Christopher Willcox, LightWave Systems founder and CEO, began research and development on an alternative to conventional string instrument technology in 1996. The result of his efforts is the LightWave Optical Pickup System. Willcox, a professional luthier, used his extensive experience in design and construction of advanced electric guitars to conclude that the conventional magnetic pickup was limiting the performance potential of stringed instruments.
Willcox’s goal was to design and build stringed instruments with correct sustain and unmatched tone. Frustrated with the magnetic pickup’s inability to accurately represent string and instrument acoustic properties, he began development of an optical pickup that would liberate the string’s true voice, while eliminating the magnetic influence on the strings and the inherent noise of conventional pickups.
During the first phase of development, research was conducted on a single string optical test bench to determine the feasibility, configuration, and basic component selection of the proposed system. In January 1998, LightWave Systems formed its first OEM partnership with Zon Guitars, an influential and innovative bass manufacturer. Following this industry alliance, in January 2000, LightWave released its beta optical pickup system to the bass market and received an incredible response. Based on solid market feedback, LightWave launched its second version of the system, the LightWave Optical Pickup System, dubbed ‘S2′ in May 2001. The vastly improved S2, featuring the Company’s monolithic bridge design, six channel motherboard, and optional daughterboards, provides virtually unlimited tone and control configurations.
LightWave’s development is an evolution of the concept of the electric pickup providing musicians more responsive sound and a more accurate representation of their instrument and playing style. With correct sustain, greater dynamic range, and more tonal capabilities, musicians hear and feel all of the subtle nuances of an electric string instrument for the first time.
LightWave Systems focuses on research, product design, and expanding the awareness for its growing product line. Constantly in development of new products for the Optical Pickup, they are looking towards a glorious future for all types of stringed-instrument musicians who seek the ultimate in sound.