Gibson is pushing forward in its quest to build the most technologically advanced guitars on the planet, undeterred by many guitarists' disdain for its Robot Guitar technology and recent design choices. The New Dusk Tiger is an evolution of the Dark Fire, and it maintains and expands upon the Dark Fire's ability to tune itself in seconds and produce a huge range of tones. While it's a fully analogue instrument, the Dusk Tiger can be plugged into a PC to change tone, EQ and tuning settings to provide a range of customisation and gig setup options that simply dwarf the capabilities of any guitar that's come before it. Pity, then, that behind that glowing Master Control Knob it's packing a face only a mother could love!
In January 2008, Gibson introduced its Robot Les Paul, the first production guitar to incorporate the jaw-dropping ability to tune itself - and that was followed ten months later by the Les Paul Dark Fire, which updated the robot tuning mechanism and added an inbuilt piezo pickup to give players a broader range of tone options and the ability to produce sounds that range from fully rock electric almost back to the sound of an acoustic.
The latest model to be announced is the Dusk Tiger, which builds on the abilities of the Dark Fire but also concentrates on more intuitive controls. It's more of an evolution than the revolution Gibson's marketing department are touting it as, but it's still a significant step forward from previous models.
Check out some of its capabilities in these short videos:
Chameleon Tone editor software with 4-band EQ for each pickup
Following on from the Dark Fire's promise of delivering "every imaginable guitar sound," one of the Dusk Tiger's new features is the ability to plug the guitar into a PC and create new customised tone presets, blending a range of sounds from all the pickups, including the piezo, and setting 4-band parametric EQ on each pickup to achieve the perfect sound.
All this is achieved using fully analogue signal processing, despite the advanced digital interfaces.
Quicker and more intuitive Master Control Knob
Once you've designed your new tone, you can then assign it to a spot on the Master Control Knob (MCK) and sync it back into the guitar where you can access all your tones quickly and easily on the fly. The same knob also controls the Robot tuning system.
Faster Robot Tuning system
The excellent Robot tuning technology not only lets you tune your guitar within seconds at the press of a button, but allows you easy access to a broad and customisable range of alternate tunings through the MCK. It's as impressive as ever, with a re-string mode to set the tension on new strings, and another mode designed to help you set your intonation in seconds. It's also quicker than on previous models.
Active low-impedance converter
The Neutrix combination jack on the Dusk Tiger lets you use either a standard guitar lead or a low-impedance lead, which allows you to run a longer or lower quality cable without loss of signal quality or tone.
New rechargeable batteries
The Dusk Tiger ships with rechargeable batteries similar to those you'd use in a compact digital camera. They last longer than the old batteries (around 500 tunings instead of 200) and can be swapped out quickly if you keep a spare.
Every Dusk Tiger ships with a tailored copy of Ableton Live 8, a popular live looping/recording package, and the ability to run the guitar straight into a PC or Mac through FireWire or Roland GK-13 compatible Midi cables.
The Dusk Tiger's marblewood/mahogany body and design don't seem to be winning it many new fans at this stage - but design's a subjective thing, and importantly, Gibson seems committed to pushing this usable technology through its top-end guitar range.
At around US$4600 and with a limited run of 1000 expected to be made, the Dusk Tiger is available now at Gibson dealers. More information at the Dusk Tiger minisite.