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A Little Thunder Pickups: Play Guitar and Bass Simultaneously — Demo Video

Guitarist Andy Alt has introduced a new electric guitar pickup — dubbed "A Little Thunder" — that allows guitarists to play guitar and bass simultaneously.

A Little Thunder, which was designed to replace a humbucker, adds a bass signal to the two lowest strings on electric guitars, leaving the signal of all six guitar strings in tact.

The addition of the bass feature requires no physical modifications to the guitar: no drilling, routing or adding strings. Nor will guitarists need to replace 9-volt batteries or use MIDI. They just need to remove their existing humbucker, and — with about five minutes of installation time — they'll have the ability to push a button to activate A Little Thunder.

The three controls are on the custom-designed pickup ring: an on/off switch, a -1 or -2 octave switch and a polyphonic (two bass notes at once) or “low note priority” mode (The pickup detects the lowest note being played and applies the bass effect only to that note).

Because the technology is housed within the pickup, players will experience virtually no latency or tracking issues, which they might experience with external technologies, such as octave pedals.

A Little Thunder launched its Kickstarter campaign today (October 8, 2014), seeking to meet a $35,000 fundraising goal to go into production. Rewards for Kickstarter backers include a Steve Vai-autographed 1987 Ibanez RG550 prototype; a trip to Disneyland with Drake Bell; guitar lessons with Adam Ross (Rihanna), Gretchen Menn or Daniele Gottardo; the first serial numbers of the pickup; limited-edition designs by artist/musician Trisha Lurie and lots more.

The Kickstarter video, which you can see below, features several artists trying A Little Thunder for the first time, including Jonny Two Bags (Social Distortion), Kirk Douglas (the Roots), Adam Levy (Norah Jones), Brad Oberhofer (Oberhofer) and more.

A Little Thunder was conceived, patented and created by Alt, the online marketing director for Steve Vai, and, along with Vai, co-founder of Alt also serves as lead guitarist for Drake Bell of Nickelodeon’s Drake and Josh.

“Prototypes of A Little Thunder have been incredibly fun and addicting to experiment with, and now it’s going to be available to anyone who wants to go deep into the depths of their guitar’s dark (but beautiful) soul," Alt says.

"Metal players can now get super-heavy sounds without having to relearn an instrument that has more strings, jazz players can subtly add bass to comp along with their lines and singer-songwriters will sound fuller. My favorite configuration so far is the duo setting, where two people will now sound like much more. The most exciting part is to see what musicians will do with A Little Thunder.”

For more information about A Little Thunder, check out the video and photo gallery below, visit its Kickstarter page and official website and follow along on Facebook.

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Damian Fanelli

Damian is editor-in-chief of Guitar World magazine. From 1998 to 2014, he was one third of Mister Neutron, an instrumental rock act that toured the universe and elsewhere and released three albums via Austin-based Deep Eddy Records. These days he performs with several New York City-area bands and can often be spotted with one of his many, many, many B-bender-equipped guitars. In past lives he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor – and he still can’t believe he got to write the liner notes for the latest SRV box set.