Hailing from Finland, Ruokangas has announced the Valvebucker, which the company reckons is the first ever tube-driven electric guitar pickup. Will it burn your fingers or just produce some smokin’ tone?
Here’s the basic idea: put a valve inside a pickup loaded on a guitar. But can this even work? Well, it has a tube-amplified active preamp circuit utilising triode and pentode NOS valves. That’s then powered by an XLR cable running to an external 12V AC power supply in the floor. Ruokangas says the Valvebucker uses very low voltages and makes use of ‘sweet spots’ found outside typical operational points of vacuum tubes.
It all sounds a bit odd, but I’ll go with it if it works. Colour me interested! I’m a guitarist with a weird obsession with valves. As long as I don’t burn my fingers on hot tubes when I’m playing, I am game for this.
See the diagram below to see how it all works. The pedal has two inputs: one XLR coming from the Valvebucker, the other normal TRS from your normal guitar. The footswitch toggles between the two inputs.
It all sounds like it should work and I think I’m safe in saying my fingers won’t get toasted at such low voltages. The system uses standard volume and tone controls which are wired via a three-way switch and a two-way boost switch.
The only real downside is you can only get it fitted to your Ruokangas guitar, and even then it will cost an additional EUR 1,200. I kind of wanted to fit one to my Jazzmaster, pity. I might just have to order a new guitar then!
But seriously, it looks like a really interesting idea and I would love to try one out myself. I’m a sucker for a (not so) hot tube and this whole system intrigues me. Go on, check out the demo video below, you know you want too.