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back to article Guitar maker Gibson thrashes out more robo-axes

'Leccy guitar pioneer Gibson has unveiled two additional automated strummers in its self-tuning Robot line. gibson_robots_lespaul Gibson's Robot Les Paul Studio The Gibson Robot Les Paul Studio and Gibson Robot SG Special build on the success of the Limited Edition Gibson Robot Guitar, which was released late last year. The …

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Anonymous Coward

So, how much for a self-tuning piano?

And would it have 220 little motors, or would it be cheaper to have a little tuning robot that runs up and down on a rail listening to the strings and adjusting them?

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Coat

Ok so we are now...

only a few years away until we can get guitars that can play themselves.

Mines the one with the Motorhead logo on the back

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Won't be buying one...

I'd like to get my hands on one to test it out though. Digital tuners are nothing new, of course, but sticking them into the body of the guitar and linking them to the machine heads is. Or rather it was when they first did it a few months back. I'm sure the technology works, and works well, otherwise they wouldn't have done it. I'd like to see what difference, if any, the extra electronics in the body make to the sound of the instrument. I'd guess not much otherwise, again. they would likely shy away from it.

If they brought the SG out in cherry, like SGs should be, then I'd consider buying one but purple? Who the hell thought that was a good idea?

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Flame

Seriously - who buys these?

If you can afford to spend £1k+ on a guitar - surely you can tune it?

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Rob

I should think

a piano would actually be easier to do as the strings don't change pitch, it sounds like this guitar adjusts the tuning as you play it, which I'd be very interested in giving a go, I'm very intrigued as to how it sounds when you bend a note, what if you want a little 1/4 tone bend?

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Star Power?

Do they come with star power?

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Is this what you want?

I can understand having a guitar that is alwas in tune whenever you pick it up, but to correct the tuning of what you are playing?

How will it cope with bending a note, or slides, or playing with a bottleneck?

You might as well put it it through a post instrument DSP dynamic tuning corrector between the axe and the amp.

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Anonymous Coward

@ self tuning piano

Great idea - love the little tuning robot on a rail. Quick, patent it! Also, you could have a multi-purpose version that was a self-tuning piano and a large format inkjet printer. I think there would be tremendous demand...

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Maybe the extra weight of the tuning gizmos ...

.. will finally stop the the headstock making a dive for the floor everytime you let go of it. Nice sounding guitars, but dreadful physical balance.

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There's more to guitar tuning than standard tuning (E A D G B E)

There's more than one tuning for a guitar, the Robot can instantly change to a preset tuning (i.e an open chord, or a drop tuning), it can also tune the entire guitar to a reference note, and you can design your own presets. It's a great bit of tech.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guitar_tunings

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@Seriously - who buys these?

That's not overly expensive for an electric guitar. And it's pocket change compared to the cost of a nice acoustic or classical guitar.

And besides, it's not a question of being able to afford to tune it, it's a question of the removal of one of the biggest hassles of any stringed instrument. Keeping an instrument truly in tune is tough and they are never ready to play when you pick them up, always have to tune them first...

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Rob
Paris Hilton

£1k

£1k is about the starting price for a proper guitar

paris, she's sticking with a hohner rockwood

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Pirate

@Is this what you want?

It doesn't tune while you're playing. It's meant so you can quickly tune up between songs, etc.

The real benefit is to guitarists that use lots of tunings (e.g. standard, DADGAD, Open G etc.) on different songs.

The disadvantage is the extra weight of the motors changes the balance of the guitar. Not sure how stable the tuning would be - I always find it best to tune *up* to the correct pitch to balance the tension either side of the nut and bridge.

I say just buy more guitars for different tunings - you can never have too many, despite what the missus says!

(Skull as it's the most rock and roll)

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Coat

But does it...

Automatically adjust the truss rod to keep the action nice and low, but avoid buzzing the frets?

Mine the one with the Ibanez logo on the back

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Self-tuning piano?

Pianos tend to go out of tune over a longer time than guitars because the strings are hit, not plucked and because they tend to be left in one place most of the time, so are less exposed to changes in temperature and humidity.

I think it would be significantly cheaper to buy a digital piano with a weighted keyboard - no strings to tune with that.

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Stop

It doesn't constantly tune!

The guitar doesn't constantly tune - looking at the video on youtube you need to pull out a knob and strum once and off it goes. When it's done you push back in the knob and off you go. Hence bending notes etc. is not an issue. Don't know what you'd do mid song. But I'll just stick with my Patrick Eggles and the locking Sperzels thank you very much :)

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Continual tuning?

I doubt the tuning is continual, which would indeed cause the problems described by others. I expect they use some distinctly old-fashioned technology, known as the push button, to activate the facility on demand, in between riffs/songs/sets (depending on the "enthusiasm" of the player).

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Rob

tuning while playing

it seemed pretty bizarre to me for it to tune while you're playing it, but this bit seemed to indicate just that

"This ensures each string always hits the correct note – no matter how bad the guitarist’s playing is."

I've heard plenty of "guitarists" who can make their perfectly tuned guitars sound terrible, so this kind of mechanical autotune seemed to be the only way to guarantee a "correct" note, though that obviously depends what note they've fretted, and wont improve their timing, or intonation on another guitar, I think if it did do this it'd ultimately make you a far WORSE player,

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DR

balance

why should it change the balance?

I should envisage that in order to compensate for the motors, (which will likely be small stepper type motors with the blocks removed, which can be as light as a few grams) they will be using lighter weight machine heads.

using light weight machine heads and small motors would balance the thing perfectly. in anycase a little more mass on the headstock does improve sustain anyway.

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Cylon Guitar

...Use to be Nylon or Steel- now we can add Cylon!

I love it.

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£1K?

My Gibson S Special (non-robot) cost me less than £550 ......

And there aint nothing not proper about an SG ......

£1800 seems a hell of a premium for self-tuning

p.s - Cherry's very nice but black is best.......

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changing strings

If it isn't continual then it still doesn't get round the issue of constantly having to retune when you change strings. Also what happens about keeping the motors accurate? I can't see those still working on a 50 year old instrument.

And for the record, those colours look vile.

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Pat
Alien

Guitar Robotic Tuner - No! Muppets! Not more extraneous noises to dial out on mix down?

April Fool this - surely ought to be!

30 years playing guitar and still don't need this foolishness. For £2K could buy a couple of ESP with EMG active pick ups or some great second hand Jap telecasters and a Takamine EN10C accoustic...

Yeah and how many guitarists does it take to change a light bulb - still 1 and 99 to tell you how good the old one was.

A £50 tuner and your palm digits (hand with opposing thumb add-on) will do the job nicely.

Peace out.

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Coat

Heh, cheaper than real work

Either make the guitar correctly, or have cheap electronics correct the shit intonation from modern SGs on the fly. Eventually you'll be able to bash out Mexican/Korean messes with the bridge and neck attached by just throwing them, and it'll still correct.

Mine's the one with "Kramer" on the back in aluminium studs...

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Coat

Locking Sperzels

Christ, mate- that sounds painful.

Hope they're better soon.

Mine's the one with the "Best of the Goons" in the pocket.

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Rob

sg

"Recent models of the Gibson SG Special represent a value oriented model in their product line-up. Typically, it does not include the stylized neck binding of other models, or mother-of-pearl, trapezoid fret inlays. The wraparound stoptail bridge has been replaced with Gibson's standard Tune-O-Matic arrangement on the Classic and Special reissues, while the reissue of the Junior retains the original one-piece bridge."

There isn't anything 'not proper' about an 'sg' ? what about an epiphone sg? yeah the pickups in that are gonna be hot as hell!! (perhaps when the wiring goes wrong?) Just because a guitar is a particular shape or is a 'strat' or an 'sg' or a 'les paul' doesn't mean anything, the more you pay, the better it is

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"what happens about keeping the motors accurate?"

Not an issue, so long as there's feedback - please excuse the pun. Think of it like a thermostat - it doesn't matter what the exact heat output of your boiler is, so long as the feedback loop allows it to turn off when the target temperature has been reached. Let's face it, we've tuned guitars by hand for years, and our hands aren't calibrated.

Of course, if the motors completely break, you're back to manual tuning.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm..

A guitar made with good quality hardware shouldn't have to worry about going out of tune. My Ibanez hasn't needed tuning in weeks and it's played every day.

If you're going to drop £2k on a guitar so you can play in different tunings on stage, then you'd have to question why you don't have multiple guitars each tuned differently.

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Alien

Self tuning guitar?

Yea,

Thanks, but I can tune my $400 Ibanez RG just fine. As a matter of fact, since my guitar utilizes the double locking Floyd Rose system, on the rare occasion during the changing of weather seasons when it slightly goes out of pitch, I can re-tune it easily. I tune by ear perfectly and have never even used a digital tuner. This is the biggest rip off in the music world. Gibson already sells the most expensive guitars on earth, rarely played by players in my genre (Heavy Metal). Leave these things to the no-talent "guitar hero" wankers out there. Anyone who can't tune their own guitar or keep it in tune shouldn't be playing one.

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Cyborg toy?

I don't think so.

"Demand is high"? I guess all the wannabee guitarists who play everything but hard rock/heavy metal can't keep their guitars in tune and have more money than sense, so they need one of these. I doubt seriously that Zakk Wylde has trouble keeping his custom shop Les Pauls in tune. My Ibanez remains in tune after the bridge and nut are locked and I use my Tremolo often. If your stop tail bridge equipped Gibson won't stay in tune, you need to drop it off at a guitar repair shop. Any player who can't tune their guitar without the help of a robot should quit playing!!!

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Flame

Waiting for the Jimi Hendrix signature model... (and @Pat re: guitarists vs lightbulbs)

... that not only tunes itself up before each song, but also sets itself on fire and smashes itself to bits at the end of your set!

@Pat:

"and how many guitarists does it take to change a light bulb - still 1 and 99 to tell you how good the old one was."

Nah, that's country and western singers. It takes ten guitarists to change a lightbulb - one to do it, and ten to stand around going "I could have done that."

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Do all the negative posters understand what this means?

Your guitar is in standard tuning. Hit a switch, 2 seconds later its in Drop D, switch it again, 2 seconds later its in Open A, or a modal tuning like Dsus4, switch again and you are tuned to C, 2 steps down, etc. etc.

Play a note or a string, or tune a single string to the pitch you want, hit the switch and 2 seconds later the guitar has tuned all 6 strings to it .

I'd like to see someone change tunings on the fly with a Floyd Rose. You know, rather than spending ages with a battery jammed under the bridge, the back open and fiddling about with spring tension v string tension.

If you play live, and not all your songs are in same tuning, you can change your tuning of your guitar in the time taken to announce the next song.

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Anonymous Coward

As a Gibson owner,

I just want one that stays in tune. My Les Paul special certainly doesn't, even with high-quality replacement tuning hardware.

As for changing tunings on the fly, that can be done with post-processing if your guitar has separate outputs for each string. Plus you can change the timbre of each string. I have a friend whose entire act is built around this technique, and that plus his amazing chops pretty much blows away audiences.

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Boffin

Whiz - bang - thud

It's one of those good idea/bad idea things. Yes, it takes away a little musicianship.....but it helps folks like me (no, I don't plan on one) who never had a truly good ear and am suffering some hearing loss.

Besides synt guitars have been around 30+ years...this was a question of time and inclination.

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Rob

Synth

Yeah, if you need to change tunings something along the lines of a VG8 and MIDI pickup are the way to go, then you can change tunings at the press of a pedal, with no waiting for strings to be re-tuned, no chance of them breaking through doing so and no differences in string tension (ever tuned a set of .8's down to drop c/b??, it doesn't work...)

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The signal goes down the string?

Is this correct - the signal from the pitch analyser thingy travels down the string to the tuning motors? Using standard strings? I'd have thought the signal would travel down the neck.

The auto-tuning concept is great, especially on a Les Paul. The ones I've used have been bad at holding their tuning, so much so that I now play a good old reliable Telecaster (sorry, Gibson fans!). This new design would tempt me back if I could afford it.

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Gates Horns

one way to stop it tuning

I just don't think the thing would work as well once its been belted through a few drum kits, hammered over a couple of monitors and jumped on.

And lets face it, "unsmashed guitars just don't sound as good as their smashed brethren!"

The devil knows how to rock!!!

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Additional info...

Although it's not mentioned in the article, Gibson is actually just the distributor for this system. It was actually developed by a German company Tronical (http://www.tronical.com) as the PowerTune system which is designed to be a retrofit to *any* guitar. Gibson secured the worldwide distribution rights in early '07. The system is actually capable of doing several different tunings (not just standard), however, you can't tune and play at the same time (you need to strum the open strings, press a button then wait a couple of seconds for the instrument to retune).

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Variax

Some thoughts:

1. I've got a Variax. It was £350 and you can use the Workbench software in it to set up any tuning that you like, instantly, and store up to 10 presets. While it's not a 'real' guitar, it works brilliantly in a gigging situation and sounds really great about 85% of the time. Which is better than most modern Gibsons.

2. Who plays in a band that tunes to the guitar? Most bands tune to the keyboard.

3. This Robot thing, if you use it to constantly retune to alt tunings, sounds like an invitation to break strings.

4. Being absolutely in tune is really overrated. Chuck Berry reputedly detunes all his strings. And I play banjo quite a lot. It actually sounds better when it goes a little out of tune.

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Coat

Purple Riff Eater

It seems Gibson still likes to crank out SGs with the awful full face scratch plate, instead of mounting the p'ups directly to the body like the '61 vintage model. Even in purple it reminds me of the awful Kyle I started playing on back in '75.

Mine is the Carvin windbreaker.

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