Andy Alt’s new pickup is called A Little Thunder, and it’s an apt name.
A Little Thunder lets you add a bass signal to the two lowest strings on your electric guitar, giving you the ability to play guitar and bass parts simultaneously on one instrument.
The humbucker-sized pickup replaces an existing humbucker on your guitar, but it requires no physical modifications, such as drilling or routing. Alt says installation takes about five minutes.
There’s also no need for nine-volt batteries or MIDI; a built-in lithium battery can be charged with a standard cell phone cable. The battery offers 12 hours of play time, or a year’s worth of standby time, on a single charge.
A Little Thunder is essentially two pickups in one. The top pickup allows all six strings to be heard as they normally are. A second pickup for the two low strings processes the signal at either one or two octaves lower.
The pickup has three controls on its custom-designed pickup ring: an on/off switch, a -1 or -2 octave switch, and a switch to select Polyphonic or Low-Note-Priority mode. Polyphonic mode lets you play two bass notes at once; in Low-Note Priority mode, the pickup detects the lowest note played and applies the bass effect only to that note.
A Little Thunder also features capacitive touch controls for easy access, with optional soldering points on the back should you want to add physical buttons to control the effects. A small switch on the pickup’s face lets you place the pickup in “airplane mode” to prevent it from turning on via capacitive touch—piece of mind for long trips, tours and the like. In addition, a small red light above the USB port activates when there is 30 minutes of playing time left.
Because the technology is housed in the pickup, there are no latency or tracking issues that can occur with external devices, like octave pedals.
Best of all, you have the option of sending the guitar and bass signals to the same amp or to separate amps. The pickup ships with a stereo jack that replaces your existing jack. The jack accepts mono cables (guitar signal only ), a 1/4-inch stereo cable to send both guitar and bass signal to one amp, and a stereo Y cable to send the signals to separate amps.
Alt notes that ZZ Top legend Billy Gibbons recently came by his shop to try out some guitars fitted with A Little Thunder—“and it was just awesome,” Alt says, “first to hear from him, and then get to spend time with the legend and talk about the product.”
A Little Thunder pickups are shipping now. Each shipment includes the pickup, stereo jack and stereo Y cable, as well as a micro-USB charging cable for the internal battery, “Quick Start” installation instructions, a user guide, U.S.- and metric-size pickup ring adjustment screws, and support info.
For more information and to order, visit ALittleThunder.com.