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Little Charley Blade Pickups: SD Pickups, Custom Hand-Wound Pickups by Dave Stephens, Stephens Design


(Please note these are my most expensive pickups at $285 each, because of the intense amount of time required to make one completely by hand).

Marco Savo, a master of the jump blues style, is one of the hosts at our jam. He plays a Charlie Christian model guitar from 1937, an ES-150 with the original blade pickup. The tone he gets from this ancient pickup and guitar has always been astonishing to me, and inspired me to try to get "that sound."

My original Little Charley is a bright, crisp tone machine, works well for Jazz, blues etc. some use a 250K pot with this but my sound clips are all with 500K pots. And now we have the new Fat Charley...


The new Fat Charley uses a fatter blade, different magnet wire and winding pattern, and comes even closer to the real deal ES150 tones. This pickup has a little thicker tone the the L.C. and is really awful darn close to the real deal tone. I have studied and done more measurements on Marco's guitar and made about 12 prototype winds and blades before finally getting this one down, alot of work but the results paid off. (Photo coming soon).

Thanks to Cliff White for helping in the testing o this pickup, here are a string of samples he made for me: Fat Charley jazz samples


Blades typically have a nice midrange honk that is very horn-like. That is probably why Charlie Christian and a lot of the early jazz guys loved the sound so much and played them well into the early 60's.

Of course, there is no string fade-out when bending notes. This pickup is really suited to archtop style guitars and recommended only for neck position. And, man oh man, it sure sounds great in neck position on a tele, if you have a tele it will fit. What's more, that horn sound has a nice, crisp high end.

Hand-wound, with vintage cloth-covered wire, steel blade and Forbon bobbins. The top is decorated with router-cut black laminate pickguard material, for a funky tasteful cool look with the Charley Christian traditional diamond shape. The pickup body is available in matte black plastic or nickel silver (extra charge).

I only recommend this pickup for archtop style guitars and cheaper teles that have swimming pool routs. I have two new tele neck blade pickups now available on the Ice-House tele page that fit stock tele neck routs and have classic blade tone in two amazing flavors!

Click to hear the Little Charley Blade played through a '73 Princeton, installed in an Ibanez Artcore archtop guitar, with 11 gauge flatwound strings. Played clean, then dirty. Also check the reviews page for gig samples.


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