[chuck-users] Instrument Pickups for Ajay and Others

Les Hall lester.hall at comcast.net
Sat Jun 4 15:08:01 EDT 2011

This post is somewhat off-topic to ChucK itself, so please skip it if that bothers you, thanks.  

All this celebration of Ajay Kapur and the amazing work that he and his students are doing reminded me of a sort of reinvention that my Swedish friend Are and I created together some time ago.  It's a type of stringed instrument pickup that has unique properties making it very suitable for creating one's own stringed instruments.  I know that part of the ChucK world involves creating unique instruments including stringed ones, so I thought I'd post here.  

I say reinvented because after we created it, we found prior art in the patent record going back to the 1930's if I recall correctly, and we never did patent out little twist on the theme that made it practical today, so it's yours to use freely.  It works by putting neodymium magnets under the strings and then amplifying the tiny currents created in the strings themselves as they vibrate in the magnetic field.  Since there are no coils of wire, there is no second-order filter to distort all those beautiful harmonics, and the sound is more "clean" or harp-like than a conventional wound pickup.  There are quirks to these pickups, but they are minor to most listeners.  You can read all about this new-old pickup system here:  


Oh, and we did ask for a small contribution from anyone who used it, but not only is that a voluntary gesture, for educational purposes we can waive it altogether.  If someone uses the pickup system and tells us about it, that will be plenty reward enough.  Please feel free to forward this message or the web link to any related list or person or whatever.  



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