Pole Position pickup rides the rail for tweakable tone
Mike Canavan is on a mission to bring guitarists the "greatest possible range and control over their tone" on a single instrument. The patented Pole Position Sliding Pickup System allows players to change the position of a guitar's pickup relative to the strings on the fly. This means a string-picker can opt for a bright bridge tone or a fat, warm neck tone, or anything inbetween – all with just a light touch from the picking hand.
Canavan reports that the Pole Position guitar has been two years in development, with several prototypes being created, including mechanisms with wood sliders and metal poles, before the current single rail setup was installed in the carved out pickup cavity of a Strat-shaped guitar. He says that the single humbucker block can be moved back and forth with a just light touch and players can look forward to wide changes in tone and subtle accents. When not sliding along the rail, the pickup block will stay put at a desired position until moved again.
For the final production model, Canavan intends to use maple or ash for the body, and a maple neck topped by a maple fingerboard. He's aiming for an overall weight of under 5 lb (just over 2 kg). Future plans include tremolo system options, the introduction of a model which allows a player to switch the humbucker to single coil operation and a hollow body version.
The Pole Position system is certainly an interesting idea, but that cavity looks like a bit of a dust trap that could prove awkward to clean. It's still in development though, and perhaps that open design will change ahead of the projected consumer release in the (northern) summer of 2016. Before that, Canavan is raising funds on Kickstarter for the push to market availability.
To get one of the first Pole Position guitars out of the shop, backers will need to pledge at least US$350. If all goes to plan, delivery is set to begin in July of next year. The video below shows Canavan demonstrating the system.