly, reply to messages and I won’t spam you.

Mr Glyns Pickups is a small business which means I can communicate with my customers one to one. I’m always happy to discuss your requirements, answer questions and give advice. I want to know about the guitars my pickups are going in, send me pictures, send me recordings.

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Feel free to get in touch either HERE or through social media:

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The Cultured Guitarist Podcast

The Cultured Guitarist podcast

Had fun chatting with the guys at The Cultured Guitarist podcast. We had a pretty lively discussion and not just about pickups.

The Cultured Guitarist Podcast

This podcast is no longer making new episodes but their back catalogue is well worth a look. I really enjoy taking part in podcasts, always fun chatting about guitars and great to make new friends around the World.

The Cultured Guitarist is dedicated to exploring the cultural zeitgeist surrounding the instrument that has been the most moving instrument of the last 100 years. Join us for the ongoing conversation of what it is to be a guitarist. We tackle everything from new gear, old gear, songwriting, playing, gigging, practicing, collecting, modding, building, etc. If it’s related to the guitar, we’re gonna explore it. With a lot of humour and some stellar guests, Al & Kasper tackle the topics in the unending quest to be six string gurus.

Mr Glyns website

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New Alien Weaponry pickup


Spent a couple of days with Alien Weaponry working on a signature pickup for Lewis and we’re just about there.

We’ve got the sound, and it’s BIG. This is not a pickup for the timid.

We just have some work to do on the look of the final pickup and it will be available to the public.

Alien Weaponry Mr Glyns Pickups

This is so exciting for me, working with an artist who really knows what he wants and is such a great player and they are lovely people to work with.

More news coming soon.

Tumatauenga Pickups

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Eat My Packaging

I’ve just published a couple of videos on YouTube entitled Eat My Packaging. The idea is to demonstrate that our packaging is compostable and to have some fun at the same time.

I’d love other businesses to think about how they send their products and maybe make some changes.

If you think this is a good idea I’d love it if you could share it on your social media and maybe ask a business to do the same and post a video or pictures on #eatmypackaging

Here’s the short version of Eat My Packaging :

And there’s a longer talky one:

No pickup makers were harmed in the making of this video.

Eat My Packaging is not something I recommend you try and do – you’ve got way more sense than that.

Mr Glyn’s Pickups is a small manufacturer operating from one of the more distant corners of the planet sending delicate products all over the World. If we can manage to use fully bio degradable packaging then there’s no reason why others can’t. You don’t need bubble wrap, you don’t need plastic bags.

I’m going to use this video to encourage my suppliers to do the same. Too many of the parts we use arrive in plastic bags. We do our best to re-use these and some can be re-cycled. It isn’t perfect but we’re working on it.

The products we sell contain plastics and metals but our pickups are designed to last at least 50 years and after that are repairable. Again not perfect, but we’re doing our best.

If you think this is a good idea please share on all your social media, tell your friends and maybe challenge a business to #eatmypackaging

Mr Glyn Packaging

Eat My Packaging

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Mr Glyn’s Pickups are handmade in New Zealand

Next time I’ll try and make a cheese toastie 🙂

#eatmypackaging Eat My Packaging

updated 28 August 2023

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The Guitar Knobs Podcast

Had a great time chatting with the guys at The Guitar Knobs Podcast the other day. We talked about pickup design, methods of construction, materials and my favourite pedals.

The Guitar Knobs Podcast with Mr Glyns Pickups

Its always fun going on podcasts, I could talk about guitars all day.

Check out Mr Glyns Pickups

If you want to hear more, here’s a chat with The Australian Guitar Show from 2021.

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