South Downs Pickups by SMB guitars

My own brand of pickups “South Downs Pickups” are hand-wound in my workshop in Milland, situated in the beautiful South Downs National Park. I spent a great deal of time in the national lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 designing and building my own range of pickups, and the result was the birth of “South Downs Pickups”. The premise of SDP was simple; and that’s exactly it SIMPLE.

When customers approached me asking about what pickups to upgrade their stock guitar with, they more often than not say something along the lines of “…there’s so much to choose from, I don’t know where to begin”, or “I’m not sure whether to get pickup A or pickup B”. With some of the Major companies offering in excess of 100 pickups, there is a mass of information and sound clips to listen to; and coupled with online forums, YouTube reviews, and other sources, it can quickly become overwhelming and confusing.

So, I came up with the concept for South Downs Pickup;

“Excellent, honest, handwound tone, using only the highest quality materials in 3 distinct voices: Vintage, Vintage Hot, and Contemporary.”

The 3 different ranges of my pickups incorporate, Humbuckers, Tele sets, Strat sets and P90s. They are named after different peaks in the South Downs National Park, each with its own style in mind.

BEACON: (vintage)

Named after the Ancient Hillfort at Beacon Hill in Harting West Sussex which dates back to the iron age; and similarly the Beacon pickups are backdated but vintage in voice, harking back to the 1950s and 60s. Beacons for Strat will be balanced and full, while Beacons for Tele will have bite on the neck and plenty of twang on the bridge. Ideal for players who want to hear their guitars voice..

BUTSER: (vintage hot)

You’ll need plenty of grunt and energy if you want to walk to the top of Butser Hill in Hampshire, and this is mirrored in the Butser range of pickups. Taking influence from the overwound hot pickups of the 1970s and 80s, expect the humbuckers to break up an amp that’s on the edge, and for the strats to sing with some overdrive. Great for players wanting to cut through in the mix.

BLACKDOWN: (contemporary)

Blackdown is the highest point in the Southdowns National Park, and so it is also the highest output range of pickup that I make. The pickups in the Blackdown range are designed with the modern player in mind, they are able to handle overdrives and distortion with ease whilst retaining clarity and note definition. These are for those wanting to push boundaries and get the most from their guitar.

What People are saying:

“….very SRV, twangy, bright, crisp, clear and bell-like with the ability to drive more easily than other strat pickups I’ve owned” C. Beckerson. Butser for Strat

“Extremely happy with the result. They have added more power and more bite and they have a great tone. Think of the big chords in ‘Pinball Wizard’. They sound nice and warm at low volume too.” Jaime West-Oram: The Fixx. Butser P90s

“Simon’s ear for tone, coupled with making skills have produced a great set of pickups for our modern high expectation of what guitars should sound like these days. Clearly influenced by the past, taking the best bits and merging with up-to-date knowledge to produce a fantastic result” J.McAdam. Beacon for Strat


Single coils from £90 – Set of 3 from £265

Telecaster and P90 sets from £175

Humbuckers from £145 – Pair from £275

I also make a whole range of other guitar and bass pickups including:

Jazzmaster, jaguar, mini humbucker and firebird, P bass, jazz bass, humbucker sized P90s, plus many more.

I can also wind pickups to your own specification, if there is something specific you want. Contact me for more details.