Category Archives: Side Winder

Almost There

      Manufacturing, Nu Series, Side Winder, XR Series
Ready For Assembly

Ready For Assembly

It’s been a while but we’re almost there! I always underestimate the time it takes to bring an idea from concept to prototype and then to actual production. I always thought that manufacturing comes easy as soon as you have a fully working prototype. Wrong! To be very honest, I learned the hard way that there is such an art called Design for Manufacturability. Quoting Wikipedia: (also sometimes known as design for manufacturing or DFM) is the general engineering art of designing products in such a way that they are easy to manufacture. I enjoy designing and working on prototypes. I think they are cool! I try my best to make them as aesthetically pleasing as possible and I love looking at the result! But are they easy to manufacture? Ignoring DFM, as I did in this production run, can be costly. Hah! What do I know, I’m a software engineer. Now I know better!

That said, it’s all worth the wait. Promise!  😀


NAMM 2015

      Electronics, Nu Series, Pickups, Side Winder, XR Series



Hello Y’all. So, Cycfi Research will have a presence in NAMM 2015. William Banks will be our NAMMbassador :-). He will be bringing with him a prototype of the Cycfi XR HD Pickup set (pictures below). For more information, go visit the Cycfi XR page. I will be incrementally updating it with more information (technical info, sound clips, etc.). Bill will be posting updates on twitter @cycfiresearch (#CycfiResearch and #NAMM2015). Feel free to follow us for updates.



Pre-wired Cycfi XR Assembly

Aura Strat Set with Resonant Filter.

Cycfi XR Strat Set with Resonant Filter.

Innovation is Hard

      Design, Electronics, Nu Series, Pickups, Side Winder


Innovation is so hard! People often ask me why I don’t just do it like everybody else; —you know, the “tried-and-true” path. The easy path. Well, I enjoy innovating and I’m not complaining. Such is the nature of Research and Development. Anything worth doing is not easy. We have this box full of failed projects as proof!

Examples From Our Box of Shame

Failed examples from our Box of Shame

Now it turns out that the multichannel sidewinder project is another dead end. All tests (power tests, noise tests, spectrum analysis) ran perfectly, except one. It failed the crosstalk test. The original Neo multichannel pickup still proves to be the king of the hill with measured -38dB crosstalk. Contrary to what I initially expected, crosstalk is worse with the side-wound pickups measuring an abysmal -24dB 🙁

The side-wound double coils are both a blessing and a curse. Its sensitivity is very good! But that also proves to be its undoing, at least for multichannel pickups. It can easily detect signals from adjacent strings. On the other hand, it is a blessing for the monophonic sidewinder where the extra sensitivity gives it better balance and uniform response.

In short: the monophonic sidewinder is still a go. We are gearing up for production now. All tests are as perfect as ever! As for the multichannel sidewinder, we’re back to the drawing board with the goal of surpassing the original Neo multichannel pickup‘s performance. Now that’s a tough goal!


Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

      Electronics, Filters, Nu Series, Pickups, Side Winder



“Make things as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Ah my favourite Einstein quote. Apart from the Infinity project, here’s what we’ve been working on for the past couple of months: Coming very soon, an easy to use Neo setup. This solderless system includes everything you will need to get an extended response pickup system up and running as quickly as possible. This setup shown is for a Fender Stratocaster S-S-S configuration, but various customisations are possible. For example, the bridge pickup can be paired with a Neo6 multichannel pickup (my favourite setup!). Dual humbuckers? Sure, that’s two pairs (four pickups). The tonal combinations would be awesome if you combine four pickups in various ways. Or how about 6 pickups!

In addition to 6 string pickups, available on request, we will also offer pickups for 7, 8 and 9 strings (we are committed to the ERG crowd!). We use premium components only (Bourns potentiometers, Switchcraft jacks, gold-plated headers and connectors etc).

If you wish for a highly customised setup, don’t hesitate to send us a message. Basic customisation options include:

  1. Volume control
  2. 5-way switch
  3. Passive low-pass filter
  4. Passive high-pass filter
  5. Active resonant filter with variable Q and sweepable frequency
  6. Lithium-Ion battery pack and charger (not shown)
  7. Single-coil or Sidewinder

Here’s the system on a Fender Stratocaster. I love it so much I decided to keep it permanent! I’ll post some sound clips soon.


Cycfi Extended Response pickup set



Extended Response pickups on a Strat!

Pickup Testing

      Electronics, Nu Series, Pickups, Side Winder, Workshop

Here at Cycfi Research, we test everything. It’s not just by pure luck that we have these great sounding pickups. We go through dozens of iterations until we find the best candidate. It takes time and a lot of patience. We do power tests, frequency response tests, noise tests, etc. Then of course we also do listening tests —that’s the fun part.

Here are some workshop views of our test jig, with the SideWinder undergoing power testing, using the original Neo1 as our baseline. Things are looking good!


Our pickup testing jig


The new Neo Side-Winder prototype undergoing tests


Automatic string picker in action

More Sidewinders!

      Evolution, Nu Series, Pickups, Side Winder

neo6-sidewinderI am falling in love with sidewinders! Last time, I wrote about this nice double-coil monophonic side-wound pickup design. Now how about a multichannel (polyphonic) version? Each channel has two side-wound coils wired series phase-opposing (humbucking).


Monophonic Sidewinder Design

You get double the signal strength while still maintaining the full frequency range of the original Neos. Each coil pair has its own extremely low-noise, low-power preamplifier. This time I’m using a discrete design using ultra low-noise transistors. Tests show that the broadband noise performance is comparable to the OPA209 which has an impressive 2.2 nV/√Hz (1kHz) noise figure. In english: audiophile quality.

Neo Sidewinder Module

Neo Sidewinder Module

The poles are adjustable. That way, you can fine tune the string to string balance, without having to mess with the mixer every time. Also, it is now possible to move the poles closer to the strings because there’s less string pull. That should give you better signal strength and less cross-talk. Instead of having multiple versions (Neo1, Neo2 and Neo6), this time there will only be a single version (similar to Neo1). This modular design can be grouped into sets of 6, 7 and 8 or more strings, placed on a base board with different base-boards for different number of strings and configurations.