Watson Guitars
California, USA


We have recently invested in the equipment to begin winding our own WATSON pickups. Since they have to measure up in sound quality to be used in our own instruments they are being built to very high standards. We will have Watson pickups in some of the basses and guitars on display in our booth at the 2009 NAMM show.

We are now producing two types of pickup for our instruments. These will be above and beyond normal commercial standards and are the perfect match for the quality of instruments we are building. Available in 4, 5, 6 string configurations, and beyond if necessary. We are now cutting our pickup flatwork using a laser for improved quality and repeatability.

Why make our own pickups?
The main focus of any high-quality instrument maker is to ensure that all of the pieces work together in a holistic manner to achieve the final goal, which is wonderful tone, playability, and presence.  We have spent a great deal of time working with a variety of unique tone woods to hear just how they interact to make a great sounding guitar or bass.  By selecting these wood combinations carefully, we can tailor a guitar or bass to have a particular sonic foundation as well as being aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  Once the basic “voice” of the instrument has been developed through this process, final tweaking can be made through the careful choice of the pickups and electronics.  Slight adjustments here can result in vastly different outcomes. 

While there are numerous fine guitar and bass pickup manufacturers, Watson Guitars ultimately wanted to have more control over the pickup voicing as it pertains to our meticulously crafted instruments.  As a result, we have been working hard to develop our own line of pickups, some of them being wound to fit a particular instrument and some of them wound with a more universal tone to fit a wider cross section of instruments.  Once we have finalized our pickup designs, we plan to offer our own line of Watson Pickups.

Custom Tapped Single-Coil Pickups:
In these pickups, we basically combine two pickups into one. One coil inside the pickup is wound for full spectrum tonal quality, with deep and crisp lows to clear sparkling highs. The other coil delivers earthshattering power and energy with pronounced mid-frequencies. The pickups come with their own two-way selector switches so that you can combine these punchy single coil sounds from both the bridge and the neck pickups. They are carefully wound and meticulously shielded to minimize noise.

Deluxe Dual-Coil Humbucking Pickups.
For those of you who want the absolute best of both worlds, we offer the extra powerful dual coil humbuckers. In dual-coil mode these pickups will deliver a sweet but powerful sound, capturing and turbocharging everything your bass can deliver in tone. The advantage these pickups have over most high-end dual-coil pickups is that when you switch to single-coil mode, you don't get a weak imitation of a single-coil pickup, but rather a powerful single-coil sound that can truly stand on its own and challenge any single-coil pickup in raw power. These pickups are not for the timid bass player.

Your Opinion Counts:
Since we are still in the development stages, we would like to solicit some input from players as to what they might like to “hear” in a new line of pickups.  With that in mind, we would appreciate your answers to the following questions:

  1. What pickups do you currently favor in your instruments?
  2. Why have you decided on these pickups?
  3. Do you prefer single-coil or humbucking designs?
  4. Do you prefer active or passive electronics or a combination of both?
  5. If you could design your own pickups, how would they differ sonically from what is currently available?

If you would like to answer any or all of these questions, just click this link.

Thank you for your time and input.  Rest assured that we will consider all comments carefully as we move through the prototyping process over the next few months.

Right: (12/4/07) Introducing Frankenstein, the Watson Guitars testing bass guitar. Frankenstein's purpose in life is to allow us to test our pickups in different configurations. We can make accurate comparisons between differently wound pickups and it also allows us to experiment with pickup placement to achieve the best responses.

Frankenstein is currently equipped with a couple of Watson multi-coil pickups (4 coils in each pickup) which allows the user to select four different sounds from each unit. We hope to be able to develop this configuration and make it available by January 2008.

We also have single coil and dual coil humbucking pickups being wound in the next week or so.

Left: (11/29/07) Here we are in the process of machining a winding spindle for our pickup winder. This disc will hold a pickup bobbin while it is rotated in the pickup winder. This is part of a wide range of tooling that we need to create in order to build our own pickups.

Manufacturing quality pickups requires a good amount of technical research and knowledge, financial investment, and time put into setting up equipment for both manufacturing the product and testing the results.

We are hoping that our efforts will yield pickups that will match quality of our instruments and achieve our own sound. If all goes well building for our own instruments we might be able to make them available for sale.

Right: (11/26/07) Here we are on one of the CNC machines cutting our pickup bobbins from a sheet of Vulcnized Fiber. These will become the core assemblies for 5 and 6-string Dual Coil bass pickups. The fiber is quite tricky to machine but at this stage of development we don't need large numbers of component parts.

Our objective is to assemble and test these pickups and if they are as impressive as we hope they will be, to incorporate them into a couple of upcoming instruments.

If we are able to get these done in time we would like to introduce them at the 2008 NAM show. We still have some extensive testing to do between now and then to fine-tune the process and create the sound we are looking for.

While we will standardize with our own pickups in our instruments, we are happy to build a bass or guitar using any pickups you personally prefer.
Last update January 21, 2009