As my friends know I regularly experiment with new ideas (as do most of us) to see what kind of sounds can come from what. Over the past year I got an itch to try and build a totally-new-design flat pickup even more powerful than my prior FlatCats.
The first FlatCat I ever sold was different than existing flat pickup designs, so it's always been a unique product that I consider an "ongoing experiment". But there's more than one way to do just about anything, and I'm always curious if the basic design could be improved.
Gen2, Gen 3, Gen 4... each generation brought about an improvement in operation and volume while still retaining the rich, "Delta Swamp" sound for which flat pickups are known. With each generation the design was tweaked and an improvement was made.
One month ago an idea hit me that resulted in a power/volume increase of 60% over standard flat pickup designs. The size of the pickup remained the same as did the quality of sound. It's no thicker than before... it's just a "smarter" design than prior generations. After numerous tests the design has held consistent... with incredibly rich sound and higher output than ever before.
I would never have imagined it, but I'm about 4 pickups away from building my 400th FlatCat. That's a lot of research. Each build has been fully documented in a notebook as to exactly how the pickup was made and the resulting output and sound. Got it down to a hard science and now can pretty much figure out in my head how a pickup will turn out before I put the design on paper and build it (similar to how a mechanic can figure out what's wrong with a car just by listening to it).
I'm pleased to say the Gen7 FlatCat is a surprisingly robust pickup. The first FlatCat had plenty of volume and rich sound; this one increases that volume significantly while retaining the tone unique to Cigar Box guitars and flat pickups... that "Delta Swamp" that is just so different from off-the-shelf pickups.
Wanted to let my friends know what I've been up to. I have so many guitars hanging from my walls I've literally run out of wall space for even one more git... and have started stacking them on racks in the back room. I don't imagine myself nearly as prolific as other builders... and have no delusions that 400 pickups is anywhere near what others have built. But it's been a journey with a terrific end result. Customer reviews of the pickup are top-notch and the photos and sounds I've seen of resulting instruments are very rewarding.
So that's the up-to-date. Here are some videos for those new to the field and haven't seen these goodies yet (Wishbringer CBGs and FlatCats as well as customer creations). Fun stuff here.
Professional performer Brooks Williams rawkin' out with a FlatCat on his dobro:
Wishbringer Altoids Mintar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4WJ_1bouiNU
Customer John Sime with some awesome licks: https://youtu.be/tVMjjrtwl5I
Wishbringer John Deere themed CBG: https://youtu.be/5ZNLjruIz6Y
Wishbringer Blue Pearl CBG. Be sure to watch all the neat variations: https://youtu.be/tWHjrdoqkcM
Bob Marioni Cohiba CBG with a very nice demo of the FlatCat: https://youtu.be/oUQZ9IVay5w
* NOTE: Nov 2021. FlatCats are now up to Gen 10 and quite a lot more than 400 out there. : )
Excellent work, 'Finder. Congrats!
Great! It's always satisfying when you have an idea, work on it, modify it, test, test, test and finally reach the solution you had in mind. I've been there numerous times, it's a great feeling. Congratulations!!!
I'm sure you can identify with that better than most Ted, considering the number of pickups you've made and the wide variety of designs. I strongly suspect we're very much alike at least in one area: "I wonder what would happen if..." ;D
Jim N. said:
Excellent work, 'Finder. Congrats!
Hey Wayfinder. Congrats on your pending benchmark build! Thanks for your update, and all of your past sharing of experiences.
Hey Grandpa, good to hear from you! Hope all is going well in your ventures and explorations.