Meet The Mind Behind Mojotone Pickups

Written by
Logan Tabor
Published on
January 21, 2021 at 3:13:19 PM PST January 21, 2021 at 3:13:19 PM PSTst, January 21, 2021 at 3:13:19 PM PST
In this industry, I meet a ton of people who are undeniable authorities in their field.  When I come across these savants I always find myself wondering what the path might have looked like that led them to this point; this point where they know everything about every aspect of their craft to the extent that they are able to contribute to the market and really innovate.  
Mojotone’s head pickup wizard, David Shepherd, is one of these mystery people that I always wonder about...and I’ve known him for ten years.  So I guess I figured it was time to get some backstory on Mr. Shepherd, with the goal of uncovering the secrets to his power.
As it happens, David Shepherd started diving deep into guitar anatomy all the way back in middle school.  He grew up in the 80s and, like many of us, his affection for the acoustic guitar began to wane after hearing all the big-time shredders of the day.  Shepherd did the smart thing: he went down to the local music store and bought a used Squier Strat and Peavey Rage amp. Now typically when a young man gets his first electric guitar, he goes home and blasts it for hours.  But David Shepherd immediately disassembled the entire guitar to clean it, and then had to figure out how to put it back together. Once it was back together, he took it back to the shop to have it properly set up.
“After seeing what a difference the repairman made, I was completely fascinated with the whole electric guitar and how it all worked,” says Shepherd. Evidently this was a turning point for him; from then on, he was overcome with the constant urge to tinker.  
“From there I was constantly modding my stuff, whether it was stripping the finish off to refinish with a different color, or changing pickups out. That poor Squier guitar was my hook into playing and working on guitars for years to come, but I wouldn't trade those experiences for the world now.”
After high school, Shepherd went straight into the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery continue his deep dive into the anatomy and history of guitars.  After graduating, he took his skills and knowledge into the workforce. Shepherd worked at various music shops doing repairs and modifications, applying and honing his skills, and taking his craft to a new level.  During this time, he was even able to work on a number of famous people’s guitars, and meet a few of his idols like Buddy Miles, Mitch Mitchell, and Billy Cox.
“All of these incredible experiences just catapulted me deeper into the only career I've ever known which eventually became pickups and Mojotone,” says Shepherd.  
And in 2005 David began working at Mojotone.  He started out auditing the guitar parts division, adding parts to the Mojotone catalog, weeding out the unnecessary parts, and revising the way the guitar parts department worked in general.  Eventually Shepherd began adding pickup parts into the mix, and since David had spent years swapping pickups in and out of customers’ guitars, and making mods and repairs on pickups, he was able to efficiently roll out the bits and pieces needed for Mojotone customers to start building their own pickups.  But Shepherd’s deep knowledge of pickups begged him to take it one step further; Shepherd would eventually go on to design and manufacture an entire line of fully assembled guitar pickups for every type of guitarist under the sun.

“...there is no one-size-fits-all, meaning just because a pickup sounds great for a particular player and guitar, doesn't mean it will sound great for another,” says Shepherd.  
This is why Mojotone now offers a huge selection of pickups that can accommodate players with different playing styles, different amps, guitars, pedals, etc.  And today the Mojotone pickup department has grown to a crew of ten highly skilled individuals who are all dedicated to maintaining Mojotone’s standard of consistent, top-shelf products.  Shepherd manages his crew through constant growth and change in a department where no two days are the exact same; one day the team can be making pre-wired pickguards for 10 hours, and the next day they might be focusing on pickup builds for any number of OEM customers.  

Shepherd’s goal is to one day be able to walk into any music store in the country and find guitars pre-loaded with Mojotone pickups for sale, and shelves full of Mojotone’s hottest pickup options.  He strives to infuse a new generation with knowledge and inspire more people to experiment with pickup options and find a sound that truly resonates with their own musicianship.
It’s always encouraging to find out that the madman behind your favorite gear has actually been obsessing over guitars since he was 11 years old.  David Shepherd has been doing this his entire life, and has learned the guitar inside and out from the ground up. He has most certainly paid his dues, and as a result is able to create some of the best gear on the market.