The Rise FROM THE Retrofit Pickup

Given the ever-present demand among guitarists for highly specific sonic characteristics, it can seem incredible today that it took such a long time for the retrofit/aftermarket pickup trend to take off. But in the first years of overdriven rock acoustic guitar, the thought of mass-market substitute pickups appeared an improbable situation. Clapton had switched from Gibson guitars with humbuckers, to the lower-gain single coils of a Fender Strat, and if anything, for some time at the start of the ’70s, lower output was where things looked to be heading. Hendrix was still fresh in memory and exerting a huge influence over new guitarists… The stock Fender single coil was sufficient for the guitar gods of the day.

Were guitarists really heading to spend extra cash buying louder, ballsier pickups? Whilst it’s widely stated that Larry DiMarzio was the first to offer alternative party replacement electric guitar pickups ready made, in reality, technology and guitarist innovator Expenses Lawrence has that honor. Lawrence was offering his ‘own brand’ True-Sound pickups as early as the mid-1960s – years before DiMarzio started developing his first product. Indeed, Larry DiMarzio and Kent Armstrong (another pickup luminary, for those who don’t know the name) were informed in their build by Bill Lawrence. In 1977, DiMarzio filed a patent, supposedly stopping other manufacturers from producing humbuckers with dual cream-coloured bobbins (even though Gibson had made dual cream humbuckers long before).

Market competitors Seymour Duncan don’t, as a result, list any double cream humbuckers. DiMarzio’s patent, however, seems so hazy in conditions of the guarded color concerning be meaningless. I’m guessing the patent could pretty easily be challenged or loopholes, and is noticed more out of courtesy than requirement. Larry DiMarzio began developing his landmark Super Distortion high result humbucker in 1971. That wouldn’t have been long after he first learned the finer factors of pickup winding under Bill Lawrence.

DiMarzio Inc. cites the Super Distortion to be released in 1972, but I’m uncertain what kind of introduction this might have been really. Initially, Larry DiMarzio was selling and then friends and this progressed to a mail-order procedure before any sort of major distribution system was set up.

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No time frame is given for the progression, in imprinted matter from three years ago even, and DiMarzio themselves provide virtually no published info on the business’s early life. However, as late as 1974 even, DiMarzio’s pickup production was evidently very limited, and if you try to trace any DiMarzio pickups made previous to ’74 actually, there’s a definite absence of any credible statements of ownership. I wasn’t on the picture at the time, so I can’t make a personal assessment.

But my sense would be that the pickup replacement increase became popular in earnest during the second fifty percent of the 1970s, and not in the early area of the decade as it might show up initially. What isn’t in any doubt, is that the SDHP Super Distortion humbucker was included with a raised deter.

Guitarists cannot go to a shop and buy an electric guitar whose existing pickups do the actual Super Distortion does. This wasn’t about refined vintage idiosyncrasies. Any idiot could hear that a Super Distortion does something other pickups didn’t. If guitarists desired that type of raucous power, amp thickness, and saturation of build without suffering degradation from booster circuitry, they’d have to get a brilliant Distortion. The Super Distortion’s USP would continue to define the DiMarzio brand – striking, powerfully-voiced, and modern pickups, targeted at heavy rock guitarists mainly.