When asked why he decided to set up Deacci, company owner (and chief winder) Declan Larkin’s first response was “Madness … definitely madness!” What’s evident however is that he’s driven by the ongoing mission to have guitar players be inspired by the tone of their guitar.
We catch up with Declan as he discusses listening to Gary Moore, an unconventional 50 year Hofner pickup and working with the nicest Canadian known to man …
What made you start Deacci?
Probably madness .. I’d been winding pickups for a number of years before I took the leap into starting a proper company as such. Like many businesses it started as a hobby, I was always wary of making it a “proper” business as there’s so many variables that made it seem like a big challenge.
Deacci really came about in order to explore the variables of pickup winding as I’d found that out of every dozen pickups I’d wind – half of them sounded great, the rest were really good .. but one or two out of a batch sounded incredible. I started to break each of the elements down and investigate how they impacted tone. What I found was that one of the biggest parts was how the actual winding was controlled and what pattern was used in hand-winding. That “randomness” from the human hand was very difficult to repeat and also keep control of, so I knew I needed to find a way to systematically replicate this – it was the one area that was beyond my own capability.
I’ve a background in computing and so I thought that looking into technology might be the best option to see if I could make a computer match what the human hand does in the winding process. It turned out to be a little more complex and I ended up trying many ways to try that replication. What we ended up with was a fully customised computer written script to control every single movement of the winding motors covering wire feed and bobbin rotation…. Old school style pickups meets modern day quality control and consistency
Where does the name come from?
DEACCI is the first two letters of my own name and the last four letters of the 13th century Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci who discovered the mathematical sequence of the same name, that appears quite a lot in nature – it’s known as the “perfect sequence”. That sequence plays a key part in our winding algorithm, allowing us to consistently replicate what can be achieved with a handwound style pickup for production.
What guitar players tone inspires you?
The whole journey for Deacci has been about being inspired by tone. The first player that ever made me really sit up and listen to guitar was Gary Moore. I’d got a copy of his Run for Cover album and the mix of his playing and tone was incredible. I think I wore that tape out on a school trip! A lot of Gary’s tone on the later blues albums came from the Peter Green Les Paul so that led me to get into early Fleetwood Mac and then onto a musical journey that included everyone from AC/DC to Eddie Van Halen and many more over the years. I guess I’d have to mention some of the modern stuff also like our friend Ariel Posen, he’s never had bad tone but he has an incredible sound and feel. I’ve been inspired by how all of these players brought something new to playing guitar in terms of tone.
We’ve seen some shots of Ariel Posen playing some prototype pickups – can you tell us anything about that?
Ariel has been a big impact on my idea of tone and inspiring a new way of thinking about pickups. There have been very few new things around pickup development in many many years – unlike for example the moves in amps and digital technology. When you look at the industry as a whole you find that we reinvent things and so this is what we’ve done with this new set of pickups which we’ll introduce soon.
When I started winding pickups I ended up appreciating single coils a lot more – they’re so adaptable and you can really make them cover many styles and bases in terms of tone. With that in mind the new pickup is a single coil in a humbucker form factor.
I really wouldn’t have found this idea if it hadn’t been for the “stethoscope ears” of Mr Posen! Ariel spotted an old Hofner mini humbucker pickup on my bench during a visit to the workshop. It had come in for a rewind and upon opening it up only one side of the humbucker was actually coiled. I contacted the owner to enquire if someone had fixed it before but he said no – and ultimately that he wanted to keep it as is – essentially just rewinding one of the coils. Long story short, Ariel persuaded me to stick it in the test mule guitar once I’d rewound it. The sound really surprised us and so the journey started on how we could refine it.
We really had to go digging for this idea. Without Ariel spotting the diamond in the rough it might not have seen the light of day (cheers Ariel!). That one event of testing a 50+ year old pickup after an unusual rewind led to a two-year process that has seen us develop something which I really feel is something different. I’m really proud of this pickup – it’s something genuinely new.
What’s your guitar of choice?
It’s a Strat 100% It’s been a yardstick that I’ve used for inspiration over the last few years. If I pick up another guitar and it makes me want to play as much as my own Fender Custom Shop then I know it’s a good one!
I bought the guitar from Andertons in the UK who were good enough to test all of the custom shop strats in their stock and take up my challenge of sending me “the best one” they had. All quite subjective – but I ended up with “Bluey”.
I’m lucky that I get to play many guitars every week as customers often leave them with me here at the workshop. If I had more money I’d probably buy them all! I think with the new pickup I’ll need another guitar to stick a set in – maybe a nice 335 to add to the arsenal..or a tele ..or maybe I should just upgrade my MIJ Greco (You see the problem here!)
What’s next for Deacci in 2019?
I’m excited to launch the new pickup soon and also feel that 2019 sees Deacci move past a mechanism of just developing a new product. This next year should see us expand our production as we look to work alongside some new guitar builders and further develop our custom pickup manufacture. We’re also working with some new artists which is exciting as I get an amazing sense of inspiration in working with great musicians.