THE HISTORY OF FLATCAT™ GUITAR PICKUPS
From the owner of Wishbringer Music
Flat pickups have been produced for decades. However they can be quite expensive. I became aware of flat pickups around the end of 2014 when I noticed pickups made by Dan Sleep called Thinkbuckers. I was fascinated by the concept, but in the otherwise open-and-sharing field of cigar box guitar building, everyone was very secretive about how flat pickups were made. For some reason the concept of Flat pickups was considered by some in the community as the property of one person-- which seemed a bit silly. One person cannot possibly fill the world-wide market of CBG builders and players. There were no patents held. Anyone could make a flat pickup-- if they could figure out how.
Research revealed that flat pickups were nothing new; they'd been around for decades-- long before the CBG community came about. At least two major companies produce the in off-the-shelf models (for a significant price).
Gaining little or no cooperation in understanding flat pickup design, I went to the Net and did some research. I started experimenting by the seat of my pants, beginning with only a slight inkling of how these were made, based on non-specific photos. They were wax potted and wrapped in cellophane packing tape, a process and visual that didn't appeal to me. I wanted something sturdier and more resistant to environmental changes.
Factory-made flat pickups were pricey, starting at $145 each. I wanted to build a pickup that was especially sturdy and had a wide-range of sound ability, but at a significantly lower price than factory-line pickups.
Over a period of several months of extensive research and experimentation building pickups by hand, I started developing an unusual design, significantly different than prior designs I had seen. Not a quick process. Hundreds of hours were involved in basic R&D. Detailed records were kept on all attempts-- gleaning the best features. Eventually, the FlatCat pickup was born.
By mid-2015 that R&D session had accomplished several things:
* Considerable improvement over existing design concepts both in construction and resulting sound. Testers stated it sounded better and was more versatile than other pickups.
* FlatCats are fully potted and encased in solid PolyResin, which makes them very sturdy and more immune to elements and the environment.
* Because of their design I was able to create and offer the first low-cost 6-string flat pickup on the market, intended for use on standard electric guitars. Where factory-produced pickups started at $145 and up, FlatCats are priced at $50 to $55. FlatCats had extended beyond the realm of cigar box guitars.
* Despite surprising gain in power, FlatCats remained wonderfully rich in tone. Now the pickup could range from mellow sound on the low end to a terrific natural-distortion grit on the high-end, making it the most versatile flat pickup ever made. From mellow blues to jazz to country to rock-- a single FlatCat could cover them all.
* FlatCat was released in Cigar Box Guitar and Humbucker footprints. Both models are aboout 1/4" thick and designed to be mounted to the surface of a guitar.
* In the electric guitar field a FlatCat could be used to replace an existing pickup (mounted to cover the existing pickup cavity), or if no pickup was present it could be mounted directly to the surface of the guitar without need for carving or routing. The only mounting requirement was drilling a relatively small hole for the wire, making installation of FlatCats very simple, even for beginners. (Full mounting structions are included with each FlatCat pickup.)
FlatCats were released to the market and over the next several months earned solid 5-star reviews. They were purchased by professional luthiers, cigar box guitar builders and customers modding their own off-the-shelf guitars. Repeat purchases by existing customers proved their effectiveness.
FlatCats are often specified as the "pickup of choice" by people who order custom guitars from Wishbringer, with those guitars receiving top reviews as well.
Today the FlatCat is available in a variety of colors, a primed model for painting your own designs on the surface, and a 24k gold foil laser-etched version. Their sturdy composition assures their continued function over decades-- the wonderfully unique sound available to you for your special guitar projects.