Last updated February 5, 2021.
Donald Brosnac, as part of his research for his very informative book ‘The Electric Guitar, its History and Construction’ (Published in 1975 by Panjandrum Press, California, ISBN 0-915572–00-1), interviewed Bud Rowe, of Rowe Industries. The following is the text of that interview:
1. From the chapter ‘The Origin Of The Electric Guitar’:
‘The Rowe Company has patented a system of bonding threads to pole magnets which in turn are screwed into a plastic bobbin on which the copper wire is wound. This allows one to set adjust a magnet up or down to set pick-up strength of each string. The Rowe Company made a demonstration model that had a separate pick-up for each string and each of these was fed to a separate amp channel so that each could be precisely controlled.’ The pole-pieces referred to here were fitted in the Model 210 pickup, the ‘Black Tee’ versions of the Fender Coronado guitar pickup, some Micro-frets and Standel guitars.
2. From the chapter ‘Historically Significant Guitars’:
A Guild Artist Award blonde archtop guitar, dated approx. 1955, is also shown in this book, with the following text:
‘In regard to the electric guitar’s history, the instrument shown here is of vital importance. It is like one of the first electric guitars made, the guitar that used the first pickup made in 1932 by Mr. DeArmond and Mr. Rowe’. This comment refers to the pickup Model FH, which makes sense, as the amplification of archtop guitars as used in many orchestras at that time was where demand lay.
3. From the Chapter ‘Electric Guitar Pickups’:
‘The Rowe Company makes many types of pick-ups, in fact more than 24 different models. Most of Rowe’s are similar to Fenders, but they do have some refinements and the Rowe is much older than Fender. The pickup shown is a Model RHC-B. I have used and abused it for years. It seems indestructible. I have had to resolder wires I have torn over the years, however. The magnet for the second string is recessed from the top to give a more even string response. On Model 210 the magnets have aluminium threads bonded to them. These magnets can be adjusted in height to the strings by screwing in or out of a plastic plastic bobbin that the copper coil is wound around. This (referring to a photo of a Model 2000/Dynasonic variant in the book, installed in a CF Martin guitar) is the bottom of the Rowe pickup for the D-28E. Note the screw-adjusted grippers holding the magnets. The Rowe Company also makes pick-ups for ukes, violins, autoharps, pianos and more. They now make a humbucking pick-up that can be attached to an acoustic guitar.’ This last sentence refers to the Model 220 pickup and shows a photo of the first version of that pickup, secured with a collet.
Donald Brosnac’s book is a mine of information on the history and construction of guitars and pickups, including instructions on how to build and repair your own instrument.