The story behind one of the industry’s
most in-demand pickup makers
What fuels the impulse to re-create vintage gear? Is it just the satisfaction of achieving an exact copy, or is it the itch to recapture that thing that gave the originals their spark? For Lollar Pickups, it’s always been the latter. A 1979 graduate of Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, Jason Lollar started his career building guitars but quickly became better known as a go-to guy for the pickups he would hand-wind himself. Requests started coming in for specific models and vintage repairs, and soon Jason was riffing off the classics to create his own designs. By nailing the attributes in some of the best-loved pickups, but not hesitating to tweak the design where he saw a weakness, Jason developed a range of tonally superb pickups that were also consistent, reliable, and replicable.
“I think the most important feature of any of our products is that we put sound first,” says Stephanie Lollar, who co-owns Lollar Pickups. “We don’t always use the same materials or manufacturing methods as the originals, but we always make sure the pickup sounds right, and is something we would want in our personal instruments.”
Once an informal one-man shop, Lollar Pickups became “official” after Jason and Stephanie co-authored their book Basic Pickup Winding and Complete Guide to Making Your Own Pickup Winder in the mid-’90s. The book would bring in requests from some of the industry’s top guitar makers, raising Lollar’s profile among manufacturers and consumers alike. Today the company does most of its “bread-and-butter” business in Strat- and Tele-style pickups, P90s, and humbuckers, though it also makes some original designs that can’t be found anywhere else. Making many of its parts in-house and sourcing the highest-quality materials possible, the company stresses consistency at every step of the build process, says Stephanie.
“Rather than chasing changing trends, we’ve always focused on quality above and beyond anything else. We want our pickups to be around 50 years from now. We’ve found the idea of ‘make it sound great, look great, and last forever’ is a popular one, and never goes out of style.”
Located for years on Vashon Island off the Seattle coast, Lollar recently moved to a new production facility in downtown Tacoma—more than tripling its square footage and escaping the difficulties of doing business on an island. As Stephanie says, the new address means much improved shipping logistics, a more accessible location for touring artists, and even a larger skilled talent pool to hire from. With plans to add to its staff in the immediate future, the company has always kept its manufacturing entirely in the U.S. “Around the world, quality matters,” says Stephanie. “Though manufacturing costs in America are higher than some other countries, the end results of top-notch products, impeccable quality control, and great customer service have always made it worth the extra time and expense.”
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