Here we have questions for Alan Entwistle, both specifically about the ATN and about general aspects of his ideas, preferences, opinions and a life in guitar development.

Everything ATN Q & A

Everything Entwistle Q & A

#1 Q: What inspired the ATN? (published to FB 30/11/22)

A: (Alan Entwistle) I wasn’t impressed with ‘normal’ tone controls. All they did was make the guitar muddy and were quite unusable so I wanted to devise a tone circuit that was useful and very wide ranging. It also had to be passive because most guitarists I met were not into changing batteries on things like that. Plus it had to fit into most guitars, preferably without the need for any woodwork. Once fitted, it had to be virtually maintenance free with the ability to retain the guitar’s original default sound, when required. This led me to experiment with many different circuits until I devised one that fitted my criteria…..hence the ATN.

#2 Q: How would you describe the ‘woman tone’? (published to FB 05/12/22)

A: (Alan Entwistle) I think you are going back to the mid 60s there, where it evolved with some of the early blues bands, i.e. Eric Clapton during the Cream years and Santana ‘Abraxas’ album. Mainly achieved by rolling the tones on a LP completely back with heavy amp saturation to get a warm, flute-like, singing tone. It’s a high-mid tone which retains some top end so it doesn’t get too muddy when you play chords. But has less attack than a higher treble sound. It almost seems to enhance the harmonic content of the tone and can really sing with some overdrive.

#3 Q: How would you describe the ‘mellow’/warm tone? (published to FB 12/12/22)

A: (Alan Entwistle) I got that from a Burns Marvin I had when I was in Australia back in the early 1980s and I noticed quite a difference between the Marvin sound and the Strat sound, with the Marvin having a warmer and slightly more nasal tone signature. The tone kind of sings and has a more acoustic quality. It’s very articulate.

#4 Q: How would you describe the ‘bass cut’? (published to FB 22/12/22)

A: (Alan Entwistle) This one is definitely brighter and altogether more ‘twangy’. It really suits anything from the jangly sound of the 60s through ‘Surf’ to anything that requires a real clarity across the guitars spectrum. It can be almost ‘harp-like’. If you need a more balanced sound across the breadth of a chord then it will deliver that, as so often a chord can sound bass heavy and turn boomy. This balance is great for recording and playing live, getting the bass frequencies of the guitar out of the way of the bass guitar and cutting through the mix.

#5 Q: How easy is the ATN to install in different types of guitars? (published to FB 31/12/22)

A: (Alan Entwistle) Generally speaking it is very easy as there are only four wires to connect and one of those is an earth wire. The other three wires connect to the existing tone controls allowing you to mix and match three different tonal parameters as opposed to the muddy, one-dimensional tone-scape all too often delivered by the original tone controls. It involves some rudimentary soldering, but really nothing too scary.

#1 Q: How did you originally get started with guitar work and design? (published to FB 12/01/23)

A: (Alan Entwistle) When I first heard ‘Apache’, I wondered what was producing that sound. A friend told me it was an electric guitar and I was so impressed with the sound that I decided I wanted one. I was about 12 or 13 years old. Unfortunately I had to wait until I was about 15 when I built my first one from scrap mahogany, derived from packing cases as we had recently returned from Nigeria. I ‘acquisitioned’ a telephone earpiece out of the telephone booth over the road from where I lived in Cleveleys and turned it into a magnetic pickup! The amplifier I used was my father’s Grundig radiogram. The guitar was awful…….but it started a life-long interest.

When I attended Blackpool Arts School I became more interested and bought a cheap Egmond Lucky 7 with views of becoming a professional musician! That didn’t happen…….but it led me to subsequently buy a Teisco Solid and that was followed by a Hofner Galaxie in 1966. I was getting more and more involved with the technology of the guitar and worked out how to set them up, something that almost nobody was doing at the time. This led to more and more local musicians asking me to work on their instruments.

The next thing I did was move to Auckland, New Zealand where I gained employment with Jansen / Sydney Eady which gave me production experience with electric guitars as Jansen were manufacturing quite a range at the time. This led me to eventually set up my own workshop where I built several custom guitars with a good friend of mine, Bob Hagen. I’ve been mainly self-employed as a guitar builder / designer / customizer since and went deeper into the electronics side…..leading me to the birth of the ATN and my pickup range.

#2 Q: Tell us about Entwistle Pickups and your inspiration for your designs. (published to FB 10/02/2023)

A: (Alan Entwistle) Basically, I wanted to make excellent pickups, as good as any on the market, but at a decent price that anyone can afford, proving that you don’t have to go ridiculously expensive to get the sound you want. My first production pickups started back in New Zealand around 1974. These were hand-wound in my workshop in Auckland and sold locally. In around 2007-2008 I found an excellent Korean pickup manufacturer who had just opened a factory in Northern China and was happy to build to my exact specifications, which was incredibly important as I didn’t want to just churn out generic pickups. That started a great working relationship which continues to this day. Not many pickup manufacturers worked to the standard that I required, but this one did and still does. They build pickups as good as anyone on the planet!

In my portfolio, I have the classics such as the ST, TE and Tri-sonic style single coils and the PAF style humbuckers, all designed to give as faithful a sound as possible, but most of my pickups are designed sonically from the ground up to fill voids in the pickup market, such as the growing ‘retro’ market for sounds distinctly from another era. I have been catering to this market from many years (both in pickup and guitar designs).

I always let my ears guide me when getting the tone in my head into my pickups.

#3 Q: What is your favourite guitar design? (published to FB 19/03/23)

A: (Alan Entwistle) I think it’s fairly obvious to nearly anyone who knows me or knows my guitars that my main interest has been inspired by offset body shapes, which is reflected strongly in my work. My favourite guitar maker and inspiration for many years is Jim Burns. He was such an original and extremely innovative designer that didn’t follow other guitar builders. Never a copyist, he made his own path. Whilst some of my designs don’t particularly look like they have a Burns influence, internally, his influence is definitely present. I like my guitars to be anything but boring, be it sonically or aesthetically!