The best of 2014

Instrument

The custom graphics on the Indus guitar from France's Kompozit Guitars

Many veteran guitarists believe that great tone can only come from instruments made using exotic hardwoods. This hasn't stopped makers from trying other materials, though, including Ampeg's iconic Dan Armstrong-designed Plexiglas guitar, the all-metal Gittler Guitar, and the 3D-printed guitar from AweSome Musical Instruments. For its new line of hand-made, Tele-shaped axes, France's Kompozit Guitars has chosen to give polyester-based fiberglass a whirl.  Read More

Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way (Photo: ESA/ATG medialab; background image: ESO/S....

The Gaia mission to map a billion stars in the Milky Way has been delayed for about two months by the European Space Agency. Problems in X-band transponders used in other satellites have begun to appear, and the ESA has decided to replace those modules prior to launching. The likely blastoff date will be in late December of this year.  Read More

The Spine digital music instrument (Photo: Vanessa Yaremchuk)

For the last three years, a small research team at McGill University has been working with a choreographer, a composer, dancers and musicians on a project named Instrumented Bodies. Three groups of sensor-packed, internally-lit digital music controllers that attach to a dancer's costume have been developed, each capable of wirelessly triggering synthesized music as the performer moves around the stage. Sounds are produced by tapping or stroking transparent Ribs or Visors, or by twisting, turning or moving Spines. Though work on the project continues, the instruments have already been used in a performance piece called Les Gestes which toured Canada and Europe during March and April.  Read More

The C.24 is designed to bring physical keyboard interaction to the iPad

The potential for tablets as virtual musical creation devices has spawned a number of hardware add-ons aimed at bringing a new level of physical interaction to the table. Following this school of thought is the C.24 from Miselu: a Bluetooth-enabled, two octave wireless music keyboard for iPad that doubles as a cover.  Read More

The Instrument 1 from Artiphon

After tempting us with some candid studio shots last December, followed by some attention-grabbing showcasing at CES 2013 and NAMM, Artiphon has revealed that its Instrument 1 will shortly be available to buy. The professional-grade instrument leverages the processing power of a docked iPhone or iPod touch running digital music creation and recording apps, such as GarageBand or Animoog. It allows existing guitarists or piano players to use familiar playing styles in a new way, while ushering in a whole new wave of digital music noodlers.  Read More

The AWE-3DG 3D-printed guitar from AweSome Musical Instruments

Multi-tone performance pickup specialist AweSome Musical Instruments has unveiled what's claimed to be the first commercially available 3D-printed guitar made in the US. Touted as virtually impossible to break (though the same can't be said for the supplied light gauge strings), the Les Paul-style AWE-3DG also sports a bank of rather interesting pickup selectors that open the door to otherwise hidden coil combinations for up to 76 different analog tones.  Read More

Uni Sun, who performs as Omni Infinity, has launched a guitar-shaped digital controller/in...

After a fruitless search for a digital controller/instrument that would allow him to get closer to his audience, San Francisco digital music performer Omni Infinity decided to design and build his own. The guitar-shaped SPACEBASS:01 prototype can house a smartphone placed in the central "spaceport" for wireless touchscreen control of music and art software on a remote computer. There's another port above that can host a variety of third party MIDI modules, a button-packed 12-fret neck and a virtual whammy bar.  Read More

Technology start-up ROLI recently revealed the Seaboard GRAND, a piano-style keyboard that...

It's said that an instrument is only as good as the musician playing it, but it never hurts to give musicians a little help creating unique sounds. That's why technology start-up ROLI recently unveiled a new type of instrument that blends the form of a standard piano with the electronic customization of a digital controller. The company's Seaboard GRAND is a keyboard that features flexible keys that allow the player to adjust each note in real-time.  Read More

Ready for your next adventure, the Alpaca Guitar

While Bob Wiley's Ministar and the Apache Series from Vox are certainly travel-friendly guitars, they're not exactly adventure-proof. Chris Duncan's Alpaca Guitar, on the other hand, is precisely that. Described as a great sounding, go everywhere instrument, it's lightweight, durable and weather- and water-resistant.  Read More

Jon Jones & Sons and Antiquity Music have debuted an intriguing vintage-looking new instru...

As Jon Jones was regulating his hurdy gurdy back in 2001, he began toying with the idea of creating a mechanically-bowed instrument with a full-scale chromatic keyboard. He went on to build two working models before hooking up with Antiquity Music's founder Mitchell Manger to work on improving the design. After a few more revisions, a stunning pre-production Wheelharp was premiered at the Winter NAMM Show in Anaheim (CA) last week.  Read More

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