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Don Mare Pickups - 100% vintage tone reproduction is found here, 14 years in Service! Its all about Vintage here, and nothing else, our entire focus is aimed at recapturing every detail. 1000's of Vintage Purist /Customers will agree!, Real 50's vintage magic happens here.
Review of the S.T. Bakersfield (formerly "Blackzilla") from John O'Keeffe:
"Hey Don Played my T-style out for the first time last night since I put the S.T. Bakersfield set in it, thing sounds awesome! The bridge has that full on T-style snark that I love, you hit the twang right on the head there. The neck surprised me a little, I play mostly on the bridge or the middle position, I kept finding myself on the neck alone last night enjoying how clean and live it sounds, none of the usual mud I used to find below the 4th fret with the stock pup's. An old country player like me couldn't ask for any better, even our drummer knew I did something to the guitar, that's saying something when a drummer hears a difference. Thanks for the great pickups. - John O'Keeffe"
Thanks for the great pickups! Watching various threads a couple of years ago, I watched with great interest as you reported on your continuing development of the Roy Buchanan pickups. I own a 51 T-style and a 57' S-style but don't take them out much anymore. I've tried a bunch of pickups in my custom shop and while most sound good, none capture what really makes the good 50s pickups so unique. Your stuff that I've tried using friends' guitars plus clips of your products far outdistances the rest of the pickups out there now. I think you have shown that old wood is not as important as the pickup in getting all the subtle nuances of 50s guitars. I can't believe I just said that, but I really believe it's true when using Don Mare pickups.I have been a Roy B. nut pre the original airing of the PBS special.The way you have captured ALL the Roy B.sound nuances should make anyone a believer! Thanks for all your hard work-hope you can make some $ at this!!!!!
I called earlier from London but the international phone line was really bad. I just wanted to thank you so much for the 4709 you sent over to me. I have installed it in my Mexican T style and it genuinely makes the thing sound 40 years older than it is, I simply cannot believe the quality that you achieve; I did not think something as simple as a pickup upgrade could give a fairly run of the mill instrument such a gigantic facelift.
I worked as a salesman with one of the biggest hitting mail order guitar stores in the UK, they shift 10,000 to 12,000 guitars per year worldwide and I have played a hell of a lot of Fenders®. Nothing I have ever come accross has made such a dramatic difference to the tone of an instrument as the 4709 pickup, it honestly sounds like I paid £1000 more for my guitar than I actually did.
Do you have any plans in distributing and marketing your product in the UK? If so I would be genuinely interested in getting involved because frankly your product is far superior to anything comparable I have heard.
Mike B." __________________________________________________
Well, we got the pickup in today.... and YOU'RE A FREAKIN' GENIUS!
I noticed the difference right away when I started playing it with your pickup. Everything I played just sounded freakin' killer. Bakersfield twang, bluesy bends, the damn thing is just perfect!
I am not a pickup guy, but you used the word "sweet" sounding. I would totally agree. It's sweeter sounding now, more even across the 6 strings. Just fantastic.
So--thanks again man. I'm a happy customer!"
-Deke Dickerson ____________________________________________ "I need to tell y'all something about DonM (Don Mare).
I'm a vintage nut and I have owned and played a fair number of blackpick-guard, early '50s . They were all nice, a couple were truly magical. One of the "magical" one was a '52 owned by a good friend of mine by the name of Joel Foy. I knew the guitar well, having refretted it and played it quite a bit. It had that otherworldly bridge pickup that only compared to the one in a '51 I once owned and foolishly sold, and a '54 I currently own.
One day Joel called and told me his bridge pickup died and asked if I knew anybody who could make it whole again. I told him that every single great old pickup I've ever had rewound lost some magic in the process. I gave him some names of people who could fix it and told him it would never be the same.
A few weeks later Joel called again and told me that he found this (then) unknown guy by the name of Don Mare who rewound the pickup for him. He also said that it sounded just like it did before it broke.
Now, knowing how rare it is even among vintage black-pick-guard type T-guitars to find a pickup that had this much otherworldly magic as this '52 once had, I really found that hard to believe. But I also never knew Joel to be a bullshitter, and he has great ears.
So I called up Don and sent him a busted '52 pickup and asked him to fix it up like he did Joel's.
To make a long story short, that pickup is now one of the best vintage pickups I've ever heard. I couldn't believe it. It was just "right" in every way. My current favorite is an unreal sounding blackguard '54 Esquire® that I will never part with. It's in that top 1% of vintage that are so elusive,and these days pretty much unobtainable except for sheer luck. I can drop Don's rewind into that guitar and it loses nothing. There is no other new/rewound pickup I've ever heard that I could say that about.
So there, the man knows what he's doing. I don't think I've ever posted about this, and I'm not in the habit of raving about the latest and greatest.
Anyway, Don, I don't know if you even remember me, but I don't think I ever even thanked you for that pickup. It now resides in a '60s that was great to begin with and your pickup improved upon near perfection. Thanks."
More reviews & e-mails sent to Don Mare's Pickups:
"Dear SIR, OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! Oh MY GOD! I can't put my guitar down. What planet are you from? The neck pickup is the smoothest, glassiest, warmest, richest, most vintage sounding hunk of tone I have ever heard. My T-style sounds like a s-style at the flip of a switch. The one I could never find Seriously! Oh, but the bridge, THE BRIDGE! The bridge is just nasty. Dirtier than a 4 dollar Tijuana hooker. No pick. No shrill. Harmonic as all hell. She growls and bites and snarls more than any humbucker I've ever played and it just keeps getting better. The more I play the more I love you. Two little pickups. 3 little positions. Yet, sooooooooo many tonal possibilities. I took it down to my local luthier genius (he said it sounded better than most real vintage, he's had come through his doors) and all the guys in the shop gathered round and refused to believe the specs. These things can go from a whisper to a scream effortlessly. I might have to order another set for the next life in case we don't end up in the same realm. OK, enough of that. Thank you very very much. I will sing praises of your name to every player I ever encounter throughout all my days. I couldn't be happier. Keep on keepin' on. It is comforting to know there are guys like you out there. Great product, great customer service. Thank you! "
"Hi Don, Got my pickups today. Now I've had botique pickups in my 52Ri (Made In Japan ) from all over the place never been blown away by any of them. Yes they sound different some better than others. You know the story. Thats till I got this "Green Onion" set. Wow these things sound "Great." Hollow tone, complexity, vintage clank nice cut without being overly bright. Clean straight into my Plexi or through my Blue Collar overdrive. Both neck and bridge sound fantastic.
Many Thanks, David."
I don't mind at all if you want to make use of my comments about the rewind job you did on the pickups. I feel its only fair to tell you that mine is not a name, that anybody but a small circle of my friends is going to recognize, though. Some further observations, based on my experiences with aftermarket pickup makers -- Chances are pretty fair that most players will find an acceptable degree of satisfaction with pickups from most of the popular aftermarket purveyors. Each of these brands have established a reputation for making a quality product that will produce a good sound that, in most cases will be perceived by the end user as a definite improvement over the stock set.
But what is out there for the player who has a more highly evolved ear than the average hobbyist? A good number of us have been playing for many years have gone through several arsenals worth of gear over that time, and have developed a very discerning ear when it comes to assessing the components that make up professional- grade tone. But we don't possess a name that allows us entree to the inner sanctum of the Custom Shops of the world. So we've had to settle for better, knowing that best will most likely be reserved for those with the clout to have that level of artifice made available to them.
Well there is now an alternative. Don Mare is a man who has put countless hours of time and energy towards unlocking the secrets of what makes pickups sound the way they do, and then recreating the best of the best and making them available to those who want the best. His pickups are made one at a time by Don himself, and they are professional grade thoroughbreds of the highest pedigree."
The pickups (Fralin rewinds) arrived in the mail on Friday. On Saturday afternoon I put 'em in, along with the cap you sent, along with them, slapped on a new set of pure nickel strings, and commenced to dialing them in. Had to take a break to run some errands, and came back to it later that evening when I could spend some quality time to get the height adjustments just right. Don -- I could not be happier with them! There are several particular features that I look for in a set of pickups, all of which are very much present in this set. First off, do they produce a good sound, devoid of shrill or dissonant frequencies. Does each pickup have a good tone for the position it occupies, or does it achieve it's tonal character by simple virtue of where it happens to be mounted? And this next characteristic is, for me, the acid test -- every pickup has a tonal sweet spot in terms of heighth adjustment -- the spot where the pickup simply sounds it's best. I find that this can often come down to as little as an eighth of a turn on the adjustment screw. Where most sets fall short, after making this adjustment on each of the three pickups, is that you are left with too much variance in volume when toggling through pickup settings. So you end up having to compromise, sacrificing a little on the tonal sweet spot side to achieve balance on the volume side. Not the case with this set. When I finished adjusting each pickup for it's most pleasing tone, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that the balance volume-wise between the five position settings was automatically ideal. In my experience, this is truly an astounding achievement. I have to say -- the difference in tone between each of the five positions is so dramatic, that I feel like I've never really played a until now. I've most certainly never had the experience of playing one that produces such a dramatic variety of high quality tones, and we all know that what we hear most definitely effects what and how we play. Oh -- another impressive feature! I've never played a that had a middle pickup sound that I had any use for, all by itself. Not so with this one -- it has a sound that I will find a lot of use for!
String definition is there in spades. The balance within each pickup between the treble and bass frequencies is there, with an ample helping of both sides of the spectrum. They sound clear and clean, and are the real deal, my man.
"Thanks Don! I went between my 52 and your (Joel Foy pickups) and they really sounded great!"
"Don, Got the pickups and installed them. I have to say they are wonderful! The best pickups I’ve heard. but these take the cake. The Nancy mod is cool too. Very interesting what it does to the middle and bass positions. It’s as close to Roy as I have heard. I’ll give you a more balanced, review when I’ve had time to break them in.
Thanks so much for everything and take care, -Rick P.S. I’ll send some soundfiles when I have a few minutes if you want to hear them."