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Some Sustainiac History
In a fit of timeliness, this post just came across the normally silent
Michael Brook discussion group:
Date: Tue, 08 Aug 2000 17:27:27 -0400
Subject: Infinite guitar/Sustainiac
Hello, I had an interesting little conversation with the guy form Maniac
Music, Alan Hoover. A great great guy. I've had a couple of questions about
the new Stealth plus (Sustainer+ pickup). And I asked him if there was an
historical link between the sustainiac and the infinite guitar. I thought
it can be of some interest to post a part of his answer:
"We first made our acoustic type sustainer in 1986 (the Sustainiac Model T,
soon followed by the Model B). Then, we heard about the Brook Infinite
Guitar when U2 played in Indianapolis in late 1986, as I remember. Edge's
guitar tech called us, and allowed us to play a few notes on the instrument
after the afternoon sound check. I thought that seemed like a neat way to
make sustain, so we designed our own version of such a sustainer after
looking at the I.G.
The Infinite Guitar used a regular Duncan stack pickup for a driver. Since
this is a high impedance device, it requires around 100 volts of drive
signal to produce adequate magnetic drive into the strings. This seemed
kind of crazy to me, so shortly after that the Sustainiac GA-1 was born.
made a low-impedance driver so that the sustainer would run efficiently on
batteries. The driver could be used as a pickup by attaching a transformer
or amplifier to its output in order to increase the voltage output.
The "G" is for Gary Osborne, my partner in Maniac Music. This was followed
soon after by the GA-2. We subsequently filed and were granted several
patents on our refinements that allowed the magnetic sustainer to be used
a practical, manufacturable device. We never attempted to patent any of
basic principles, such as a pickup being used in reverse to drive the
strings, because we always felt that that credit belonged to Michael Brook.
Curiously, Michael (whom I met and talked to at length in 1990) never
followed up with his British patent that he filed sometime around the 1985
timeframe. Typically, patent offices reject first applications over
technicalities. It is up to the inventor to persist and argue his/her
Michael gave up and didn't argue his case, so he never got a patent. He
told me in conversation that he was very busy, and also really didn't know
that you could present an argument and maybe get your patent.
Then, Floyd Rose et al got a U.S. patent on a magnetic sustainer driver in
1990. Curiously, they claim never to have heard of the Brook device prior
to making their sustainer. I know of no facts to contradict this. We have
a patent cross-licensing agreement with them."
Well, I hope I didn't break a top secret thing (for MB and for M. Hoover),
but it was interesting.