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Nu Series v2

The Nu Series Modular Active Pickups are hacker friendly, general purpose pickups that can be used in a variety of applications. These are active pickups utilizing low impedance coils, permalloy ring shields to minimize crosstalk, and an integrated differential, low-power, low-noise preamplifier for each coil. These small pickups are modular and can be used individually or in groups.

The pickups are designed for multichannel processing — one for each string (distortion, EQ, compressor, delay, pan, pitch-shift, etc). Such extensive processing is now possible due to advances in digital signal processing and the proliferation of multi-channel audio interfaces and multi-track audio software.

These modular pickups are not just for guitars. Nus are also successfully utilized in other musical instruments such as the bass guitar, cellos, harps, pianos, xylophones, etc.


Nu Capsule

The Nu capsule is the most basic modular building block which includes the permalloy shielded pickup and integrated preamplifier. The Nu capsule is intended to be PCB mounted and includes a 5-pin 2mm pitch header connector that can be directly soldered to a PCB, or mounted to a corresponding female header. The Nu capsule includes reverse polarity protection for the supply pins.

  1. Permalloy ring for improved electromagnetic isolation, better string focus and crosstalk reduction.
  2. Low noise discrete/Op Amp hybrid differential preamplifier for improved immunity to electrostatic noise.
  3. High dynamic range, expanded power supply range from 5v up to 18v. 
  4. Instrument-level.
  5. Low output impedance with a 17 mA current drive capability.
  6. Rail-to-Rail Output.

Nu Multi

Nu Multis are Nu Capsules combined in groups. The Nu Capsules sit on a 1mm PCB that can slightly flex and held stable by a piece of medium density EVA foam, known for its “rubber-like” softness and flexibility. Two screws at each end of the PCB serve as curvature adjustments. The Nu assembly connects to an adaptor board underneath a laser-cut baseplate for up to 12 channels using standard 2mm pitch headers.

Standard vs. Basic

The only difference between the Nu Multi Standard and Nu Multi Basic (available as options) is the inclusion of the Internal breakout (see below). The Nu Multi Basic does not include the Internal breakout.

The Nu Multi Basic by itself has all the power, signal and ground connectors available that you can use to connect to whatever audio input devices you wish to connect to. The Internal breakout that comes with the Nu Multi Standard expands the inputs to other audio sources such as other pickups and control voltages (CVs). 

Internal Breakout

The Nu Multi connects inside the guitar via a multi-pin cable to the Internal Breakout board which provides easy access to all the Nu Multi pins using standard header (2.5mm and 2mm) connectors. The small breakout board includes pins for up to 15 channels of audio inputs and up to 7 channels of control voltages. Audio inputs can come from the Nu Multi as well as other monophonic sources (e.g. standard guitar pickups). Control voltages allow by-wire control of volume, tone, patch (or just about any effect for that matter). The Internal breakout includes reverse polarity protection plus a low-noise voltage regulator for the Nu Multi, other active pickups, and auxiliary circuits.

Frequency Response

The Nu Series active polyphonic pickups have a uniform frequency response from 20Hz to 20Khz. The sound is very clean with lots of overtones and crystal clear highs. The low impedance coils give the pickups its characteristic wide bandwidth.

Unlike traditional high-impedance passive pickups, there are no big peaks and dips in the response. Such a wide and flat frequency response gives you the freedom to sculpt the tone using analog or digital filters. The low-impedance pickup imparts very little coloration to the guitar sound. You get whatever tone you want using appropriate tone shaping EQ rather than a fixed, predetermined guitar tone.

Actual Measured Frequency Response

Sound Clips

See Sculpting the Tone for details and more sound clips.

Here’s a short clip with a “classical” EQ capture of the Cycfi Nu multichannel pickup mounted on a Fender Stratocaster in the bridge position. The strings are panned from right to left, with the low-E at the right and the high-E at the left. Get your best headset ready or run the sound clips through your awesome cool stereo system.

Nu Capsule Pinout

V+5v to 18v supply voltage. Reverse polarity protected (Schottky diode).
(For optimum performance, use a clean, well regulated power source)
OutPreamplifier Output

Nu Multi Pinout

V+5v to 18v supply voltage
(For optimum performance, use a clean, well regulated power source. The Internal Breakout provides a well regulated, ultra-low noise power supply for the Nu Multi).
Ch1 to Ch8Multichannel preamplifier outputs from the Nu Capsules. Ch1 corresponds to the highest string (e.g. High-E string).

Internal Breakout Pinout

Nu Inputs
(Channels 1-12)
Up to 12 audio channels connect to the multi-channel Nu pickups.
Aux Audio / CV Inputs (Channels 9-15)Standard EMG-style header connectors connect to up to 7 standard monophonic pickups or control voltages for by-wire control of volume, tone, patch or control of just about any effect. Channels 9-12 are duplicates of the Nu inputs. These are provided for convenience. You can connect to one or the other, but not both.
Aux PowerAuxiliary power supply for external user electronics.
Power12v power input source. Reverse polarity protected (MOSFET).
Ch1 to Ch8Channel 1-12 audio/CV outputs.


Coil D.C. Resistance320-350Ω
Coil Capacitance54pF
Coil Inductance12mH
Wire gauge46AWG
Number of turns1300
Magnetic CoreNeodymium with Iron
Frequency Response20Hz – 20kHz (extends beyond 100kHz)
Resonance Frequency198kHz
Voltage Output (Note 1)580-740mV peak-to-peak
Crosstalk (Note 2)49dB: Non optimized
53dB: Active crosstalk cancellation
Output Impedance10kΩ
Supply Voltage5v to 18v
Output Voltage SwingRail-to-Rail
Output Current Drive17 mA
Quiescent Current Consumption450µA
Note 1Automated; Moderate picking
Baseline Stratocaster (passive): 484mV peak-to-peak
Baseline EMG 81: 720mV peak-to-peak
Note 2(10.2mm coil spacing, 1mm from string)

Open Source

This Project is entirely Open Source. The designs (schematics, PCB layout, software, bill of materials, CAD drawings) are freely shared and 100% free, under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Source code is distributed under the MIT License

All hardware design files and source code are available in the Nu Github Repository:

Hardware design files licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Software source code distributed under the MIT License.

All trademarks and registered trademarks are the property of their respective holders. The use of these trademarks does not imply any affiliation or endorsement by the trademark holders.