Category Archives: Electronics
Here’s a customization test case for a bass guitar. I needed to know if it is indeed feasible to provide custom pickups for users with very specific needs.
We do not have a bass guitar pickup (yet), although I’ve had inquiries every now and then. And so, a bass pickup makes sense! The XR has just the right ingredients to make a good bass pickup with its full 20-20 bandwidth. My initial hesitation was headroom. The prototype preamp design was limited to 5v with rail-to-rail Op Amps. We’ve since increased the preamp supply to 9v this time using discrete transistors. So that issue is solved.
My observation is that bass players are typically more forward thinking than us guitar players. In general, guitar players are still stuck in 50s(!) with our relic’d guitars and all that lo-fi accidents we embrace as mojo. Thankfully, that is changing and I see more guitar players now moving forward into the future; especially in the Extended Range Guitar community.
It’s taking shape! That’s a lovely pair in a humbucker width configuration. You already know the XRs, they’ve been the focus of our recent developments, but the other guy has an identity crisis. I hinted at “Cycfi XR Plus”, but people didn’t like it. Charles Richardson comments: “It doesn’t distinguish the product enough from the mono version”. I really love the name Neo, but I need to change the name to avoid any potential trademark conflicts.
So I decided to rename the Neos to simply Nu: the alternative spelling of new. It is the 13th letter of the Greek alphabet and is used as a symbol for the frequency of a wave in physics and other fields. I think it is most appropriate and cool!
You can match a Nu with an XR to get the best of both worlds. You have a monophonic pickup that you can connect to just about any amp, and a cutting-edge multichannel setup. Both pickups have extended 20Hz to 20kHz response.
Per Nilsson is an incredible guitar player. He surely knows how to use all 8 strings! Here’s how our Cycfi XR8 sounds on a Strandberg Boden 8-string. The video was recorded through PreSonus Audio Electronics AudioBox into an iPad running Positive Grid BIAS FX.
A big thank you, Ola Strandberg! Enjoy!
After a long and arduous detour with the development of the XR series pickups, we’re back on track! Here’s the evolved modular Neo with better crosstalk performance using permalloy shields and active crosstalk cancellation, even lower noise with improved discrete preamp design, and better aesthetics.
I’ve been asked many times: What time frame are we looking at until the release? To be very honest, as of now, it’s quite a struggle to give a definite answer, so I’m opting instead not to give any promises. Optimism aside, and notwithstanding the fact that I have high hopes for this project, the reality is, although we are having fun while doing a splendid job at Research and Development, concocting these cool prototypes, it is turning out to be a rough ride when it comes to Production. We are always “almost there”, but not quite getting there yet! There were a few small but devious creatures lurking in the details!
Having said that, if there’s one thing I can say with reasonable certainty, I’d say the coils are just about perfect now! It was such a bumpy ride. We had to redo the first batch of coils at least twice! Here’s the story behind the coils.
We have a new name! We had a fun time thinking of a new name for the Neo Aura. Thank you all for your suggestions. Naming is difficult! Darren Wilson of Decibel Guitars is correct: pretty much every known word has already been trademarked by someone. Hence, we decided to use simple Letters and Numbers like Yamaha DX7 and Roland VG-99.
So, the new names shall be: Cycfi XR for the monophonic pickups (previously named Neo Aura) and Cycfi XR Plus for the multichannel (polyphonic) pickups (previously named Neo). “XR” means “Extended Response”.
If you who are wondering why we need a new name, see my post What’s in a name?.
From our Spicetone friends! 6APPEAL: Polyphonic Overdrive and Breakout Box for Hexaphonic Guitars. We share a common ideal: Hexaphonic processing is the future! “A whole new sonic ground, letting you play complex jazz, fusion, progressive rock or even fingerstyle guitar with distortion, without nasty intermodular rumble”. The only analog hexaphonic distortion available today. I can’t wait to try this out with the new Neos!
The Resonant Filter allows you to dial in the characteristics of virtually any pickup with two high quality dual-ganged Bourns potentiometers. The Resonant Filter offers independent control of the cutoff-frequency and resonance (Q).
Before we finally get these pickups released into the wild, here’s something to whet your appetite. Notice the oblique orientation of this Quad 8 string. This one is designed for an 8 string multiscale guitar with a 12 degree pickup slant. The modular pickups allow us to skew the angles such that the poles are still perfectly aligned with the strings.
The second set of this H-H combination has an 8 degree slant (picture below). This one boasts a custom coil-tap switch for single/double-width switching for that extra tonal variation (we use high quality mini toggles with gold-plated contacts). The same coil-taps can be utilised for even more elaborate switching and blending such as continuously variable mixing, phase switching and phase blending as well as tweaking the resonant frequency by means of a parallel capacitor (more on these customisation options soon!).