Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Guitar

The BeatBuddy with its footswitch (Photo: Paul Ridden/Gizmag)

When musician David Packouz couldn't find a stomp-based drum machine that didn't sound, well, like a drum machine or one that could provide fills, changes and accent hits on the fly, he set about designing and building his own. He took his BeatBuddy project to Indiegogo in December 2013 and it went on to raise more than four times its funding goal by the close of the crowdfunding campaign. The first post-crowdfunding production run started shipping at the end of August and Gizmag was offered a system for review. But with my attention focused elsewhere during September (namely the IFA and Photokina trade shows), I had to hold off until mid-October to start spending some quality time with this nifty drummer-in-a-box pedal. And it was definitely worth the wait.  Read More

The DNone next generation guitar travel case

For a prized, and likely very expensive, instrument, touring can be fraught with danger. Threats from knocks, bumps and scrapes lurk menacingly at every turn so investing in some form of protection is vital, but not all hard cases are made equal. After noting stagnation in guitar case technology, Timbre Cases founder Peter McMath set about designing the next generation of instrument travel protection. It's taken two years of R&D, but the company is now readying its tough dreadnought-shaped DNone case for release, which features a shock absorbent, water-resistant outer shell, humidity control and recessed wheels.  Read More

iRig HD and AmpliTube begin Android invasion

IK Multimedia has announced that its iRig HD guitar interface is breaking free of its iOS/Mac chains and moving into Android territory. Following hot on the heels of Samsung's Pro-Audio SDK 2.0 platform release, IK has now revealed the Android-friendly iRig HD-A and a special version of its AmpliTube virtual rig app.  Read More

The Expressiv MIDI Guitar system from RORGuitars

Keyboard players, digital drummers and DJs have been dipping into synthesized sonic magic for a long time, but until quite recently, electric guitarists have been left a little wanting. A good example of the progress being made is Fishman's TriplePlay wireless MIDI system. Rather than rely on an externally-mounted hexaphonic pickup of the kind found in TriplePlay, though, Ireland's Rob O'Reilly uses smart fretboard scanning technology for his Expressiv MIDI Guitar System. As well as promising zero latency when in MIDI mode, the instrument also sports "normal" pickups so players can chop and change between analog and digital sounds at the flick of a switch.  Read More

A Little Thunder from Andy Alt

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.  Read More

The ToneWoodAmp from Ofer and Helene Webman

Acoustic players looking to augment the natural sound of their guitars with live effects may well have to succumb to a world of cables, amps and stomps to do so. Ofer and Helene Webman out of Phoenix, AZ, have developed a smartphone-sized box called the ToneWoodAmp – or Twamp for short – that brings the kind of effects enjoyed by electric guitarists to acoustic pickers without needing to route the instrument through a big power amp.  Read More

The Sunrise 3D-printed guitar is one of three stock models available from Customuse

Whether you're new to the guitar or a seasoned git-fiddler, chances are that the shape, color and hardware of your go-to axe have been determined by the company that produces it. The cost of having an instrument made to your exact specifications can cause the heart to skip more than a few beats, and the bank manager to question your sanity. 3D printing technology has the potential to help create your dream guitar for a fraction of the cost of a Custom Shop model, and that's precisely what's on offer from the UK's Customuse. With three stock designs already available, the company will shortly open a browser-based platform for full customization.  Read More

The Doyle Coils Tru-Clones PAF 57 humbuckers

When guitar virtuoso and tech innovator Les Paul died five years ago, one of his last projects was an attempt to create high impedance humbuckers that matched the clear, dynamic sparkle of his beloved low impedance pickups. Sadly, the Reaper took the Master before his endless experiments hit pay dirt. But his collaborator and guitar tech for over four decades has picked through Les Paul's numerous experimental models and prototypes, his extensive notes and hotchpotch of parts and joined the dots to realize his friend and mentor's dream and create the Tru-Clones PAF 57 humbucker.  Read More

The servos are controlled by a cabled foot pedal via an Arduino running custom code

Though mostly associated with country music, there's a pretty good chance that you've heard the sweet singing tones of a lap steel guitar in whatever modern genre floats your boat. OK, maybe not techno or electronica, but certainly blues, rock, jazz and folk music. Rather than gently stroke the six to ten high action strings of an electric lap steel with a glass or metal bar though, Dean Miller opted to recreate the sound using four servos controlled by a modified foot pedal array and an Arduino running some custom code. The result is pretty astounding.  Read More

The Hammer Jammer installed on an electric guitar

With what's got to be one of the shortest campaign pitches on Kickstarter, Ken McCaw is putting second production run hopes for his Hammer Jammer percussive guitar attachment in the hands of players. Described as essentially turning the guitar into a new instrument, the fretting hand is still used to form chord shapes or single-note runs. But players tap, stroke or bash the big raised "buttons" at the picking end, causing soft or hard hammers to sound the strings.  Read More

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