The soul of a new guitar is infrared.
From the days of Les Paul and Charlie Christian to those of Eric Clapton and Metallica, the electric guitar has remained basically the same. A "pickup" consisting of a magnet surrounded by a coil of wire is placed close to a metal string. The string's vibration changes the magnetic field, which transmits an electric signal through the coil. This signal is then broadcast through an amplifier.
But California's Lightwave Systems is about to introduce something new: an optical system that uses infrared light to cast a shadow of the string onto a series of photodetectors. As the string vibrates, the shadow does too, modulating a current and producing a signal much like a magnetic pickuponly a lot better.