Sunday, January 31, 2010

Brett Brubaker, Pickup MD

Like an elderly relative on life support that you just can't pull the plug on, Old Style has a propensity for extending guitar components well beyond their expected life spans. And why not, the stuff sounds so good when it's up and running and the sails are in trim. What follows is a couple touching stories of close calls with the Grim Reaper.

The pickups below were actually declared legally dead for a period of five minutes after a horrible car accident. A Ms. Emma Goo from Northern Los Angeles was adjusting her GPS and lost sight of the yellow line. The aircraft engineer and pickup expert, Brett Brubaker ( was called in to spare them from the cold, cold ground. Under his care, both have made a full recovery.

The first pickup is a 1953 DeArmond 'guitar mike' that had no reading on the multimeter and apparently wasn't moth-proofed. Looks like two magnets and a spacer to soften the B-string. Or...three magnets. Will have to ask the doc. Have never met Brett, we just have an email relationship (he hails from Indianola, Iowa), but looking at this work I can tell he's not a heavy coffee drinker.

The second repair was on one of my all-time favorite pickups (after the DeArmond Stratotone 'Hershey Bar' and Jason Lollar's Chicago Steel), the DeArmond Dynasonic. I'll guess a vintage of mid-60s by the shape of the bezel. -Kind of like the bezel on the Dynasonics manufactured for Martin electrics and electric acoustics. The pickup is so heavily worn it looks fake-old, like those guitars people attack with battering-rams and claw-hammers to make them look old. Brett fabricated replacement bits for the cracked off sides and solvent-soldered them on and rewound. Note the subtle invocation of the new Vampire Weekend record by the graph-paper background.