lipstick pickups


One of my favorite stories in guitar history is the “lipstick tube” pickup.

Pickups are the little microphones in an electric guitar that take the noise from the strings and transmit them to the amplifier. Usually they look like a bar with a row of metal dots on them.

When Danelectro started making guitars for Sears in the 1950′s, they had to get those bad boys out the door mass-production style. They had to do it cheap while also not sounding like rotting ass.

“How the hell are we gonna do this without going broke?”

“Um … I got an idea. We got a stack of lipstick tubes, right?”

“Yeah … ?”

“Okay, take a magnet, wrap a wire around it, tape it up and throw it in the lipstick tube.”

It was one of the doofiest, low-tech hacks imaginable.  It also created a tone that guitar players to this day actively seek out and manufacturers strive to reproduce.

All thanks to lipstick.