A Little Thunder 2: Meet the Smart Pickup That Adds a Bass Signal to Your Guitar

Austin Hanks [left] and Billy Gibbons road-test A Little Thunder's new ALT 2 guitar pickups in Chicago (and yep, that's Matt Sorum on drums) (Image credit: Claudia Brennan)

One afternoon, Andy Alt — who has spent a decade working with artists as a touring guitarist and with Steve Vai as his online marketing director — was jamming with a drummer and thinking it would be nice to have a bass tone in the mix — “but without adding a third party,” he recalls. Whereas most guitarists might just reach for an octave pedal, Alt chose a different path: He designed an entirely new piece of equipment — a revolutionary pickup that’s now on the market under the name A Little Thunder.

The pickup fits into any guitar with a humbucker rout and allows the player to drop the bottom one, two or three strings by -1 octave or -2 octaves, offering the ability to get a dedicated bass signal without making any physical modifications to the instrument. To compliment the octave-drop mode, there’s also a “low note priority” option that detects the lowest note being played (for example, in a five- or six-string barre chord) and gives the bass effect to only that tone. Essentially, A Little Thunder is an octave effect but one that, unlike a stompbox, offers near-zero latency and the ability to assign the pitch-shifting to particular tones and strings.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Richard Bienstock

Rich is the co-author of the best-selling Nöthin' But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the '80s Hard Rock Explosion. He is also a recording and performing musician, and a former editor of Guitar World magazine and executive editor of Guitar Aficionado magazine. He has authored several additional books, among them Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, the companion to the documentary of the same name.