There are some audio devices that haven’t changed much in a hundred years. Loudspeakers and microphones come to mind, as while they’ve evolved and gotten better, they still basically work the same way as ever. Although not quite a hundred years old yet, you can put the guitar pickup in the same category – until now. Researchers at the University of Purdue have reimagined the guitar pickup to shrink it down to the size of a circuit board.
The advantage of the circuit-board-pickup is that it can be manufactured quickly and to exacting tolerances. Since it emulates the coils of wire wrapped around a magnet structure without using those components, it can be a manufactured a lot cheaper as well.
Supposedly this new pickup can be retrofitted on existing electric guitars, but I think that the real future lies in acoustic stringed instruments. Current pickup or microphone designs usually mean that the capture device is somewhat intrusive, at least from a visual standpoint. The circuit-board-pickup is by nature much smaller and therefore could fit seamlessly on any instrument.
“We came up with a new approach to the electric guitar pickup – the magnetic transducer that helps create the musical sound,” said Davin Huston, an assistant professor of practice in engineering technology in the Purdue Polytechnic Institute. “Our circuit boards can be printed in large quantities and fit inside just about any electric guitar, which simplifies the manufacturing process but keeps the sound quality and reliability.”
A United States patent has been granted on this technology, which is probably why we’re just hearing about it now.
This may be an exciting innovation, although we still don’t know what it sounds like. Many sonic innovations have fallen by the wayside in the past because they just didn’t cut it when it came down to listening tests.