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The Myth of the Magic

Disclaimer: The following is an editorial. The basis is my own experience and it will contain significant content from opinion. There will also be verifiable facts.

“Magic” is a word that gets a lot of usage. So does “mojo” Especially with the so-called mysterious art of pickup winding. To go deeper, even more so where a company’s marketing can appear to be more about personalities than products. And by “personalities”, I’m not suggesting the artist roster, but the company staff. Now, there are really only a couple of genuinely significant pickup companies that are “household names” among players of most any level. And from that, there is really only one that makes such an investment in trying to sell the personalities of the employees for marketing purposes.

And that is really going to open it up to egos playing in to the scenario. Keep telling someone they are the “queen” and they are going to start to believe it. That’s a recipe for extreme or excessive pride or dangerous overconfidence. Conceit. Vanity. Pomposity. Vainglory. You know… hubris. There are scholars that consider pride to be one of the worst of the deadly sins, prompting people to act impulsively and against common sense. I think you get the point.

Guitarists “Buy In” To Marketing
myth of magic marketing

As I often point out, guitar players can be some real tightwads. LOL! The relevance of that point is that there are literally hundreds of companies (big and small) that make and sell pickups. If each of those only offer about a half-dozen models, that’s over a thousand options. How many tightwads are going to try them all? Better yet, there are not many that go outside of a single brand. That means that a company has to grab players by the marketing,

What better way than the appearance of a reluctant Abuela being called away from the kitchen for a favor. Not even looking for a job. Real sort of folksy stuff, know what I mean? But there is nothing new about that. Ladies have always been keen at the art of winding coils, back to the very earliest PAFs out of Kalamazoo. The seamstress skills than many women had at that time was ideal, due to the advanced fine motor skills working with thin thread. Makes sense.

Yet there is nothing magic about the 1980s pickups coming from those hands. The machine does the lion’s share of the work. They were not “hand wound”. How many pickups do you think make it out the door each day if a person is winding 7000 turns per bobbin by hand? Especially at a specific thread pitch and a particular tension. It’s not happening. Oh… well, then… “hand guided”! If you’re talking about one of the highest-selling hot-rod humbuckers in history… nope. Even the older winding machines can handle several bobbins at a time. No one is “hand guiding” 4 bobbins at one time. Yes, the machine had to be set up, but there’s not much magic in that. Training, yes. Magic, no.

Same As It Ever Was


Any pickup from that production shop made in the 1980s is as good as the next, no matter the association of the employee’s name. In fact, this person is only there for part of the decade. Why are people paying so much more for something made by a new employee?

Marketing. That’s right. Mental manipulation. Not magic.

Oh, but the older ones from the 1980s sound better. Yes. They do. But not just that model. Why? Because things change. This is not a new concept on this website. The changes in QC and continuous improvement across the decades is the difference. The lack of tighter tolerances on wire insulation means each spool of wire was a snowflake. And not just each spool, but each yard. Each foot, in some instances. It’s the little imperfections that sound better to human ears. Look at the analog renaissance of vinyl, for example.

Nothing magic about that.

Game Of Thrones

As can happen with a company, things can change. The person with the name on the building can develop health issues and need to take a far lesser presence. Logic might suggest that an option can be that the person that actually owns the company can take front and center. Except that they are renowned in the industry for just not being all that likable. With the more personality-based marketing approach, the absence can be backfilled with someone that is essentially the teacher’s pet.

Oh! But I bought one from that company’s boutique shop and it sounds better than production! Yep. It probably does. Considering that many of the production models are made on a CNC with even less human hands-on. You can get different winding machines at the boutique level, prompting those idiosyncrasies that tweak human hearing. Or better yet, and this is quite common. Confirmation bias. It must sound better because you paid more for it. And you don’t want to look like a chump in front of your pals.

There’s also nothing magic about screwing up boutique orders. Probably the most heinous being dead magnets, or rather an uncharged magnet. At one time, the QC was a little more iron-clad and caught before shipping. Yes, it’s incredible what one can hear from people still within the company. LOL!

Where’s the magic in cutting corners and taking shortcuts on products ordered from the boutique factory? It’s lazy. There’s no mojo in that. A “queen” doesn’t do that. Rocky Balboa would call that person a bum.

If You Know, You Know
myth of magic wand

Disclaimer, pt 2: The original intention was not to make this about me. Those within the industry that are in-the-know did suggest that I refer to some level or personal experience to clarify this article has basis in more than postulation. But sustained firsthand knowledge.

With my own orders, the errors go back for years. It would take a dedicated article into itself to cover the screwups. But I let most of them slide. In the rare instance it was bad enough, I’d ship it directly back to the boutique department to be fixed. So as to not broadcast that there had been an error. Damned considerate, if you ask me. Haha! But when it got to be an error with almost every order, it becomes a problem with the company changes the return procedure and the errors have to be made known.

On this one order, there were items that flat out had to be resolved. It had to go through the channels and there was no hiding the service failures. The ego involved cannot cope the revelation. Rather than own the situation or address aggravation toward the new system that revealed the errors, I’m the scapegoat. This person is a master at blaming other people. Most of what I’ve seen has to do with blaming employees (past and present) for things that I know, when they were the ones to tell me.

Still, I must suffer retribution for denying that not every nugget is a mystical snowflake. The realization of vengeance is feeding another cock and bull story through internal channels. Far from the first time they, nor others within the organization, will act out against a customer like that. That’s right. If you only could only know what they think about the customers.

How does the Voodoo relate to You-doo?
myth of magic voodoo

No matter the condition of the economy at any given time, people want the best for their money. And how people spend their money is also an endorsement of how that company conducts their business. For example, if you are for animal rights, you may choose for products that are made without being tested on animals. Or how about gender equality? Who else sees the one gear company that is so female-centric is the sales campaigns that it’s as if they forgot that dudes play guitar too? Just saying.

And that list can go on as nauseum. Pick your personal agenda, and you have the right to choose how your well-earned money is spent (or not spent) toward companies that align with your own preferences. Personally, I’m prefer to avoid doing business with a company that disrespects customers and are not mature enough to own up to their errors. Add to that, it appears that they do not believe enough in the product to let it sell itself without conjuring tall tales of non-existent “mojo”.

So then, remove all the marketing noise and ask yourself. Are you honestly buying something based on the empirical quality of the product unto itself? Or have you fallen under the magic of the voodoo spell?

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