Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Music

The Farmer's Mill Electric Mud Grinder from Crushsound

Inspired by the kind of brown or muddy tones produced by ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons on tracks like Loaded from the 1996 album Rhythmeen, Jedrzej Lewandowski of Poland's Le 2 Workshop architects created the Farmer's Mill, which was unleashed, appropriately enough perhaps, on April 1 2012. The second generation has now been released. It's a little bigger than its predecessor, a lot better, and is now available in orange as well as white. Gizmag has spent the last few weeks making guitars wheeze, cough and splutter like they've been smoking 40-a-day since birth, and walks way mighty impressed with the destructive capabilities of the Mark II Electric Mud Grinder.  Read More

Ototo turns everyday objects into musical instruments

London-based creative design and invention studio Dentaku has developed a small device that allows users to create their own musical instruments out of everyday items. The Ototo is a simple printed circuit board (PCB) synthesizer that combines sensors, inputs and touchpads as a means of producing sounds. The device can be used as a keyboard straight out of the box or can be attached to conductive materials using crocodile clips to create entirely new instruments.  Read More

The Volcano features a portable top speaker, that can be docked with a larger sub-woofer

There are certainly a multitude of compact, portable Bluetooth speakers out there, although many of them don't feature the satisfying bass response of larger models. That's where the two-part Volcano comes in. Its top speaker can be toted around and used on its own, or plugged into the sub-woofer base unit to deliver the full "oontz-oontz-oontz" experience.  Read More

The custom graphics on the Indus guitar from France's Kompozit Guitars

Many veteran guitarists believe that great tone can only come from instruments made using exotic hardwoods. This hasn't stopped makers from trying other materials, though, including Ampeg's iconic Dan Armstrong-designed Plexiglas guitar, the all-metal Gittler Guitar, and the 3D-printed guitar from AweSome Musical Instruments. For its new line of hand-made, Tele-shaped axes, France's Kompozit Guitars has chosen to give polyester-based fiberglass a whirl.  Read More

The travel-friendly Fender VA acoustic guitars

Taking an acoustic guitar with you when you travel can be a lesson in compromises. You may have to make do with an odd-shaped instrument, a short necked model, or a cheap throw-away that produces poor sound. Wouldn't it be great if you could strap a full-sized Fender to your back, but still be able to meet commercial airline carry on luggage size restrictions? The iconic guitar maker has released two travel dreadnoughts with a Voyage-Air hinge mechanism that allows the instruments to fold in half.  Read More

The skye system allows users to wirelessly play their music on devices that would not norm...

Many of the latest music players are launching with Wi-Fi for sharing music from a computer, iOS, or Android device. Perhaps you have an older model, and you still want to be able to take part in the wireless music listening fun. A new product called the Auris skye aims to bring such an experience to existing docks with a 30-pin connector.  Read More

The all-titanium Gittler Guitar

Back in January, the beautifully minimalist Gittler Guitar made its public debut at the Winter NAMM show in Anaheim, CA. Little more than a long rod topped by 31 rounded frets with built-in electronics, the all-titanium guitar has now launched on Kickstarter ahead of its first production run in December.  Read More

Gizmag gets to grips with the QuNeo 3D Multi-Touch Pad Controller

Musicians are spoilt for choice when it comes to MIDI controllers, but the QuNeo 3D Multi-Touch Pad Controller from Keith McMillen offers a new take on a familiar form, boasting a mix of pressure-sensitive touch sliders, velocity-sensitive pads, and 251 programmable LED lights – all in a package that's the same size as an iPad. Gizmag puts it through its paces.  Read More

The iRig BlueBoard wireless MID pedalboard from IK Multimedia

When I reviewed the OPC Musician's Computer in March 2012, I also got the opportunity to sample a full-featured version of IK Multimedia's equally impressive AmpliTube 3 guitar effects and amp simulation suite. I did note, however, that one downside was having to activate virtual pedals and tweak settings via the mouse (or in the case of iOS versions, by touching the virtual controls on the screen). The latest addition to the company's iRig family puts parameter control at your feet, in a wireless pedalboard called the BlueBoard.  Read More

Shawn Steen with his ergonomically-designed guitars

Guitars like Gibson's iconic Flying V, just about any BC Rich model, or Bob Wiley's Ministar travel guitars may well stand out in any crowd, but they're not exactly built for comfort. Guitar maker Shawn Steen has spent the last two years tweaking and testing an instrument designed to comfortably fit the shape of a player's body, while looking good and sounding great. The final adjustments have been made, all the choice components selected, and the first show models created. Now it's launch time for the new line of hand-made ergonomic guitars.  Read More

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