For roughly the last decade, we’ve been working on designing and developing a worthy successor to Rickenbacker’s classic 331 LS “Light Show” guitars. We designed a radical solid body with a unique inline headstock that captures the feel of a vintage offset guitar, and refined it to the point of practical production, without losing any of the design energy that our original rough sketch inspired many years ago. We patented the design of the body and headstock, and trademarked the “Pulstar” name and logo—a word that conveys exactly the effect that is experienced by playing these guitars.

Along this extended timeline, the circuitry was developed, and then underwent several revisions to get exactly the effect we wanted, in as user-friendly and reliable package as possible.

The end result uses a circuit featuring a 3-channel color organ, responsive to both frequency of the notes played, and the strength of the pick attack. We began with a 15-LED circuit, using very high intensity standard 5mm LEDs, and progressed to a proprietary circuit which uses 30 surface-mount subminiature LEDs in three discrete colors, of much higher light output than the originals, all power by a single 9V battery accessible in seconds through a compartment in the back of the guitar body. We added a PCM feature, so the LEDs “turn on” and off more like incandescent bulbs—not instantly, but more gradually for a friendlier visual effect.

We updated the whole “Light Show” concept with new colors like Matte “Billet Ruby” and “Billet Carbon Black”, and classics like high gloss Lake Placid Blue and high gloss Pearl White. We incorporated classic design features like an offset-style vibrato and matching painted headstock with vintage-style enclosed tuners with butterbean keys. The electronics use twin snarly P-90 type pickups with a VVT control layout for a wide variety of sonic options, and the LEDs are housed behind translucent diffuser panels in a new, updated design. The guitars come with ultra-premium hardshell cases, with thick white-piped black vinyl end-caps and silver gray crushed velour “poodle” lining and cushions on all edges for maximum protection.

These guitars premiered at the 2019 South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, and were very well-received. They will be available to the general public about June 1, 2019. For more information, see the PULSTAR website.