Our History

Founder of Willcox GuitarsWillcox Guitars was born out of Christopher Willcox’s passion and dedication to the creation of a better electric guitar. In the early 1970’s, Willcox was engaged as an apprentice luthier in his home state of New Jersey, and then hired on as a custom builder. After moving to California in 1976, and opening his first guitar shop in 1980, he began designing and creating custom guitars. While building these guitars, Willcox experimented with different woods, materials, and methods, to achieve the ultimate tone and sustain.

However, one lingering problem always remained: the magnetic pickups used in traditional electric guitars have inherent noise, interfere with string vibration, and generate their own tone, never allowing the instrument to reach the perfection of its sound. Willcox believed that players should not just accept pickups with these inherent limitations, and his desire to solve this problem led him to begin designing a solution in his shop in Santa Barbara, California. In 1988, the first prototype of his invention – the optical pickup system – was developed.

This new pickup used infrared light rather than the traditional magnets and coils to sense string vibration, allowing the strings to vibrate naturally while producing clear, articulate, studio-quality sound with a sought after blend of rich tone, extended harmonic content, powerful sound, and long, natural sustain. Today, this same principle powers Willcox Guitars modern pickup systems. With his advanced technology in continuing development and production, Willcox reincorporated his company under the name LightWave Systems in 1998. A few years later, he expanded and began once again producing complete instruments, allowing him to achieve the ideal combinations of design and materials to complement his futuristic pickup system. He has now gone back to putting his name on his instruments. Thus, Willcox Guitars was officially reborn.

Today, Willcox Guitars continues and expands on the legacy of the LightWave Systems name, producing quality instruments for the modern musician. With six national and international patents backing their unique technology, Willcox Guitars, powered by LightWave Optical Pickups, are striving to become a new standard in the world of electric guitars, basses, and other fine string instruments. The LightWave pickup system is available exclusively on Willcox guitars, creating a harmonic combination of outstanding quality and cutting-edge technology.