The Fusion Guitar takes an iPhone dock, amplifier, battery and speakers and rolls them into one compact, completely self-contained noodling package. We caught up with one of the inventors, designer and guitarist Dave Auld, for a closer look at this world first take on the electric guitar.
One of the best sounding travel guitars we've tried is Yamaha's Silent Guitar, which offers a choice of modeled simulated tones or piezo-sourced sounds routed to headphones or an external amp. It doesn't have its own amp and speakers built-in though, like, say, a Vox Apache. And there's no Lineage-like smartphone integration to mix in some digital effects. In fact, you might struggle to find all three in one instrument. Unless you stumble across the Fusion Guitar from Melbourne, Australia-based designer and guitarist Dave Auld, which combines an iPhone dock, amplifier, battery and speakers in one futuristic-looking axe.
One of the most memorable moments in the 1972 film Deliverance is the banjo/guitar duel of Billy Redden and Ronny Cox. Musicians looking to add some of that plucky magic to their own compositions could nip out and buy a banjo and lock themselves away while learning to play. They may choose to follow the lead of Bow Thayer and create a new hybrid instrument. Or they could seek some digital emulation wizardry. After being unsatisfied with the latter, guitarist Jon Langberg came up with another way. The Guitar-Jo accessory gives an electric six-string an identity crisis by making it sound like a banjo.
If you run a lot of effects pedals, opening up hatches or unscrewing housings to replace 9 V batteries can be a bit of a chore, with many guitarists opting to build a pedalboard and juice up all of the stomps from one mains-supplied power pack instead. The 9 V Backpack from Züe Engineering allows a musician to quickly add battery power to a stomp without having to open up the casing.
After raising more than four times the project goal on Indiegogo, David Packouz began shipping his BeatBuddy drum machine in a stomp to backers in August last year. Gizmag got to call on the realistic-sounding and very responsive percussive skills of Singular Sound's virtual bin basher at commercial release time and we were mighty impressed. Now the company has announced a less expensive, and slightly less capable, version called the BeatBuddy Mini.
Some time around 1973, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, then members of British pop/rock group 10cc, invented a device for guitar and bass that brought a bowing sound to selected strings when a key or keys were pressed. The Gizmotron, or Gizmo for short, was famously used by Jimmy Page on the intro to In the Evening on Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door and went on to make its public debut at NAMM 1979. But it was not a commercial success due to its rather temperamental nature. Now over 40 years later, the Gizmo has been revised and revived, with version 2.0 due for release by the end of 2015.
Instrument interfaces like IK Multimedia's iRig or Apogee's Jam opened the door to an almost infinite world of real-time digitized tone on mobile devices running apps like GarageBand and AmpliTube. But, frustratingly, selecting a virtual stomp on a tablet screen still involves taking a playing hand away from the guitar to tap the screen. South Korea's Wifo Corporation is currently crowdfunding the RemoFinger, a foot controller that sits on the floor and can wirelessly activate onscreen stomp switches via surrogate "finger tips" attached to the tablet display.
You may not know of Dr. Harold Hildebrand, but you'll almost certainly have heard the results of his sonic tinkering. Introduced in the late 1990s, Auto-Tune went on to make performers who can't hold a note into international sensations, but has also given new vocal expression to artists who could already belt out a good tune. In 2011, Antares announced that it was bringing its pitch correction technology to the electric guitar and we got to play in perfect tune with the AT-200 in 2013. Now the company is aiming for broader adoption with the introduction of the ATG-1 Floor Processor.
Last October, guitarist Andy Alt shared his dream of giving six-string axes some extra bottom end with the crowdfunding community. Since the close of the successful campaign, he has made a few tweaks to A Little Thunder's design and functionality, chief among them being capacitive touch. Backers started receiving their pickups last month and now sales have opened up to everyone.
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.