Preliminary Info... The PX-Axe ("Pix - Axe")
You'll have to hear this to believe!
You may have seen these little travel guitars made by AppleCreek, kicking around. I first found one sold at a Renaissance fair. I was very impressed because despite its size, the neck (and hence string lengths) were very close to a standard short scale neck (approximately like a Les Paul). So a standard set of acoustic strings have pretty normal tension and it stays in tune well. Bottom line, it was very playable.
Well much like other lower cost guitars, it needed some work:
fret leveling, nut adjustments and other tweaks. I even had to add a "ZERO fret" to attain the perfect intonation and action I expect. So I did that work first and was very pleased. But of course it has a very small body, and can barely be heard in a quiet room.
So I set out to amplify it, starting with the installation of a single coil strat style pickup, a simple volume control, and an output jack to connect to an amplifier. It took considerable experimentation to find the right pickup, but in the end its sound was pretty impressive... almost like a mini Telecaster!
But I didn't stop there... I wanted to be able to use this instrument outside, and at least keep up with other acoustic instruments. But who wants to lug an amplifier around? So the next step was to see if it was possible to build a self powered amplifier right into the guitar!
Now needless to say, building an amplifier right into any acoustic guitar is not trivial if decent volume and tone are expected. To offer high quality sound from such a small box, two 20 watt high efficiency class D amplifiers were employed. One drives a high quality full range speaker, and the other drives a tweeter through a 2nd order crossover network. The goal here was to create pleasant full bodied tone that did not sound like a tinker toy. Toward that goal, carefully tuned narrow band electronic filters were needed to precisely cancel body resonance, avoiding unacceptable acoustic feedback without sacrificing tone. Next, an active (rather then passive) tone control was added, so the higher harmonics can be alternately amplified or cut. Then finally, a compressor/limiter circuit was added, to further enhance the volume level during quiet playing. Power is optionally supplied by alkaline cells, or a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack, complete with battery health monitor and over-discharge protection circuitry. There is even a boost regulator, to ensure full power within the entire life span of the battery
I'll post more technical data as development is brought to a close. But as of now this has been an extremely successful project. By successful I mean that this tiny guitar now comes closer to the sound of a full body size acoustic then you would believe, while actually being significantly louder. The sound quality blew me away, and is better than anything I could have imagined!
Now I won't pretend PX-Axe can substitute for all the fine nuances and harmonic content of a full sized acoustic, but I guarantee you will find its tone and volume unbelievable! This is now the ultimate Elfin travel guitar, so I'll call it the PX-Axe (pronounced "Pix - Axe"). But more than a travel guitar, it is perfectly useable for outside performance situations such as Ren-fairs, festivals, and acoustic jam sessions. As a bonus, a jack permits pre-amp output to an external amplifier or PA, for stage use with other electric instruments. The optional Lithium-ion battery will last many hours on a charge, and the intonation is excellent due to the individual alignment and fret work done on each instrument. Expect to see a video demo here soon, and availability for orders in Summer, 2017.