Gear Review: Geppetto Guitars Tiger Shark and Blackguard Pickups

I can predict my demise: getting mowed down by a bus while browsing the Musical Instruments classifieds on Craigslist instead of paying attention to my surroundings.

But hey, that’s how I found out about Geppetto Guitars’ new pickups.

Each pickup is handmade by Mike O'Donoghue, the owner. While he offers plenty of customizing options, I went with the Tiger Shark Strat set and Blackguard Tele set.

The turnaround time was about a week. Mike was very helpful via phone and email, making sure I was getting pickups that fit my style of playing.

The Tiger Shark set is inspired by characteristics of the late-Fifties/early Sixties Strats. I'm not saying you can't play hard rock on these, but I'd suggest these to a player who wants to cop a vintage sound without the vulnerability of playing 50-year-old pickups.

The Blackguard set irons out typical stereotypes of other Tele pickups; I’d have no qualms playing a whole gig with these. The neck was bold, punchy and not underpowered compared to the bridge. The bridge cut while still sounding musical and took all the gain I could throw at it.

Both sets of pickups are made with Alnico V magnets. Push-back cloth wiring means no wire stripping. Each set came with mounting hardware. The Blackguard set came with a grounding plate for the bridge pickup. Each pickup is dated and labeled by position and Ohms value.

On to the audio clips!

For the demos, I have the Blackguard set in a Fender Standard Telecaster and the Tiger Shark set in a Fender Standard Stratocaster. No modifications were needed. Everything lined up perfectly.

Clip 1: Starting at the neck pickup, I make my way through the five basic pickup combinations on a clean setting with a bit of reverb and delay.

Clip 2: Here’s how the Tele sounds clean, also starting from the neck followed by neck/bridge and ending with just the bridge.

Clip 3: I go back to the Strat, but this time with some overdrive.

Clip 4: It’s the Tele’s turn for some overdrive.
Price: The Tiger Shark: $75 each, $225 for a set of three; Blackguard: $85 each, $170 for a set of two.

You can't believe everything you read on the Internet, but Billy Voight is a gear reviewer, bassist and guitarist from Pennsylvania. He has Hartke bass amps and Walden acoustic guitars to thank for supplying some of the finest gear on his musical journey. Need Billy's help in creating noise for your next project? Drop him a line at

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