2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Guitar

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

The Alfa Romeo guitar from Harrison Custom Guitar Works

In the unlikely event that Alfa Romeo takes its Marshall MiTo concept car into production, you might find yourself looking for a guitar to plug into the JVM205H head at the back that matches its rock pedigree. A guitar like this eye-catching build from Harrison Custom Guitar Works perhaps.  Read More

The B9 Organ Machine from EHX

New York's EHX (electro-harmonix) has designed an effects pedal that allows guitarists to dial in classic tonewheel and combo organ sounds from the 1960s and 70s without having to worry about trudging through multiple MIDI parameters or having to route a signal through a special synth pickup to a computer before it gets to the amp. The B9 Organ Machine offers nine presets with either chorus, tremolo or vibrato effects, a percussive "key" click control and knobs to determine the mix of dry signal and organ preset at the output jack.  Read More

Don Bacon's Finger Friendly Guitar Company Keyboard

Like many would-be six-string slingers, Don Bacon of Denver, Colorado, found getting started tougher than it looked. The discomfort experienced when pushing soft finger ends onto hard metal strings can certainly be off-putting, but there's also the issue of chunky digits accidentally muting nearby strings, or causing them to buzz, when trying to form chord patterns or sound individual strings. Bacon designed a soft-touch overlay called the Finger Friendly Guitar Company Keyboard – let's call it the FFK – to help make learning to play as painless and as easy as possible, with the added bonus of sounding good while you're doing it.  Read More

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

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