Photokina 2014 highlights

Music

RoboTar in action at Maker Faire

Of all the robots spotted at last month's Bay Area Maker Faire, the non-descript RoboTar definitely had the most distinctive groove. RoboTar is a robotic guitar hand that attaches to the neck of your instrument and takes care of that tricky fret work allowing for a new way to learn, play one-handed or even encourage experimentation for more experienced players.  Read More

Portalmod's MOD Duo prototype mounted in acrylic housing

The MOD system from Brazil's Portalmod was born of a desire to break free from the confines of carefully considered manufacturer-supplied digital effects for guitar and bass, and sail into the vast uncharted territory of independent developer-generated plug-ins. The hardware features its own mini computing system capable of wirelessly receiving user-customized virtual pedalboards configured via a browser-based interface. Having sold out of its original Quadra model, the company is currently making plans to release its next product, the MOD Duo, in the US.  Read More

Gizmag reviews the TriplePlay wireless MIDI controller and pickup from Fishman (Photo: Pau...

In addition to showing off its new Fluence pickup at this year's Winter NAMM, Fishman followed last year's debut of Godin's Session Custom TriplePlay guitar with a TriplePlay version of Fender's HSS Stratocaster. The wireless MIDI controller and hex pickup allows players to tap into a world of almost infinite digital sound generation, tracking the picking and neck action and sending the signals to a computer for processing and output. Gizmag was given the opportunity to give the system a whirl, but rather than break in a brand new instrument, we opted to attach the stand-alone version of the system to an otherwise innocent and unsuspecting guitar of our own.  Read More

The JamHub Tracker MT16 Wi-Fi-enabled multitrack recorder

Ahead of Nashville's Summer NAMM in July, JamHub Corp. has announced that it is now shipping the Tracker MT16 Wi-Fi-enabled multitrack recorder. The portable device is designed to allow musicians to capture up to 16 channels of post-trim, pre-fader, CD-quality recordings of live performances straight from the mixing desk, and wirelessly upload the files to the cloud for post production and release.  Read More

Livermore-based guitarist Brandon McCullough tries out the Dialtone 'infinitely adjustable...

The “right” guitar tone is an elusive and personal thing, and many seasoned guitarists strive to achieve a particular tone that reflects their musical style or matches the genre in which they are playing. In response to this, Dialtone is set to launch its new guitar pickup aimed squarely at the musician who likes to adjust their sound on the fly. Claimed to be the world's first on-guitar version of an infinitely adjustable pickup, the Dialtone promises a lot of tone control without the need for further effects boxes or software control.  Read More

The rather impressive Lego Techno step sequencer, complete with XY pad, faders and rotary ...

Lego. Is there anyone who doesn't love letting the creative juices flow to build everything from 3D printers to cars you can ride in to musical instruments? During the recent MidiHack weekend in Stockholm, Sweden, an unofficial collaboration between a university professor and three developers from Native Instruments yielded a rather impressive step sequencer, complete with XY pad, faders and rotary controls.  Read More

Fender's Special Edition Reclaimed Wood guitars

No matter how good the tone of modern materials such as Flaxwood and Arium are claimed to be, some players will simply not entertain owning a guitar unless it's made from vintage wood. Fender has soft-launched a Special Edition series of guitars aimed at players looking for the distinct tone of old growth timber, while enjoying the benefits of modern features and hardware. The company has secured a limited amount of reclaimed wood from obscure locations in the US for an interesting take on its iconic Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars. The redwood model is made using wood from the 1930s, and the pine models timber dates back to 1868 ... and you don't get much more vintage than that.  Read More

Luminlay's MA19 series glow-in-the-dark guitar knobs

Playing a bum note or starting off in the wrong key because you can't see where your hands are in a dimly lit club or quiet corner hideaway can be more than a little embarrassing, it could lose you money. Rather than lighting up a fretboard with LEDs to indicate fret positions on the neck (or just show off), Japan's Luminlay developed some glow-in-the-dark inlays that could be installed out front for everyone to see, or just up top to aid the player. Now the company has spread the idea to volume and tone knobs, making the numbers visible even when the lights are turned down real low.  Read More

The FretPen one-stringed guitar and pen

As fans of old delta blues will already know, even two or three strings on a guitar can be too many when belting out soulful music on a guitar-like instrument. Rather than changing the pitch of a long piece of tuned wire with a glass bottle or steel blade though, the FretPen uses technology to offer players three full octaves from just three frets on a real wood neck and a companion iPhone app. Oh, and it's also a pen.  Read More

The Drumstooled combines a kick drum, reversed pedal and height-adjustable stool

France's Patrice Bardin has come up with a stylish and eye-catching twist on self-accompaniment. Rather than stomp out a backbeat on a kick drum, home-made rhythm board or even an empty suitcase out front while thumping the strings of a battered acoustic guitar and throwing out soulful vocals, the Drumstooled is a mash up of a stool and an acoustic kick drum, with some colorful LED lighting thrown in for good measure.  Read More

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