Last Thursday, I had the honor of test-driving the world’s first antimatter guitar pickup.
I just got back from a trip to
Switzerland and, boy, what
a trip it was! I usually avoid
writing about gear or technical
stuff, but this time I can’t help
it. Last Thursday, I had the
honor of test-driving the world’s
first antimatter guitar pickup.
That’s right, folks, antimatter
technology is here!
The pickup is being made by Uniglo, and it’s pretty incredible. It just blows my mind to think that inside the “lipstick” aluminum cylinder is a mini universe ... and it’s being used as a guitar pickup!
So how does it sound? Spectacular! It has a warm, organic tone, and I found myself loving every note and getting giddy like a 12-year-old who has just discovered distortion for the first time.
The pickup’s magnetic field is so strange. If you move your picking hand over it just right, you can increase the sustain— and, if you really get close and cover it up a bit, the sound almost takes on an EBow-like quality. It certainly will require learning new techniques to master all that this pickup can offer, but if you’re like me, you’ll simply think, bring it on.
Installing this bad boy does require some skill, as some pickup cavities may need a touch of routing work. The wires terminate in easy-to-attach connectors (no soldering needed). However, your guitar’s potentiometers will need to be replaced with Uniglo components. So, although it’s not a big deal, I’d recommend that you hire a professional luthier to do the installation.
What is antimatter exactly? Antimatter is the opposite of everything that is. It’s actually moving backward in time ... it’s ... okay, I still don’t really know exactly what it is, except that it makes black holes, time travel, and Star Trek episodes possible. Apparently, antimatter can destroy the earth—and possibly the entire universe—if not handled properly. So, again, hiring a professional luthier to do the installation would be a wise move.
So how did we get here? How did we actually get to the point of harnessing antimatter for products such as guitar pickups? Well, there’s this huge underground tunnel in Switzerland that forms a perfect circle—I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s called the Large Hadron Collider or CERN. Governments have spent billions of dollars on it in hopes of finding the secrets of the universe and new technologies that can be used to solve the world’s energy problem. Last year, the scientists at CERN discovered how to capture and control antimatter. They also discovered hundreds of cool uses for it and have started selling patent rights to several companies.
I’m told that antimatter cannot come into contact with matter, so how do we safely contain it? It’s easy, actually. I watched as scientists crashed two atoms together at the speed of light and—bam!—there it was, a tiny black hole contained inside an invisible magnetic field. (That’s the key, a magnetic field.) Then, technicians carefully placed another magnetic field inside the Uniglo pickup cylinder and slowly placed the cylinder over the antimatter. When the two magnetic fields come into contact with each other, they become one. The techs explained that this was like two drops of water that touch each other. Then the antimatter just follows the magnetic field up into the pickup cylinder. The cylinder is then permanently sealed and that’s it. It’s really entertaining to watch the whole operation—it’s quite ritualistic, almost like a dance. You can check out the process at uniqlo.jp/uniqlock/. I highly recommend it.
True—the pickup only has a two-year life span, but Uniglo is offering an exchange program. For a small service fee, they will recharge the pickup with antimatter. The cost of the pickup is rumored to be near the $500 mark. But, as with anything else, I’m sure in time that price will come down.
Uniglo has bought patent rights to this technology and is planning to release the UNI-QLOCK guitar pickup on April 1st, 2012, permits permitting. They are also working on other products like the Waste-to-Aqua toilet filter for good tasting H20 and a portable cat washer called Cat in the Box. The company currently sells oceanfront property in Utah, and I suggest you buy some! I’m digging mine.
Randy Parsons builds guitars for Jack White, Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, and other adventurous players using out-of-the-box materials like bone, flowers, copper, and solid ebony.