Artec EXP is an excellent and affordable onboard booster that you can easily install on any electric guitar and bass.
It owns three functions in one device.
First: the frequency expander
Second: mid-band peak control
Third: flat booster
You can get two different version of the Artec EXP. The regular EXP model mounted on a push-pull potentiometer and the EX3.
The EX3 is the same circuit with a three positions toggle switch instead of a push-pull. It gives less control than the pot version, but if you lack room on your instrument, and you can’t add an extra potentiometer this is the way to go.
The frequency expander
When the potentiometer is on 10, it is a bass and treble boost. It gives a crystal-clear tone to the guitar.
Mid-Band peak control
When the pot is on 0, the EXP acts as a mid-boost.
When the pot is on middle position it is a neutral boost. It increases the signal without changing the tone of the instrument.
With the push-pull version, you can fine tune the boost effect. With the EX3 it’s all or nothing.
In the video included in this article, I’m comparing the Artec EXP onboard booster installed on three different custom guitars.
Even if I own an EX3 version of the Expand to Peak Controller, I do not test it in this video for the simple reason that the pickguard it is installed on is not placed on any guitar at the moment I was shooting the video.
You can install the EXP on any guitar or bass. Be it active or passive pickups.
As I explain in the video, the bigger the regular output of the pickup is, the less efficient the booster is going to be. On an active guitar, you won’t hear much difference with the Flat booster. On the other hand, if the pickups have low output, the boosted signal will not be as powerful as what you get with a loud pickup.
The effect used on all guitars are the same:
In the intro, I’m using some delay that I turned off in the remaining of the video.
The first guitar used in the video is a custom Stratocaster I built, featuring Artec HXTN Hot Rail Humbucker pickups. Those pickups have a ceramic magnet and are incredibly powerful. The neck pickup is 9.6 ohm, and the bridge pickup is 15.5 ohm.
Because of that high output, the flat boost is not as effective as it is on the two other guitars featured in the video.
Depending on the pickup output volume, the distortion sound sounds more or less heavy, with and without the EXP. It’s normal. That is the exact and main reason why I have so many guitars. Because effects react differently depending on the pickup installed.
The second custom Stratocaster features Artec P51 Humbucker vintage pickups in the neck and bridge position and a Gretsch Electromatic Lap Stell guitar pickup in the middle position.
The Neck is 8.4k, and the bridge is 16k. Even if the numbers are almost the same as the Artec HXTN, the overall output is much lower using the Artec P51. They must operate at a different frequency. Those pickups sound brighter than the Artec HXTN. Because of that, the flat boost is more efficient on that guitar than the first one. The distortion sounds thinner too.
The third and last guitar used in this video feature Chinese copy of the vintage wide range pickups from Fender. But they have the regular humbucker mounting screw instead of the 4 bolts feature on Telecaster models.
Pickups resistance are:
Neck: 7.80 K ohm
Bridge: 11.7 K ohm
They are the lower output of the three, and therefore they sound the warmest and less aggressive of the three guitars.
The middle pickup is a neck pickup from a Telecaster I bought at GFS. It is a slick model and sounds really good too. But I didn’t use it in the video to demo the EXP.
It is incredibly easy to install. The most complicated part is to find a place to locate the battery. As demonstrated in the video, I had to route a slot to insert a battery case. If you do not use you vibrato, you can slide the battery in between springs or you can place it inside the pickup rooting. If you take that last path, you’ll have to remove the pickguard every time you’ll have to change the battery.
Places to get the Artec EXP
If you want to build a pickguard owning the same pickups used in the video, here are some links where you can get them.
Pickups used in the video
Feel free to ask or comment this article using the contact form bellow. I’d be happy to help you or read your point of view.
I am Hervé Senni, a pro musician and performer for quite some time.
My main musical instrument is unquestionably the electric guitar. Nevertheless, I also perform bass guitar, mandolin, Ukulele, and invented string instruments. I am also a composer as well as an arranger. Over the years, repairing and trying to further improve electric guitars that a majority of times did not have to be upgraded converted me right into a self-taught luthier.