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What People Say

Hi Curtis, they sound fantastic mate

"I played the Tele through a Fender Princeton Black face and it rocks!!"

Many thanks.
Fred Fairbrass

Hey Curtis, I've been able to put the new tele/strat neck/humbucker Replitar through some test laps, and oh my God, she's a winner!

"Everybody from Rock gods to blues purists to ace young guitar students at my Musicscool just can't put it down once they pick it up. But they can't have her, she's mine!

As a multi-decade vintage tone freak and single coil fender fan, as well as someone who has to do most of his recording these days sitting in front of an LCD display (close enough to see when recording to hard disk), 60 cycle hum is intolerable, even if I had a 52 Esquire, it wouldn't work.

"I knew your pickups were the best sounding I'd heard, but had a problem with hum in the studio.

"The new (3 pole by 3 pole side by side humbucking tele) bridge pickup, as well as the PAF Gibson style neck humbucker have that sound, dude, and no fricken' noise. Free at last!  No compromises. If I could afford a Studer 24 track with a Neve board, and the maintenance staff to go along with it, I still doubt if I wouldn't grab this axe first, in most cases. What began as a hum issue, tone-grail seeking project turned into the ideal guitar.

"The combination of fat rosewood fretboard big fret strat neck, light swamp ash body, your pickups, hardware choices and finish work add up to a Swiss Army Knife axe, not even amplified, it's as loud as some acoustics and stays in tune. Plug her in, and the neck p/u has a cool Gibson 175 type jazz tone, with distortion still has plenty of highs, no square waving. The bridge p/u is as bright as Danny Gatton, or Roy Buchanan's signature wails! Or, like an old Yardbirds record. Its all full range, hi – fi sound. Funk, Jazz, Rock, Chicken pickin', lead, rhythm its all there. That is the main thing I'd add to the other's comments, this set of pick ups sounds as good or better than a fabulous vintage fender, but there is also something about it that reminds me of a big Martin acoustic in its clean tone, huge lows and highs, not just the 1k midrange squawk  that even a '59 strat can exhibit.

"The only thing I may add is a penguin inlay somewhere, remember the old Monty Python skit:

Q:"What's that on the tele?" (television in britspeak)

A: "It looks like a penguin!"
"Maybe you had to be there...but it would go thematically with the blonde and  black  finish.

"Thanks a Million!"
Dale Ockerman,

(White Album Ensemble, Dale Ockerman Project, formerly with, Doobie Brothers, Zigaboo Modeliste, Quicksilver)

Everybody knows the pickups smoke!

"Happy Thanksgiving! I thought and added a few comments as it wasn't posted yet, everybody knows the pickups smoke, but I also noted the acoustic-like full range hi-fi ness as a unique attribute. Really, I've not picked up an acoustic for a lesson in weeks, I just get the tele in both pickup mode, plus a picture illustrating how to bear with the holidays..."


I heard the sound of his bass player's Precision bass, I said out loud, "What is that?!"

"The first time I heard your pickups (as far as I know) was at the Americana Awards in Nashville. I was there playing in the house band. When I heard James McMurtry's band soundchecking, and I heard the sound of his bass player's Precision bass, I said out loud, "What is that?!" (...probably the best Precision bass sound I can ever remember hearing!) I am so looking forward to having one (or more) of my basses wired with your pickups..."

All the best to you in all of your artistic pursuits!
Byron House, Byron House MySpace


Curtis Novak's PB-CC bass pickup allows the complete range of interaction between wood and strings to come through...

" a way I had been waiting years to experience. Using this pickup in my Fender it feels like every element of the tone is simply there -- clear, well-defined low end, robust mids and highs that have a wonderfully smooth presence -- all unhindered, immediate and full. Thanks Curtis for building my dream Precision pickup!"

Thanks, man.
Byron TOP

Even, deep, punchy, a little growly, it was fantastic.

"Hi, I'm Bill Whitbeck, bass player for Robert Earl Keen. My buddy Ronnie Johnson, bass player for James McMurtry, turned me on to Curtis' pickups. I put a vintage P-Bass set in a '94 Squier Precision and it sounds like a million bucks. I used it on a recording project the other day. I had brought a couple of basses but once I plugged in the Squier I never put it down. What a great sound. Even, deep, punchy, a little growly, it was fantastic. Thanks for making such a great pickup, Curtis."

Keep up the good work.
Bill, TOP

Installed the Novak JM-V pickups tonight. Absolutely stone killer sound!

"Curt, I just posted this on the HCEG forum:

"Installed the Novak JM-V pickups tonight. Absolutely stone killer sound! Incredible clarity, even when pushing the gain envelope. Richness and complexity—all I bought a Jazzmaster to get. Now my Jazzmaster sounds like the '65 I heard when I was a kid at a friend's house. Can't do clips until late next week; we're gigging every day through New Year's Day. But the Jazzmaster WILL be there for every one of these gigs. It sounds insanely good, and I am extremely happy with the purchase. Curtis Novak, you rock. Hard."

"I mean every word of it.  Thanks for your fine work and a great product."

All my best,
Ron Thompson TOP

Hello Curtis, I have one word describing your pickups. WOW! This now is the best sounding strat I've ever had.

"The sound is pure, clear, warm, balanced and true. I shielded the pick guard, dropped a couple beads of soulder and was ready to go. I am so glad there are artisan's like you out there."

"The only problem now is which of my other guitars I'll retrofit with your pick ups. I guess it'll be my Nashville Tele."

Thank you much!
Gene Yeager TOP



Hi Curtis, I finally got them in my Fiesta red jaguar, I think they  sound great!

"I'll use them with the band for the first time this  weekend at Mammoth. I have been meaning to make sound samples for  you... it will have to wait until after Monday. I think I'll want  more of these p-ups for the blue Slackercaster."
Dave Wronski, Slacktone: bio for Dave Wronski


One word. Wow. I am absolutely amazed with your pickups.

"Hi Curtis,

"I just installed the pickups and just had my first attempt at intonating the Jag. I think I got pretty close to where it should be, but was too anxious to plug in and give it a whirl. One word. Wow. I am absolutely amazed with your pickups. With a certain combo of effects, I could swear the sound is almost vocal. I just wanted to let you know and thank you very much for these amazing pickups."

Thank you again,

I fell asleep on the floor of my studio around 8:30 last night and woke up at 11:00 and immediately plugged into my new custom Strat with Curtis Novak pups

" I had a very rare defining moment as an artist that goes beyond words…but I'll try. I was still groggy, so my brain wasn't able to slow me down with the usual wandering thoughts and concepts that often create a bottle-neck between my ears and my fingers. It's not that I was passing 64th notes like they were driven by an elderly woman going over a speed bump in a trailer park; it was more that I couldn't play a wrong note. I tend to play way too many notes too fast which is often more a blurry flurry of sound that is less musical than it is fast.  But with these pups, I can articulate every note even at break-neck speeds...something I've never experienced in forty years of playing."

Rick AdairTOP

I think you've captured really the sound that drew people to the Strat in the first place...

"I stayed up late last night and installed the pickup assembly. I put them in a guitar that was made from a 1957RI Fender replacement neck, a 1957RI replacement body, a Callaham tremolo, and the standard Kluson tuners. I had Texas Specials in it.

Your pickups sound unbelievable. They have such a balanced and sweet tone. They respond very well to the volume knob in terms of maintaining their great tone, but they definitely are able to get a nice edge at full volume. Funny, my Texas Specials never were able to do that even they are over wound.

I have tried at one time or another every pickup that Fender makes, Bill Lawrence pickups, Seymour Duncans, Dimarzios, and Fralins, but was never completely satisfied although I think they are all fine pickups, just limited in their sound. I don't know how you did it, but I think you've captured really the sound that drew people to the Strat in the first place. I have heard other pickups that sound close in my mind, but were lacking somewhat.

Another thing I love about your pickups is that there is no volume drop off going from the neck to the bridge pickup. I will actually start using the bridge pickup again. I love the sound in all 5 positions, but the neck position sound is by far my favorite. I never had a real vintage strat older than a 1975, which sounded like crap by the way, so I can't compare it to a real vintage strat, but I find it hard to believe that it could sound any better than this one does.

I hope that guitarists continue to find their way to your pickups for the sake of your business and passion, but also for the sake of a beautiful sounding strat. Kind of like the sound late 60's muscle car, there is nothing like it and it never gets old.

Thanks again! Time to start saving for another set."
See the complete wiring harness that I sent Gary...
Gary Kurdys TOP

Nothing comes close to the pickups Curtis builds...

"Collaborating with Curtis on the development of the JM-25/90 was a real pleasure. He was very open to suggestion and ultimately produced a pickup that has allowed me to finally get the tones out of my Jazzmasters that I had previously only dreamed of being possible. Additionally, our communications led to Curtis developing the JM-CC which again is another killer creation. Having both of these pickups, along with the JM-90 to swap in and out of my Jazzmasters has been a true blessing. I've been playing Jazzmasters for over a dozen years and have been through many stock, reissue, and after-market replacement pickups. Nothing comes close to the pickups Curtis builds. All of his pickups impart a vintage tone with a tinge of modern flare and ingenuity. To break it down simply, here is my take on each of Curtis' original Jazzmaster pickup designs..."
Read the longer review about individual pickups Bryan's played
Bryan VanDivier TOP

Novak pickups and rewinds are hands down the best...

"...structurally and tonally, of anything out there. Curtis seems to have found that elusive magic that only Leo Fender had before him...these pickups each have their own distinct personality without straying from that true vintage vibe.

I use two Novak Tele pickups and a Strat middle position pickup in my main road guitar, and also have a Novak rewind in the bridge position of my #1 axe a 1967 Tele. Each one sounds fantastic and best of all they allow me to sound like myself."
Mike Schermer, Mighty Mike Schermer Band TOP

"Curtis, I recently installed a set of your hand wound strat pickups on a Japanese made strat, whoa...

These pickups transformed a good playing, but dull sounding strat into an instrument that sounded like a vintage strat. I have heard and installed most of the pickups on the market in my twenty something years of guitar repair and your pickups are by far the most authentic and musical sounding pickups I have heard...Great work!!!"
David Egan, Repair Manager, More Music, Santa Cruz, CA - TOP

After playing hundreds of basses and owning maybe 40 over the last 28 years...

" start to feel like an expert on the properties that make up a good bass.

One of the basses in my collection is a 51-52 P-bass which has a lot of the things I look for in a special bass. It had just one problem. It didn't sound that good plugged into an amplifier. I knew it had to be the pickup. It just was not capturing the vibrations of the strings and wood. The pickup in the bass was the correct type and well made but just did not sound good to my ears. I replaced the non-original pots to newer pots and had the pickup rewound by a well respected pickup maker. No difference.

I have seen many tele basses in the past altered with Jazz bass pickups and most of them sounded better after the change but of course the bass is devalued because of the routing necessary to fit the pickup. I wasn't about to alter my 50+ year old bass.

I was on the internet seaching for alternative pickups for the old P-bass (Tele style) and came across Curtis Novak's website. He had several interesting and innovative pickups on his site so I decided to send him an email about my bass and idea for a Jazz bass style pickup. He answered my email immediately and after a day or two of research told me he could custom build a pickup for the P-bass. I gave him a description of my bass (light weight ash, resonate, bright sounding, spikey sounding) and what I wanted which was fuller, warmer, and less spikey and left it to him for the solution.

Within a couple of weeks he sent me the pickup to try out. The first of it kind as far as I know. A double pole per string (like a Jazz Bass)pup in the shape of the old Tele bass single coil. It made a world of difference in my bass. The bass sounds full and warm and you can play it in any style including slap if you wanted. The new pickup looks old school and well made. It fits the bass perfectly. On a personal level, Curtis was pleasure to deal with and takes a lot of pride in what he is doing. I feel confortable recommending him to anyone.

I'm sending him my 70's Jazz bass pickups for a rewind this week. "
Ronald W Stutts TOP

I am a huge fan of Curtis Novak custom built guitars...

"...I purchased a T-style guitar from him and can only say that it is superior in features and materials. You can pay more and wait longer for something from the "Custom Shop" at that famous guitar company in California but I'm here to tell you that you'll get something better and more useable from Novak. I personally got to pick out which type of wood I wanted, pickups, hardware and finish. His finish work is impeccable and the variety available is nothing short of amazing. Mine was a "see-thru" blonde nitrocellulose which was perfect - you can see the grain of the light-weight swamp-ash and the body can still breathe. The neck (vintage-type 7.5 radius) was professionally set up and played like "buttah". The hardware was also vintage-type for this guitar which was EXACTLY what I wanted. The piece de resistance are his own hand-wound pickups. You can read the reviews on these for more details - all I can tell you is that when they're plugged into my Deluxe Reverb I can get all the "twang" and "bite" and then all the "dirt" that I want. They are the REAL DEAL!! I could always get in touch with him when I needed to discuss something with him or had a question. What Curtis does at his shop is take the "Leo" approach - a simple philosophy of building a high quality guitar that a regular player like me can afford; with custom features that don't cost an arm and a leg - I can't wait to get my S-style guitar from him. THANKS FOR BUILDING MY GUITAR WITH MY FEATURES!!"
Kent Alley - Richmond, VA TOP

I just got through getting my nice new Strat setup and rollin...

"...all I can say about your pickups is WHOLLY SCHIDT! Really, superb articulation and wonderfully balanced, far more robust sound than anything I have played...they just plain shut down the boutiques... Most guys hear something that's about 1/2 db louder than whatever they were listening to and immediately start raving..... I was an audio engineer many years ago... I know what I'm listening to... those little babies are quite impressive..... wanna buy some boutique pickups....I guess I can make paperweights out of 'em."

Curtis put a Charlie Christian-type pickup in my Teisco lap steel and it sounds like a million bucks...

"...The sound is warm and round and the sustain, particularly in the middle tones, is beautiful. Curtis was very accommodating, getting the guitar back to me quickly and letting me know that if I wasn't satisfied with what I heard he would try to correct it, even if it meant putting in a different pickup. I really appreciated Curtis's concern for getting the sound right."
Mark Kashmar TOP

I installed the pups yesterday, and I've been playing ever since....

"...They're a great improvement on my CIJ pickups- I think the most noticeable difference is the clarity of the highs, and the distinct bottom end now.. and also the useable rhythm pickup! I'm a very happy customer, and have already begun to pass the good word about your product to my friends and forum buddies. Thanks again,"
Steve TOP

Curtis is not only a technical expert but also sound creator....

"Hi Curtis Here is our impression of your pick ups.

NOVAK pick ups have good response and tight. It is easy to control at fingering or picking. I tried to play many vintage type replacement pick ups. but I do not know them better than NOVAK now. But It is not modern pick pu.

He make pick ups that any other maker do not make. But their pickups have a sound that many guitarist were looking for.

I like the Alnico 5 magnet Strat pickup set, it has a percussive tone at half position.

Curtis is not only a technical expert but also a sound creator—and his work is very fast!"



What People Say

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