Photokina 2014 highlights

Guitar

Fender has launched its first ever multi-effects unit - the Mustang Floor

We've been treated to a number of Fender stomp boxes over the years - like the classic Fender Blender and BOSS collaborations like the '65 Deluxe Reverb - but the iconic manufacturer has never gathered all its tone tweaking know-how into one big bundle ... until now. The new Mustang Floor brings together dozens of effects, amp modeling and computer interaction into one rather attractive multi-effects unit.  Read More

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

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.  Read More

It's been a good year for musical instrument innovation - we take a quick look back at som...

The closing of the year is a great time to reflect on recent events. Regular readers will already know that musical instrument development is a bit of a passion of mine, and 2011 has been a great year for innovation. Join me, if you will, for a quick retrospective look at some of the tech we've been treated to during the last 12 months, ending with a recent take on an old classic - the Crap-o-Caster.  Read More

The guitar-shaped Tabstrummer programmable MIDI controller allows users to create and regi...

Electronics enthusiast Miroslaw Sowa and programmer Vsevolod Zagainov - both from Montreal, Canada - are currently busy putting the final touches on a new button-based, guitar-shaped sound machine called the Tabstrummer. In the same way that tablature notation has allowed players like me (who are unable to read score) to learn new songs, this new MIDI instrument allows folks who'd like to play a guitar, but for whatever reason can't, the opportunity to easily create some chord-strumming music. The instrument allows chord shapes to be assigned to clicky buttons on the short neck, which can then be recalled and played as a song by simultaneously strumming or picking the virtual strings.  Read More

Bob Wiley's Ministar dispenses with the traditional guitar body, which adds little or noth...

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.  Read More

A hands-on review of the Kitara digital guitar synthesizer

Way back in January 2010, a short demo video of a new digital instrument prototype was posted on YouTube by its creator Michael Zarimis, and went viral. From the millions of views, a list of prospective buyers was drawn up and the Misa Digital Guitar soon began its journey towards commercial availability. By the time the next CES show arrived, the instrument had ditched its gleaming white ABS plastic casing and gone over to the dark side, received a few design modifications, and been officially named Kitara for its public debut. The Kitara has now been made available for purchase, and I've spent the last few weeks getting to grips with this innovative new instrument - being rewarded for inventive experimentation and punished for bad playing technique.  Read More

The Di Donato guitar is hand-crafted in aluminum alloy and tonewoods and features custom p...

Whether it's cars, clothing or - in this case - guitars, there's something instantly appealing about Italian design. Combining the well-known tonal properties of aluminum and hardwoods like mahogany and rosewood, the hand-crafted Di Donato guitar is the brainchild of Edoardo DiDonato, who has applied traditional luthier skills used to craft violins, violas and cellos to create an instrument that is both modern and classic at the same time.  Read More

Starr Labs is developing a new iPad dock that uses the power and versatility of Apple's ta...

The phenomenal success of music-related mobile apps has forced many of us old timers to have a good rethink about the way we make music in the 21st Century. For many musicians - including The Gorillaz and Bjork - Apple's iPad is taking center stage in the production of modern music. Digital instrument innovator Harvey Starr is also looking at the iconic tablet as a way of giving more people the chance to experience the power of Starr Labs' custom-built electronic guitars at a fraction of the cost. Pairing the iPad with his company's button-based electronic guitar fingerboard, Starr is developing a new hybrid monster called the iTar.  Read More

String Stretcha is a tool to consistently and evenly stretch and settle new guitar strings...

Stretching guitar strings using finger and thumb can be a very fiddly pain in the behind. String Stretcha makes the process a lot less random and a whole lot easier. Made from a crush-resistant epoxy material, the ergonomically-shaped tool features a grooved hook and heel which grip the string between them and allow the player/tech to give the strings a proper and consistent stretch in about five minutes.  Read More

The Kelstone 9-string instrument can be played using both hands, like a piano

It has the look of a lap steel and can certainly be used for playing slide guitar compositions but the relatively low action on the Kelstone 9-string guitar opens up many more opportunities over its 26 frets. Developed by Belgium's Jan Van Kelst, players can strum, pick, hammer-on and pull-off, slide, bend, use both hands like a piano player - or combinations of all such techniques.  Read More

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