Contributions to the development of a noncommercial simple cheap current based DIY pickup by

Buggy, darryl kernaghan, David L, Flatfish, Fornhorach, Hal Robertson, JL, John Sawyer, Joseph J. Rogowski, Matt Quinney, Nathan Binns, Paul Craig, Regan, Ron 'Oily' Sprague, RTZGUITARS, Timothy Hunter, turtlehead, Wayfinder.

Let me know if I didn't list your name.

Lace Alumitone, «technically a transformer»

German forum, with technical diagrams and photos

Interview with Don and Jeff Lace about the alumitone design

Further alumitone development, with Joseph Rogowski involved

Joseph Rogowski's contributions

Greg's Garage's approach

turtlehead's videos on youtube

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«As the builders become more and more creative and confident in their creations only the best products will be used», yeah, as I have my driver's license now three years, I should go out for a Porsche 911...

Yeah, I thought that was a pretty funny quote. I already own some of the best guitars in the world, with some of the latest tech. And what am I building (noir buying)? A 2x4 lap steel...muahahahahahahaha

so let me get this correct......CBG players and builders will use only the cheapest materials and electronics available to them? Funny, you should read into my "silly" quote a little more. Lace is offering another solution for the CBG player. I'm am sure there is more than a few of those player and builders that want to build with the best and play with the materials available to them. Hopefully, we are contributing to those folks and from the positive reviews from this community we are.


No, I think you misunderstand, and I also appear to have hit a nerve. Not ALL CBG players and builders will use the cheapest materials available. Just as not ALL CBG players, over time, will migrate to the best materials and techniques available. This means, as you well know, you may capture SOME of the CBG pickup market.

I understand you are proud of your technological advancements in pickup design. You should be. I have read your Sensor patents, and believe I understand them. I myself have replaced the stock pups on my Fender MIJ Strat with Alumitones, and I love the tone! So I am a customer. A happy one. And I like your idea of the Matchbook pickup. What I would like to see in that design is an attempt to get the form factor to look a bit different, so a builder doesn't have to cur a hole in the top of a box he may be trying to preserve, or dink with chopping and changing a neck-through to accommodate the secondary coil. Push it out to the side, like your Mando-Sensor. And this doesn't mean I won't, at some point, purchase a Matchbook.

If it seems like I and perhaps others are giving you sh*t, understand that it's in a two-fold manner: 1) it's generally good-natured, even though it may not sound like it (didn't you have brothers? And Internet forums are notoriously bad at nuance and tone of voice), and 2) it's how we customers prod people to improve their products. Crankily, especially if one is somewhat older. The Matchbook is a kewl design, yes. Now go make it better, if you like my suggested improvements, which are directed at real design decisions faced by many many builders and players here, and 3) maybe drop your prices a tad, since a LOT of builders and players migrated to CBGs because of cost, as well as simplicity. Can I afford to purchase a Matty Baratto CBG fitted with a Matchbook? My 6K 914CE Taylor Grand Auditorium, and 30 other guitars, both CBG and commercial names, say Yes. Am I gonna? Nope. Not right now.

I'm too busy designing and building a quirky 2x4 git for a contest.

You want me to write a positive review? Send me a Matchbook. I'll put it in the lap steel, see whether I like it. If I do, I'll keep it, send you $50, and write a good review. If I don't, I'll send it back, and pay the shipping charge...

Donald hi,

I think you misunderstand us: Ron and I both know what are Alumitones and we like them much, we have rather problems about how you see the market for Matchbooks. Check the pictures on cigarboxnation and you will find some boxes with Alumitones or Sensors, but you will not find a lot more builders they pay $75 for a Matchbook as before for a Sensor or Alumitone for $100 for cigar box guitars: it will be a niche market.

Chickenbone John built two high end cigar box guitars with Matchbooks, check his opinions about the pickups on,, I think you will hear more from him.

Pricing is one point of criticism, the other is engineering: as Shane said, «I'm building an entire cigar box guitar around it in order to test it», that's not the way we are used to, and it means, that it will not be simple to move a Matchbook to another box. I built one where I can exchance the pickup in seconds and move it around to check how it sounds in different positions, except a Matchbook, or maybe an original Charlie Christian pickup:

Last but not least: your Lace web site is a real nuisance: ordering from Switzerland, at the end of the process at checkout I end up with: «Admin Error: There are no methods available for your shipping destination».

Nice to discuss with you, maybe we both will get a better understanding of the other side...

Sorry, while that's cool, I was thinking more this, something that clamps to the end of the neck. Although it probably uses a similar mechanism  and bears study. To be honest, I kind of read the last couple posts as disrespectful to Lace and Co., glad to hear you guys didn't mean it that way. He has done so much for the industry that I would hate to see him disrespected. I think part of the issue is CBG builders are really anti establishment,, kind of like like how rat rodders don't like using shiny bolt on billet hot rod accessories, we tend to drift towards crude and eccentric and take pride in it. I doubt many of us would use Lace pickups for most builds, but I could see them being used for special ones. With that being said I see many uses for these pickups in other instruments too, and I think they are a great contribution to what we do.


Have to agree with that Reagan, Donald has been most forthcoming with info so far, of course he is not going to share the final details that have been achieved after rigorous testing and qc considerations that allow him to market his pups commercially, nor should we expect him to. As to the pricing, that will find it's own level, the market will dictate that at the end of the day, people already pay prices higher than m/book prices for cbg pups, and will probably keep doing so.


Spot on.

Hey guys,

Chickenbone John released a video showcasing the Lace Matchbook pickup, here's the link

I have to say,, sounds fantastic to me!


Mr. Speal, I'm not amused to see things like this on the net: GoogleHit. You should be young enough to know the net doesn't forget. Now to the content of your comment: you know nothing about what you are speaking about. Unfortunately, a week after you barfed to my carpet, I have to assume you really believe what you posted, and I don't like the idea that you will continue to spread your kellyanne conway facts:

«Don Lace invented a pickup, then Don joined the Nation to defend his patent»: to be correct, it was Jeff Lace who didn't invent a pickup but patented a sophisticated implementation based on a concept invented by others: Joseph J. Rogowski experimented in the early seventies with this design and he found even a patent about «Means for Amplifying Mechanical Vibrations» dating from the late thirties. Patents serve to protect the commercial interests of their holders, but till now it seems rather that Lace will benefit from the hype about private noncommercial simple cheap current based DIY pickups on cigarboxnation: with their Matchbook pickup Lace is getting into a warmed up bed, they are getting good publicity for free, and even the critical reviews were all well-meant. Reviews like Chickenbone John's in this context cannot be bought with money. With an Alumitone humbucker on a cigar box guitar you could get similar results but it never has been a hype about them.

The lost thread which led to a DIY approach to build a simple and cheap current based pickup didn't rely on the specific Alumitone design which gave a primary impulse, but on Joseph J. Rogowski's posts on several forums, and in a later phase of the discussions he appeared in person on the scene: he brought the most important contributions to the discussions as he explained the underlying electrotechnical basics in detail and motivated the followers of the thread to experiment within concrete parameters given by him. Further, he presented a simple but sophisticated DIY implementation with all relevant details to build one. Last but not least, he made clear why there's no way to clone an Alumitone with a DIY approach.

«Wayfinder revealed the secrets of the Alumitone what he better wouldn't have done; he same way he did to Dan Sleep's Thinbuckers»: in the first comment of the first of the three threads the Alumitone was characterized as «technically a transformer», with the aluminum frame functioning as a single primary loop as shown by diagrams and photos in a technical review on a german forum linked to this comment: so what he had still to reveal? and what's wrong with a technical review which reveals the innards of a patented design? Dan Sleep's Thinbuckers are clones of Elmar Zeilhofer's «Original FlatPup» design, which he declared from the beginning as public domain. Further, it was not Wayfinder who recently posted a link to a video about how they are done, but John Mackay, and the video was not Wayfinder's, but Joës van Went's. To set the record straight.

Shane deleted his post right away. Probably a heat of the moment reaction and decided it was something that didn't need to be said. Bringing it up in thread a week later is pretty lame and unnecessary, Moritz. Maybe take a lesson from Shane on it and learn to let things go. Maybe you don't mean them that way but much of the time your posts come across as antagonistic. None of this is necessary, nor is it conducive to a healthy conversation.

Shane, I agree its awesome to have a rep from a manufacturer join in on the conversations, doubly awesome that a CBG specific product was produced for us.

Donald, I applaud and respect your bravery in wading into the waters of this maker community, I can honestly say that I have not run into that anywhere else.  It is my sincerest hope that you will find useful feedback by thoughtful and insightful mining of the comments here. We are an eclectic and diverse community, from the part-timers on shoe-string budgets, to the hobbyist engineers trying out as many of the 'what-if' they can for the fun of it, to the ones who make an income producing and selling the products of their art, from the timid to the tactful to the brutally frank, as you find on any social platform.


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