Category Archives: Evolution

The Last of the XRs

      Evolution, Pickups, Uncategorized, XR Series, XR Update

Almost immediately after I announced our Roadmap for 2018, the XRs and the current Nu modules went out of stock as people hurriedly grabbed what’s remaining in our inventory. I am very sorry that I had to turn down orders after the stocks were depleted.

Dan Rhodes sent me these nice pictures of his electric with Cycfi XR dual pickups, Cycfi Resonant Filter, Warmoth body and neck with a Decoboom pick guard, Fender locking tuners, roller bearing nut and Wilkinson tremolo.

“Looks and sounds amazing Joel! I spent some time with it last night and the tonal range of these pickups is amazing. The openness with the tone and Q maxed out is a sound I’ve never had before.”

Thank you very much for such nice appreciation. I am missing the XRs already!

But watch out. We are still actively pursuing the Modula, a new breed of pickups and the next evolutionary step for the XR. It didn’t die, it simply evolved! 🙂



Simplify! I think that will be my mantra for 2018.

Looking back, the current product line that we have including the XR Pickups and all its support electronics, the Nu pickups and all its support electronics including the Nexus, and in addition to all projects, planned and in the pipeline, including Infinity −hardware and software, is just too ambitious and unmanageable given the resources we have. I want to achieve so much, but there is simply no time to do it all in a reasonable amount of time. Those of you who know me know that I am also a full-time C++ consultant and Cycfi Research is a much loved baby that blossomed out of pure passion (or is that obsession?) and love for the guitar, electronics, and music in general, that goes back decades since the 80s.

When we started, it was just the Neo pickups, nothing more. It started to get crazy when we developed and eventually released the XR pickups. When the XR happened, we started losing focus and precious time for doing research and development was slowly consumed by manufacturing and support. We’re getting ahead of ourselves. We have to walk before we can run.


So, in 2018, something has to give way. We will have to focus on only one product: The Nu Capsule. Less is more. Focus on one item, do it really well. I know there’s an untapped market for the Nu capsules, a general purpose, miniature magnetic pickup. And it goes beyond the guitar. A number of Nu users are actually non-guitar players.

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Modula 8 and 9 String Prototypes

      Evolution, Modula, Pickups

So many things to do. So little time! I think Karl Steinberg was right in remarking that I have too many projects happening all at the same time. Oh well, these Modula prototypes are good to go. We worked so hard for this. These are custom made pickups. We do not have injection molded enclosures yet, so these are hand crafted, painted and buffed to perfection. This is already the third version, but it was all worth it! The next, and the most stressful step: Production!

Modula is our next gen, full-range pickups. Leave a comment if you are interested in these pickups!

8-String, 3-5 split Stereo Modula Pickups

9-String, 4-5 split Stereo Modula Pickups

9-String, 4-5 split Mono Modula, Nu Combo

Modula Update: Preamp Performance Tweaks

      Electronics, Evolution, Modula

I can’t recall how many times we went back to the drawing board. Design, test, rinse repeat. I only wish turnaround time is shorter than it is now. After initial design, planning, and breadboarding, we start off with dead bug prototyping and do a barrage of tests to validate the design. Then, we do PCB layout using Eagle CAD (although we might be switching to KiCAD soon) and send the design to PCB manufacturing. A cycle takes around 1 to 2 weeks depending on complexity. PCB layout itself can be a demanding task, especially if space constrained, like the Modula preamplifier. What’s painful is when you are in the final stages, and there’s that yet one more test that breaks to design! It happens! And it happened again with the Modula preamp.

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Alpha Revisited 2017

      Alpha, Construction, Evolution

Time to revisit the Alpha and replace Alpha’s pickups with what else but Nus and XRs! Dimarzios out, Nu and XRs in… Ehmm, OK I suppose I’d refret the guitar as well.

In case you have no idea what Alpha is, check out this link. Alpha is a thru-Neck Carbon Fiber over Bamboo with a Carbon Fiber Body I designed and built a few years ago. I’ll have more of Alpha in the coming days. Stay tuned. I am highly considering building a few of these sexy Carbon Fiber guitars with even crazier ideas brewing in my mind over the years, perhaps in collaboration with a fine luthier in the U.S. or in Europe (To my luthier friends: send me an email if you are interested and let us talk). You want the bleeding edge, this is it! It will be a complete multichannel system with the Nu, Nexus and Infinity all standard features, just as I envisioned it when this all started a few years ago. Yes, Infinity! My holy grail is now within reach with recent breakthroughs!

Watch out!

Beyond the Guitar

      Events, Evolution, Innovation, Nu Series, Pickups

The Halldorophone

It’s amazing what creative minds can come up with. There is exciting innovation everywhere, and it is not limited to the guitar. I thought violin (and cello) builders are the most conservative. After all they’ve “perfected” the violin construction and wouldn’t care for anything more beyond that, right? Well, no…

Meet Halldór Úlfarsson and his invention, the Halldorophone —a Cello-ish electro acoustic string instrument designed to facilitate feedback on the strings. The Halldorophone features 8 strings (for the newer models). 4 on top and 4 resonator/harmonizing strings under the fingerboard. This kinda reminds me of the Hardanger fiddle with sympathetic “understrings” that resonate under the influence of the other four.

Each string has its own pickup, now using the Nu multichannel pickups on the latest models.

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Virtual Pickups Revisited

      Design, DSP, Effects, Evolution, Filters, Modeling, Nu Series, Open Source, Pickups, Software

A little background: I’ve written a series of articles before about Virtual Pickups and how they are implemented in software (DSP). It’s a three part series: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. I wrote about Standing Waves, Nodes, Antinodes and Pickup Position, Comb Filters, some underlying Math and Simulation in DSP code. I also presented what I thought was a minimal interface I really like.

Infinity_GUIIt has taken a while (I can’t believe it has been almost 2 years now!), and now I’m back to writing the software. What has transpired since then? Production of the XR and the Nu took the most of our time and I’m left with very little time to do what we I best: R&D. Now that the Nu is out, it makes sense to go back, pick up and continue where we left off, starting with the GUI.

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Infinity goes FM

      DSP, Electronics, Evolution, Hardware, Infinity, Processing

Testing the FM synthesizer

What do I do on Christmas eve? What else, but hack some C++ code. I got a new highly optimized sustain driver design that also acts as pickup! The power consumption is now at 20mA, each. With the new drivers, I upgraded to FM synthesis from simple additive synthesis. Now I will be driving the strings with FM waves, the same tech behind the 80s Yamaha DX7 synthesizer. FM synthesis was developed by John Chowning at Stanford University in the 70s. In the 80s up ’till the mid 90s, Yamaha virtually monopolized the market with their hardware implementation. The patent expired in 1995.

FM is cool! I think FM synthesis is the best fit for the Infinity project.

Merry Christmas Everyone!


Nu Update: Mounting the Modules

      Design, Evolution, Nu Series, Pickups

Nu-Multi-AngledLast time, I hinted at ways to mount the pickups. Surely, a guitar builder will find a zillion ways to mount these modules. I’ve had inquiries, not only from Guitars builders but from Violin and Cello builders too! I bet these builders have cool ideas how to mount these bad boys. Here are some examples. Images convey a lot of information, so here again are some 3D renderings for your perusal. Click the images to zoom in!

Which one do you prefer? Comments and suggestions welcome (in the comments box below or in our FB forum).

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