Catswhisker pickups
Email : allan@catswhiskerpickups.co.uk Mail: allan@catswhiskerpickups.co.uk Catswhisker 2

Somewhere, there must be photos of some of the earlier guitars that I made which will doubtless surface one day, but here is a selection of some of my efforts over the years in roughly chronological order and some of the other guitars that I have owned.

Judging by the dodgy wallpaper, this one must be from the 70’s. The body is actually made from polyester resin which I cast in a cardboard mould lined with sticky tape so that the mould could be peeled off when the casting was set.  The neck was maple with a Pear wood fretboard that I made out of an old “T” square.  Pickups I seem to recall were made by Antoria which Kay Westwoods in Brum used to sell.  Powerful sounding guitar through a Vox AC30 but it weighed a ton.

This one must have been around the late 70’s because I remember playing it when I was at University. It’s made entirely of Oak except for the rosewood fretboard.  The pickups are most likely DiMarzios (Super Distortions??) and there are a pair of mini toggle between the pots for coil splitting.  Another heavy guitar that was also put through the Vox.

To the left is one that I knocked up using an old Shergold neck taken from a Masquerader.  The Masquerader was the first off the peg guitar that I bought, again courtesy of Kay Westwoods , it had a nice neck but was let down by pretty poor pickups and a a body made from tinder.  So I kept the neck and put it on this mahogany body.  The pickups that you see on this blue marvel were real PAF’s which were later removed and now reside in my mates John Diggins SG.

The guitar to the right has a maple/mahogany construction with an HSS pickup layout.  I went with individual mini toggles for selecting the pickups rather than a sequential switch, so obviously I could combine any or all of the pickups at the same time.  Another DiMarzio in the bridge, can’t remember where the single coils came from.

Catswhisker 1

The last of the early ones.  Wenge neck, Ebony fretboard and a Teak body and a pair of Bill Lawrence pickups - can’t remember the model name but they are the ones with the 12 slug pole magnets.  Nice sounding pickups and with the Teak body they made for a bright , zingy sounding guitar.

Now we are most definitely in the late 80’s.  In the intervening period, I went through a succession of name guitars which you can see further down this page, but I got back into making my own gear around this time and this was the first one from the current run.  Lovely Honduras mahogany body, Rosewood+Ebony neck and a pair of Dimarzios.  A nice sounding guitar and the pickups worked really well with the construction.  Standard three way toggle and a just two push/pull volume pots (no tone) for series/parallel humbucking on each pickup.

This one now belongs to my son and was my first crack at a carved top. The maple has a lovely mixture of flame and quilt to it.  The only problem with lovely flames and quilts is that the grain ducks and dives, changes direction and makes for very time consuming carving - rush it and you risk ripping chunks of grain out. Along with the previous guitar, the finish is nitro cellulose which takes a while to fully harden off - I found from experience that it’s best to leave it well alone for a couple of weeks after spraying.  I also found that if the nitro is kept nice and thick (providing you have a decent compressor and spray gun) that you can get a glass like finish without having to mess around with buffing.  Pickups on this one are Catswhiskers now, both tapped humbuckers that can be switched from 7.6k to 10k. I think when the picture was taken it was a Seymour Stag Mag in the bridge and a 59 at the neck.

Catswhisker 4

Another heavy guitar, this time in solid Padauk which I think is an overlooked wood for guitar construction. It’s naturally oily so doesn’t need a finish and tonally bright and very resonant.  The fretboard is Ebony which I’ve pretty much settled upon these days as my preference and the frets are stainless steel, which from experience so far will outlive me. The pickguard is real carbon fibre plate and the bridge I machined from stainless steel - there’s also a stainless block in the rear of the guitar to anchor the strings. Built like a tank.  The pickups are Cats again; S-Bucker at the bridge and a pair of model S. Sustains for ever.

Catswhisker 5

Walnut body and a Pau Ferro neck this time. A reasonably light guitar as mine go and the only time I’ve bothered with a trem which is an LR Baggs piezo job (hence the two toggle switches) and is a piece of kit that I can thoroughly recommend.

Locking tuners on this and a pair of S-Buckers for pickups.  Pau Ferro is another wood that doesn’t need a finish, I just feed it with lemon oil now and again.


Apart from the current work in progress which is a Bubinga bodied double cut, that’s it for the home made axes, so onto the guitars that I’ve bought and played, again in approximately chronological order.

Les Paul Standard

This was my pride and joy for many years until I had a financial crisis and it now belongs to a very nice bloke in Finland.  Its a 1988/89 Les Paul Standard with a Heritage Cherry sunburst top which I bought from new for the princely sum of £629. The only disappointment with this guitar were the original pickups which were far to muddy for my liking and soon got replaced with the pair of Seymour Duncans that you can see here.

MM Silhouette

A Musicman Silhouette that I bought second hand through an ad in a local paper, so we’re probably in Pre-Ebay days for the UK at least.  A nice guitar to play but I eventually decided that the whammy wasn’t particularly my cup of tea, so I part exchanged it for the SG.

Catswhisker 3 Gibson SG P90

This is actually one of the Townsend SG’s that they flogged a few years ago (not one of the expensive ones signed by the man himself) and the guitar that I had the P90’s re-wound for.  I kept the original coils from the pickups and reinstated them when someone made me an offer I would have been daft to refuse for it.

Gibson Blueshawk

A Blueshawk.  Natty wiring arrangement on this that utilises a dummy coil in the rear of the guitar between the two pickups to kill the hum.  The pickups are “Blues 90’s” which are basically P90 coils with slug magnets instead of bar magnets.  I kept this one for a while and enjoyed playing it, the only thing in retrospect was that I wish I’d bought the version without the trem because I never used it and it looked a bit big for the guitar.

Kramer 450G Kramer 650G Kramer 350G

Left to right, Kramer 350G, 450G and 650G.  I came to the conclusion in this period that the harder, more rigid the neck on a guitar that the more resonant and clear it sounds and I went through a period when I owned these three aluminium necked guitars.  The pickups on the 350 and the 650 I believe were hand wound by Mighty Mite early on (I could be wrong) and they sound superb. The 450 had a set of DiMarzios made specially for Kramer and were fairly high output single coils with hex poles and bar magnets underneath.  I developed Reynauds syndrome (although its a lot better now) and the aluminium being most times a bit cold meant that I had to go back to wooden necks and these girls were sold off.

The 650 is a cracking guitar.

Hamer Eclipse Hamer Studio Custom Hamer Special

Three Hamers; an Eclipse, a Studio Custom and a Special.  Hamer make some superb guitars and are absolute bargains at second hand prices.

I wish that I still had the Studio but unfortunately it was another victim of  the financial crisis and went at the same time as the Les Paul.  The Special I gave to my son for his 21st and the Eclipse was sold on after many years of enjoyable use.

If you can get hold of an Eclipse, they really are nice guitars for the money (Hamer no longer make them in the USA as far as I know) and they are solid Honduras mahogany with very good quality rosewood fretboards.

The pickups on all of these are Seymour Duncan.


Pacifica 112 Godin SP90 PRS SE Semi

Yamaha Pacifica 12, Godin LGP90 and PRS SE Semi hollow.

The Pacificas are brilliant value for money and really the pickups are AOK as well. I have occasional  fads with 12 strings but always end up moving them on which  is what happened to this one.

Godin make some cracking guitars and I particularly like this one - mahogany body, a pair of P90’s (now Catswhiskers) and a superb wide neck that suits me down  to the ground.  Again, for the money you can’t go wrong.

The SE is another guitar that is excellent value for the money and made to very high quality.  I sold this one onto thin out the herd, pickups are Ranger DLX’s

Carvin CS4 Royale

I only keep a few guitars around me now, so there’s the Godin, a couple of my home brews and these two.

The gold top is a Carvin CS4 which I reckon is one of the best guitars that I have ever owned and the beauty of Carvin is that you can within reason customise your guitar as part of the ordering process.  I’ll state the obvious and say that I have no affiliation with Carvin or any of the other manufacturers on this page, but Carvin really are worth checking out.

The Royale was hand made for me by Kevin Chilcott of Royale guitars and he is one seriously talented bloke.  If you are in the market for a bespoke instrument, you wont go wrong.

That wraps it all up but if your other half ever whinges about your GAS problem, you can show her this page at least demonstrate that your a not a lone offender!

And I’ve missed at least six out.