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Peavey Electronics and Parker Guitars first to launch Auto-Tune guitars

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January 19, 2012

Peavey Electronics and Parker Guitars have teamed up with Antares to launch the first elec...

Peavey Electronics and Parker Guitars have teamed up with Antares to launch the first electric guitar incorporating Auto-Tune technology

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The sound and feel of modern music was changed forever in the late 1990s when Antares launched its Auto-Tune pitch correction technology. As well as putting some life back into flat performances, the system was also used to great effect by the likes of Cher and T-Pain to give a unique twist to vocal tracks. The company announced its intention to bring the technology to the electric guitar in May 2011, sending shivers down the spines of purists everywhere. Now Peavey and Parker have launched the first guitars to incorporate Auto-Tune for Guitar and we've had the chance to take a closer look at the former's AT-200 in action at Winter NAMM in Anaheim. The verdict: pretty impressive.

When I first heard about Auto-Tune for Guitar from Antares last year, I have to admit to being a little apprehensive. We've all heard what the technology did for vocal performances, causing quite a bit of controversy along the way - could we expect similar highs or horrors (depending on which camp you belong to) from ATG-6? I'm happy to say that a press preview of the technology put my mind at rest.

The Auto-Tune for Guitar hardware

As well as automatically keeping an out of tune instrument in perfect concert pitch (without relying on robotic tuners like Gibson's Les Paul Dark Fire or Firebird X), and providing impressive intonation, the technology also offered guitar and pickup emulation (which allows one guitar to sound like many different models, similar to Music Man's Game Changer guitar), and popular alternative tunings like open D and DADGAD in an instant.

Auto-Tune for Guitar can also extend the scope of the electric guitar beyond what is usually possible - players can split a guitar's string setup, for instance, so that the low E and A strings can be used for bass lines, with the rest remaining in standard or alternative tuning, or turn a six-string into a twelve string without so much as touching the hardware setup.

Auto-Tune for Guitar is, of course, open to tonal experimentation in much the same way as the vocal version of the technology, and while a "T-Pain for guitar" may not sound too appealing, the possibilities for extending the reach of the electric guitar would appear to be limited only by the imagination of the artist. It will also undoubtedly save time in the studio by keeping instruments in tune throughout the whole recording session, and there's no longer a need to swap guitars during live shows or retune after every song.

It's been a good while since the original announcement but the technology is finally making its way to commercially-available instruments, courtesy of Peavey Electronics and Parker Guitars.

The Peavey AT-200

Peavey demonstrated its new AT-200 at NAMM, so we made the most of the opportunity to get up close. It looks and sounds like a conventional electric guitar but thanks to the built-in Auto-Tune technology, the instrument is always in tune, with perfect intonation. The Antares Solid-Tune Intonation system constantly monitors the pitch of a string and automatically adjusts the tuning and intonation so that each note or chord is always in tune. The technology is said to be intelligent enough to know when players are intentionally manipulating the pitch, such as bending a string or using vibrato.

The Peavey AT-200 featuring Auto-Tune for Guitar by Antares

As you can see, the guitar still has physical tuners and the strings will need to be fairly taught. There is a limit to how physically out of tune the guitar can be, but the NAMM demo we witnessed certainly showed that it can immediately correct what was a woefully out of tune guitar. We were particularly impressed by the technology being able to differentiate between a slight unintentional bend and a deliberate one. If the bend is way below a semitone, for example, the system will "assume" it's a mistake and will retain pitch.

Peavey hasn't revealed too much information about the guitar itself, the focus is very much on the Auto-Tune technology, but the built-in software can be upgraded and new features loaded into the guitar via a MIDI interface. The instrument can also be controlled by MIDI hardware running Auto-Tune software, and is not limited to hardware like foot switches and control surfaces, tablets and smartphones could also be used.

Peavey's AT-200 will be available from July 2012 for an, as yet, unspecified price.

The Parker ATDF842 Autotune MaxxFly

The Parker ATDF842 Autotune MaxxFly featuring full range Auto-Tune for Guitar technology b...

Parker Guitars has also incorporated the Antares pitch correction technology into one of its MaxxFly models, but has opted for the full sonic tweaking package. Additionally, the Parker ATDF842 Autotune MaxxFly offers guitar and pickup emulation, alternative tunings, and a virtual capo with a two octave range.

The guitar has a carved Alder body with a polyurethane finish and basswood neck with 22 frets on a fingerboard fashioned from a carbon-glass-epoxy composite. It also features Parker's own vibrato bridge and saddles, Sperzel tuners, Seymour Duncan pickups, and a 6-element Graphtech Ghost piezo.

As with the AT-200, the Autotune MaxxFly includes a MIDI interface that allows every function to be controlled by standard MIDI continuous controller messages from programmable control surfaces, foot controllers, computers and so on. The system's firmware can also be updated using standard MIDI Sysex files.

Availability is also penciled in for the middle of the year but again, pricing information has not yet been revealed.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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9 Comments

Oh for pete's sake just make a guitar that plays itself and we can all get on with our lives. How lazy can you get!

flibb
19th January, 2012 @ 09:43 pm PST

Auto-tune, yeah! How could we just live without it before? It's a failed concept, IMHO, guitarist in last 100 years had no problem tuning their guitars and performing amazing things. Totaly unneccessary, to say the least...

Михаил Финогенов
20th January, 2012 @ 03:32 am PST

Love it. Nothing worse than an out of tune performance or wonky set of strings. Effects?...Sure, but warm or cold, nothing beats the crystal clear concert tuning of a well made guitar with a perfect set of strings.

Mirmillion
20th January, 2012 @ 06:52 am PST

I saw a video demonstration of the Peavey guitar on PremierGuitar.com at the NAM show, and I must say; I was very impressed. I've been playing guitar for 26 years and have played in many situations where this technology would have been extremely useful, especially when there are temperature and/or humidity changes from one venue to the next, and your guitar just wont stay in tune. I may just pick one of these up and give it at try.

Patrick Roth
20th January, 2012 @ 09:08 am PST

Gibson had robo tuners out a couple of years ago!

Bradley Donaldson
20th January, 2012 @ 09:45 am PST

The robo tune actually tuned the guitar by adjusting the string tension. This is Just like Auto tune for people you cant sing may as well be a keyboard

Craig Mclaughlin
20th January, 2012 @ 03:16 pm PST

Music apps that do all the music for you, perfect pre recorded samples to use, vocals can be edited perfectly in Melodyne, soon no music talent or university education required to make music. An industry for pitch deaf tone deaf retards, backing vocalists will be blowup dolls with voice synths...

I suppose 'Air Guitarists' can now play in tune... LOL:)

The music industry has little or no integrity... sadly.

Paul Perkins
20th January, 2012 @ 11:28 pm PST

Take a look at the Evertune bridge(see below) It's an idea I had many years ago, and did not develop it. Unfortunately, Evertune did. Hey! That's my fault. It seems to be doing pretty well, and it certainly works. Electronic tuning does have a lot of advantages, i.e. for quick changes to open string tunings. It could combine with a midi pickup and play any synth sounds. I have a Casio midi guitar(don't laugh!) It is a very good instrument. It has a Strat type body, and plays as a guitar, a synth, or a combination of both.

windykites1
26th January, 2012 @ 12:31 pm PST

the price for the peavey was revealed in another interview at namm...$499. great idea. great for gigging, great to have as a guitar to base all your top guitars off of.

Tommy Lohrmann
27th January, 2012 @ 08:49 pm PST
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