If you fancy expanding your six-string sound beyond the reach of analog stomps, digital effects and power amps and into the world on sonic synthesis, there are a number of ways to go. You could create your own Frankenguitar hybrid like the Guitarduino
, or opt for less a less experimental approach by adding a special pickup to your existing axe, such as Roland's divided pickup
or the Tripleplay
from Fishman. Buying a new instrument with such technology already installed
is another option, but Boss has announced an analog-style synth floor unit called the SY-300 that's been designed to be used with any guitar pickup.
Last October, Gizmag grooved along to what has to be the world's most reliable drummer – the BeatBuddy
drum machine stomp. Next month, DigiTech will release a new guitar pedal called the Trio that crams a funky bass player into a pedalboard-friendly box alongside a virtual bin basher. The Band Creator pedal is reported capable of automatically generating bass and drum parts that match the rhythmic feel or chord progressions being belted out by the guitar player leading the power trio.
For the last few years, guitarist Andy Alt has been chipping away at a new kind of electric guitar pickup that allows a player to add a separate low end signal to the two lowest strings. A Little Thunder has been designed as a humbucker replacement and is reported to take only 5 minutes to install, without harming your precious guitar in the process. At the press of a button, git-fiddlers can bring a touch of funky bottom to a solo picking performance, making it a good fit for dark metal gods with hands too small for a 7 or 8 string shred machine or sonic scientists on the lookout for a new six-string laboratory for wacky riff-offs with the band's bass player.
For guitarists who like to experiment, digital signal processing technology has opened up whole new worlds of tonal exploration and control. Unlocking the parameters, effects and features in computer-based software while playing can be a cumbersome affair though, often involving some nifty tap dancing on multi-effects units like the G5
or stopping every so often to adjust the settings on a tabletop MIDI controller
. The Guitar Wing from Livid Instruments attaches to the instrument itself and offers wireless function control of software plug-ins, Digital Audio Workstations (DAW), iOS apps, MIDI effects and so on, all within reach of the picking hand and available while playing.
Kiwi Professor of Mechtronics Olaf Diegel has now added a set of drums and a keyboard to his catalog of beautiful 3D-printed instruments
. His new creations will join guitar and bass models for a road trip to Frankfurt's EuroMold event next month, where a band will take to the stage to play some live sets using the instruments.
While Peavey regularly releases electric guitars, like the excellent AT-200
for example, it's perhaps best known for its amplifiers. Five years after unleashing its Vypyr line of modeling amps, the company debuted three new additions at NAMM earlier this year. The first to sport a variable instrument input technology that allows them to be used for bass, acoustic or electric guitars, the Vypyr VIP amps are now shipping.
Back in July, we brought news of the rebirth of two VOX legends as travel guitars. Next month, the Apache Series
six-string models are joined by equally gorgeous bass guitar versions.
Guitarists who travel a lot and want to take an instrument along for the ride - but don't want to risk damaging that prized vintage Strat - might find themselves turning in the direction of a scaled down stand-in. Such solutions come in many different shapes and sizes - from full size instruments with parts that collapse (like Daniel Mapp's Jetson
travel guitar concept) to models with a shortened neck and small bodies (such as Martin's Backpacker
) to strange-looking beasts with tuners positioned in a hollowed out section of the body (like the Traveler's Speedster
). Bob Wiley's Ministar guitars, though, are essentially a bunch of necks with pickups. While there is a model with a shortened 19-inch scale neck, most of the odd-looking electric, acoustic and bass guitars sport full length necks and, says Wiley, play and sound just like the big brand models, but at a fraction of the price - and a fraction of the size.
After you've spent a considerable time learning to play guitar or bass, you're then likely to want to find an individual tone. For most of us, this involves the never-ending search for an instrument that fits our personality, or taking what we can afford and switching out the pickups or, if you're brave, more advanced rewiring. With the aptly-named Game Changer from Ernie Ball's Music Man wing, you can hang up the soldering iron for good and still get access to millions of tonal variations in one guitar or bass.
Street musicians or solo performers who want to add a virtual backing band but don't relish the prospect of sacrificing the feel of the music to overly digitized loopers or sequencers may be interested in the Kicktronic system from Flotechnic. If you stomp your foot rhythmically while playing, then you might as well put it to more efficient use by tapping the system's foot sensor to bring in a bass drum, snare drum, crash cymbal and bass.