From Hendrix to Ranaldo with a stop over at the Hammond rotary speaker
Deimel Guitarworks proudly presents LesLee®
Automated PickUp Switch with SpeedControl
Stretching the boundaries of the Deimel Firestar as an experimental guitar, we revitalized a revolutionary idea of my old pal Pascal Stoffels: the unit he invented, is to literally »rotate« the two pickups of any guitar, and let this rotation of bridge and neck pickup be adjustable in speed and intensity. After years of research and prototyping we are proud to finally offer this unit as an onboard effect on our guitars.
The idea is entirely protected (US trademark SN 86497602) and is named after Lee Ranaldo: Pickup LesLee®, who happened to got the very first prototype of it in his 12-string Deimel offset guitar we made for him in 2003. Lee played this guitar in 2006-2007 with Sonic Youth: http://www.sonicyouth.com/mustang/eq/gear.html
In the early 1990‘s we managed to build the first prototypes of electro motor driven pickup switches, one for a guitar with three pickups and one for a guitar with two pickups. The motor was connected to a self made pickup selector disc with the signals soldered to it.
Once the motor started the signals started to rotate in the speed of the motor in a rhythmical way. The obvious trouble with these prototypes was the electromagnetic radiation of the motors feeding into the signal.
The idea of a pure mechanical solution was thought of but never built: A clock like windup mechanism with the necessity of having to wind up your guitar before playing a gig to enjoy a certain amount of effect time.
At some point we left behind the electro motor driven models and went for an »electronic« version. We developed simple versions that worked alright but lacked perfection in the way the switching was executed. It resulted in audible cracks while switching from one pickup to the next. Nevertheless, these versions served their purpose well and had their own noisy clicking charm. After several approaches by a number of electronic nerds that we attracted to the project we are now ready to present the dream version of our old idea, featuring the following:
1. clean Cross Fade Switching
2. fully variable Speed Control
3. Intensity control
4. Mono & Stereo functionality for double amping
How does it sound?
The sound is remarkably close to a Univibe or a real Hammond Lesley box, but also very unique in its own, as it uses two different signals for the input effect: neck and bridge pickup with their different frequency response, being bright versus warm!
As bridge and neck »swap« into each other, the sound reminds of Jimi Hendrix while using the pickup slider switch for Voodoo Child for instance. Jimi Hendrix actually used this method by utilizing the pickup selector switch for continuous switching on long single notes and so creating a kind of tremolo/vibrato effect through the on-board possibilities on his Stratocaster®. But the actual idea of the Pickup LesLee™ is to »automate« this effect and to change its speed and intensity.
The unit can be adjusted from very low speed to very high speed sounding almost like a ring modulator. We had various approaches of installing the unit into the guitar, (first prototype is being used by Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo), and found a congenial way of making use of traditional wheel pots for speed and intensity. We now offer the unit officially in our Firestar LesLee® edition for anybody. The unit is not available separately. Only as a custom feature in a Firestar guitar.
The PickUp LesLee® is available in select Deimel guitars and is part of the Deimel custom features catalogue. For maximum comfort a »Double-Mono / Stereo« foot switch is available for playing 2 amps. This switch allows to choose from »one pickup per amp« (stereo) or the standard »alternating pickups from both amps« (double mono).