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Dave at Duff's Garage: SD Pickups, Custom Hand-Wound Pickups by Dave Stephens, Stephens Design Meet Dave Stephens: SD Pickups, Custom Hand-Wound Pickups by Dave Stephens, Stephens Design
Dave in his workshop: SD Pickups, Custom Hand-Wound Pickups by Dave Stephens, Stephens Design

Hello! My name is Dave Stephens, not Stephen. The local blues guys all call me “Possum” at the clubs. Maybe I’ll see you there and you can try my pickups — they’re in all my guitars.

My background is in music industry marketing, graphic and Web design. I have won major awards for some music industry names you probably know.

I have been playing guitar since I was about 14 years old. It’s in my blood; I’ve never been able to put it down. I’ve always been obsessed with music, mostly blues, but I listen to good jazz and anything good and appreciate true talent, no matter the field.

This obsession with guitars and music has dominated my professional life to the point that virtually all my major graphic design clients have been in the music industry. Two you will no doubt recognize have been EMG Pickups and Shrapnel Records.
I serviced EMG Pickups for nearly 14 years and helped put them on the map by giving them a professional image in all their advertising, promotional materials and trade show graphics. My work for them has won many awards.

I have also worked with Shrapnel Records for over 20 years, designing most of their album covers and all their ads and trade show materials. I have dealt with many of their musicians, including Greg Howe, Frank Gamabale, Steve Smith, Robben Ford, Jason Becker and Marty Friedman, Scott Henderson, Jimmy Haslip, Rick Derringer, Pat Travers, Eric Gales and more. It’s been a joy to work with them and help a small, important company bring so many unbelievably talented musicians to the world.

I’m an “Army brat.” My dad was in the Army Signal Corps and is a ham operator. I was around electronics, tubes and transformers all my life at home, so making pickups and working on amps is natural for me. My grandmother was a musician who played classical and honky tonk piano. She bought me my first guitar when I was 14.

In another “life” I was also a nationally known jewelry artist and lapidary guy. In fact, I had the very first art jewelry Web site on the Internet back in ’95. I’ve always liked making things, and my metalsmithing skills carry over to making fine quality pickups by hand.

So, my life has always been immersed in music, electronics and art. Now I have a product of my own to sell (instead of promoting everybody else’s toys). My intent is to put great sounding pickups in your hands and give your guitar the best stage voice possible. I am now making pickups full time and not doing album art anymore, the pursuit of tone has totally taken over my life!

I live in the Northwest near Portland with my wife Suzanne and our pets. We both love the Portland area, where I occasionally attend blues jams, playing and testing pickup designs. I’ve learned a lot from master musicians Suburban Slim and Marco Savo, who host the Duff’s Garage Blues Jam. I have sound clips of their playing in the reviews section of this site.

Other than playing the jams, and making pickups I’m a hermit night owl. I make pickups when no one else is awake. I sincerely hope to help you in your quest to have pickups that inspire your guitar playing to new heights.

–Dave Stephens

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