The Polar™ Pickup System



The Polar™ Pickup System allows the player to select the direction of response to control attack, sustain, and bow response characteristics. The result is an exciting new dimension in string instrument performance, featuring:

  • Powerful dynamics
  • Rich, full sound
  • High sensitivity to the bow
  • Sustained pizzicato
  • Extended versatility

As a player, you may not think about the direction your strings are vibrating, or even be aware that string vibrations on a musical instrument are polarized in relation to the fingerboard and the motion of the plectrum and bow. Yet direction is one of the most significant factors influencing the tone and response of a stringed instrument. In fact, instruments from the violin family are different from the lute or guitar in large part due to the effects of string polarization.

The bow drives the string back and forth in the direction of the bow, while at the same time it suppresses the up and down vibration. You can see this effect with the naked eye by watching the wide excursion of the lowest strings when bowed. From the front, you can see a wide lateral pattern of string vibration, but looking from the side you can see almost no pattern at all. Instruments in the violin family have a tall bridge in combination with an asymmetrical support structure of bass bar and sound post that efficiently translate the sideways motion of the bowed string into sound.

The Polar pickup responds with a high degree of lateral sensitivity and vertical rejection that is tailored to mirror the polarity of the bowed string. The result is a remarkably dynamic, rich tone that responds effortlessly to the bow.

The Polar pickup takes this concept one step further, and is able to switch from lateral to vertical sensitivity, which is ideal for pizzicato. Unlike the violin, a flattop guitar or lute respond in the vertical direction, to minimize the plucked attack and store energy for longer sustain. With the touch of a finger, the polar pickup can switch from lateral to vertical mode. In the vertical mode the attack is controlled for a sustained, singing pizzicato response. The lateral mode has the opposite effect, and the plucked response is extraordinarily percussive, like a traditional bowed instrument, only more so. This dual capacity allows the player to control attack and decay, adding new expressive potential to the violin family of instruments.

CR and NXT Series violins, violas, cellos, and basses are equipped with the dual-mode Polar Pickup System. On CR Series instruments, bass and treble EQ controls combine with the Polar pickup options to provide tremendous tonal range. Pickup switching and associated pre-amp circuitry vary from model to model.