Custom Stick Pickup using Slimbuckers

This is a page about the custom Stick pickup I have been working on. It is just a box with two Kent Armstrong Slimbucker jazz pickups mounted inside, plus two volume controls. The Slimbucker is intended to be mounted on an acoustic archtop guitar between the strings and the guitar top, so it is only 5/16" thick. This makes it a good size for mounting in the Stick's shallow pickup cavity. My goals here are to get a jazzier sound and to be able to put a more drastic angle between the pickups and strings to try to make the higher strings louder.

Here are a couple of recordings, straight into my mixer. Slimbuckers on both sides. I have it set so the high strings on each side are almost touching the pickup, and the low strings are 3/8" to 1/4" away. I think it has a nice jazzy tone.

Drop 2 Block Chords on the Melody Side I use the right hand including the thumb to play these Wes Montgomery style block chords on the Stick. Here is a page with the fingerings. (431K mp3)

Close Position Block Chords In Matched Reciprocal tuning, these can be played with the right hand hitting 3 notes on melody side and 1 on the bass side. My playing is really shaky on this...I'm not very good at playing these with walking bass yet! But the point is that, because the bass pickup is much closer to the high bass strings than the low bass strings, a note can be played on the high bass strings which is loud enough to blend with 3 notes on the melody strings, without the bass notes being overpoweringly loud. So this technique for playing close position block chords is a lot more feasible. Here is a page with the fingerings for these chords.

(203K mp3)

Pictures of Version 1 of the New Pickup

Version 2

This one had a flat finish and no knobs. The melody pickup was moved slightly to reduce crosstalk. I used it at a contra dance in Greensboro, North Carolina in December 2008:

Version 3

On this one I milled control circuits into the bottom side of the top plate. It had thumbwheel pots sticking out the side to adjust volume and tone for the two pickups. This did not work out. LOL.

Version 4

This is the latest version. The concentric pots at the top left control volume for the melody and bass pickups separately. The ones at the bottom left are tone controls. On the left side there is also a slide switch to change from regular stereo output mode to mono mode.

The box is made from circuit boards cut on a PCB milling machine. The FR4 material has copper on one side but not on the other. I soldered the pieces together to make the box, which shields the electronics from noise. The outside was green PCB material, so I painted it black.

The Slimbuckers only have a mounting tab sticking out one side (intended to be attached to the pickguard of an archtop guitar), so I cut out a couple of rectangular pieces of aluminum, drilled and tapped some holes in them, and stuck them to the bottoms of the Slimbuckers with double-stick tape. VERY HIGH TECH. Those hold the opposite sides of the pickups in place and make the sides separately adjustable.

Blue wires are ground, red wires are the melody pickup, orange wires are the bass pickup.

The slide switch is a mono/stereo output control. In one position, the bass pickup goes to the ring terminal on the stereo output jack and the melody pickup goes to the tip terminal. In the other position, the melody and bass pickups are shorted together and connected to the tip terminal. This way you can use a regular mono 1/4" guitar cable to connect it to the amp.