Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Guitar

VOX Amplification has given new life to two 1960s iconic guitar bod shapes with the releas...

Sadly, the funding campaign for the Unlimited travel guitar with built-in speaker that we covered late last month was unsuccessful, but fear not because VOX Amplification has come to the rescue in impressive retro style. The company has dipped into the past to bring back two of its most iconic guitar shapes as modern travel/practice instruments. The beautiful VOX Teardrop and Phantom have been reborn as the Apache Series, each featuring two speakers, built-in effects and rhythm patterns, and the ability to jam along to favorite tunes via direct input from an external MP3 or CD player.  Read More

The Unlimited electric guitar has a built-in amplifier which can be fed digital effects fr...

Travel-friendly guitars like the Backpacker from Martin are all fine and dandy if you're into acoustic playing but those of us who prefer electric portability will likely need to seek out something like Traveler's Speedster or Bob Wiley's Ministar. The problem with the latter choice is also having to lug around an amp and cables in order to be heard. Stanford graduates Andrew Penrose and Ari Atkins have developed a go-anywhere electric guitar called the Unlimited that features a built-in, battery-powered amplifier and smartphone-controlled digital effects.  Read More

The Fretlight learning system uses LED lighting to show students finger placement on a gui...

I have to admit to a tinge of sadness as I report that both of the LED learning sleeve for guitar projects we featured back in April have so far failed to appear. Development of both projects is said to be continuing but Tabber withdrew its presence on Kickstarter after only two weeks to regroup and improve the product and the LED Sleeve didn't make its funding target. Fortunately, there is an existing system called Fretlight that uses lights embedded in the neck to show would-be players exactly when and where to place fingers on a fingerboard. The recent addition of the rather attractive FG-461 PRO electric guitar to the range offered the perfect opportunity to take a closer look.  Read More

Designing his own Ferrari SP12 EC was, to quote Clapton from the story, ‘one of the most s...

Ferrari has always set high standards for its customer interaction, and the latest press bulletin indicates it is continuing to explore new means of communicating with its customers, this time in the digital realm. "FERRARI BUILDS A UNIQUE SUPERCAR FOR ‘GOD’" was the headline. Blasphemy for some, but I knew who they meant. Eric Clapton. Developed from the Ferrari 458 Italia, Eric Clapton’s unique Ferrari SP12 EC was designed by the Centro Stile Ferrari in collaboration with Pininfarina and Ferrari’s engineers.  Read More

Strumming on the gTar looks to be just like playing the real thing

Learning to play any musical instrument can be a mammoth task, especially for those who aren't naturally gifted in that regard. The guitar is particularly difficult to learn to play, with a steep learning curve and some extraordinary finger dexterity required right from the start. Therefore, any tool designed to make the process less painful is welcomed with open arms by budding guitar gods. A company called Incident is hoping that will be the case for gTar, a new digital guitar that utilizes the power of the iPhone.  Read More

DigiTech has announced its fifth generation Whammy pitch shifting pedal, which introduces ...

Altering the tension of tuned strings through the influence of the tremolo or whammy bar on an electric guitar is an important part of any modern guitarist's trick bag. Early mechanical vibrato systems were notorious for throwing the instrument out of tune, and although huge improvements have been made over the years, intense or brutal use of some modern systems can still lead to problems. In 1989, DigiTech launched a pedal-based solution called the WH-1 Whammy, that offered players the same pitch altering capabilities of hardware systems, as well as additional harmony and detune effects, without any of the associated tuning hassles. Over 20 years later, and looking very much like the iconic original, the fifth version of the Whammy is currently being readied for release and brings something new to the party – the unique Chordal Pitch-Shifting.  Read More

On the anniversary of the Grateful Dead's famous 1977 Cornell show, Bonhams San Francisco ...

This year would have been the 70th birthday of Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, had not a heart attack ended his life at the age of 53. Last year, one of the great man's guitars – his Lucky 13 – was auctioned on eBay for charity, and next month memorabilia from the influential player's life will go under the hammer at Bonhams San Francisco on the anniversary of the band's famous 1977 Cornell show. Among original and rare works by Garcia, Deadheads will also find no less than three of his guitars – including the very Takamine acoustic seen on the cover of his Ragged But Right album, released almost 23 years after it was recorded.  Read More

Both Tabber (shown) and the LED Sleeve propose using lights to show guitar learners where ...

Guitar tablature is a powerful form of musical notation, where learners are shown where to place a finger on the neck of an instrument, and in what order. Such things as timing, note duration and playing force are not given, so unless a student knows or has access to a recorded version of the song being learned, the result may be somewhat different from what the composer intended. Usefully, such missing elements can be included in software like Guitar Pro to show users exactly how a song should be played. Two projects have now appeared on crowd-funding portal Kickstarter that take this idea and put it directly onto the guitar, so that learners won't need to keep switching views from screen to instrument. Tabber and the LED Sleeve guide players to the correct finger positions via LED lights on the neck.  Read More

Equipment, memorabilia, personal effects and instruments spanning the entire career of Les...

Mention the name Les Paul, and most people will think of Gibson's famous guitar and not the extraordinary person after which it was named. To mark what would have been the 97th birthday of the accomplished guitarist and visionary inventor born Lester Polsfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1915, Julien's Auctions will host an auction of some of Les Paul's personal estate. All proceeds from the sale will go to the Les Paul Foundation, a charity that encourages young people to pursue their curiosity and innovation about music, sound and engineering.  Read More

Contents of the box: the OPC, wired keyboard and mouse, power cables, Quick start guide an...

The first OPC from Orange Amps was made available in August 2010 and we've been closely following its development ever since. The bundled musician-related software has remained pretty much the same since launch but the musician's computer was given a serious hardware upgrade towards the close of 2011, and it's the new Core i7 system which I've been getting to know over the past few weeks. I've also managed to discuss some of the finer details with the driving force behind the OPC, and its lead developer, Charlie Cooper.  Read More

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