Six scary questions—Dialtone Pickups

The six scary questions series continues with these new questions and answers that the awesome people at Dialtone Pickups agreed to make happen. Well, I made the questions happen. They made the answers happen. You know how these things work. Perhaps what you don’t know is who Dialtone Pickups is? Perhaps you don’t know what they have on offer? Perhaps you don’t know how six scary questions equates to seven questions. Many of these questions will be answered below. Enjoy the learning.

You’re welcome.

Six scary questions

  1. How did you first come up with the idea to build a pickup with inbuilt tone controls?John came up with the idea for Dialtone Pickups a few years ago after not being able to achieve the tone he wanted using his existing guitar or gear (we still have a pile of miscellaneous pedals and other gear literally collecting dust in the garage.) After realizing that nothing on the market did what he wanted, and facilitated by his background in engineering and physics, John decided to invent something himself. He brainstormed different approaches and came up with a ton of ideas on how to achieve what he was looking for, but most of his ideas involved woodwork, too many knobs/switches, or making adjustments through a computer, which John felt defeated the purpose of playing the guitar in the first place. As he focused more on finding a simple solution, he determined that it was possible to change the tone in the pickup itself, and that two knobs installed right on the pickup would be an easy and convenient way to do the trick.
  2. How long did it take to get the pickup from concept to prototype?It took John about two years of planning, calculations, designs, and simulations to reach a point where the first prototype could be made. What actually took the most time was figuring out how to achieve the desired level of control in the simplest form, and in a way that would actually be usable. Once that piece was worked out, the next challenge was getting the functionality to work, and work well, within such a small space using highly reliable parts with just the right musical feel.
  3. You’ve decided to allow for pre-orders of the Dialtone Pickup. How exactly does that work for people interested in this project?We are producing an initial batch of 500 pickups (250 sets), which are slated for fulfillment by February 2015. Quantity on this first batch is limited because we are financing the development and production of the pickups ourselves, and we will be doing a lot of the assembly (such as winding coils) by hand. Pre-orders can be submitted through our website,, using the Pre-Order page. Pickups are priced individually, and we’ve also listed a wiring kit separately for those who need it.As far as logistics—we collect basic information during the initial ordering process, such as the number and type of pickups. As we approach our fulfillment timeframe, we will reach out to those who have ordered to collect additional preferences, such as case color, and at that point we will provide a better idea of when their order will be fulfilled.
  4. The look of a pickup can vary greatly these days (such as pickup cover options and colour options). What finishes are you considering for Dialtone Pickups?We’ve already finalized manufacturing of the case, knobs, and other components, and we are currently evaluating a couple of finish options. We’ll most likely settle on an anodized finish, with laser etched markings. But, for folks who might want a white finish, for example (perhaps for their white Schecter?), we’re also exploring whether powder coating would be feasible. As far as colors—our pickups are different, and we want them to look different. So, while we’re considering more traditional colors such as black, we also really like some of the more unique options we’re coming across, such as dark gray.
  5. Are the Dialtone Pickups as versatile in the neck position of a guitar as they are in the bridge position?Due to its physical location and interaction with the rest of the guitar, for any pickup in any standard guitar, the bridge pickup has very high harmonic content whereas the neck pickup tends to be warm. Players who prefer the neck pickup will find the flexibility offered by Dialtone is pretty exciting. Use of the neck pickup alone offers a tone that is absolutely different than the results you’ll get from the bridge, or even the two combined. And as a reminder, when the neck and bridge pickups are used either independently or together, Dialtone technology allows the player to emphasize different parts of the sounds that are already present in the guitar; Dialtone is coloring the true tone of the guitar, not artificially manufacturing it after it’s produced.
  6. What has the feedback been like from people lucky enough to try the prototype/s of the Dialtone Pickup?Feedback varies greatly based on the type of player. For the most part, people are very excited to hear that our product is in the works and usually ask how they can get ahold of a set themselves. We do hear from time to time that our technology is “too innovative” and that players essentially don’t want a pickup designed after 1960, regardless of the functionality it might offer. The mix of feedback is very interesting, actually.

One not-so scary question

  1. What’s in the not-so-distant future for Dialtone Pickups that you can share?Our pickups are currently offered as drop-in replacements, meaning they will work as replacements in just about any guitar that uses humbucking pickups. In speaking with a couple of guitar manufacturers, we came up with the idea of customizing our pickups to specific models of guitars to be an even better fit. We have the ability to adjust both the case and internals based on the specifics of a particular guitar. We’ve been in contact with several guitar manufacturers and we’ve established positive working relationships with some. Others have explained that they strictly use only their own pickups, but we are hopeful that these manufacturers will change their tune when they learn more about the advantages of Dialtone. We are also in communication with several musicians, including a Bay Area heavy metal band, and we hope to announce collaborations with these folks in the near future—stay tuned!

There you have it. Thanks to the awesome people at Dialtone Pickups for agreeing to answer my six scary questions (plus one less scary question). OK, none of the questions are scary, it’s just a theme I’m going with because of my website handle.

If you haven’t checked out the Dialtone Pickups preorder yet, go and do so. You could be one of the first 250 or so people to pick up (haha! Pickup) a set of these awesome tone manipulators. Like that guy they refer to in this interview with a white Schecter. That guy sounds lucky and awesome. Oh wait, I have a white Schecter …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.