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Gibson digital HD.6X-PRO Les Paul


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It is that time of year again, and like elves, Bigfoot, and tax cuts, the mythical Gibson Digital Les Paul has again raised its ugly head.

 

Those of you who have been around a while may remember that I wrote about this beast several years ago, after seeing prototypes at an AES in NYC. At that time the instrument was a simple stock Les Paul in several finishes, with an ethernet connector in place of the quarter inch jack. Yeah, that would last about as long as a drunken 19 year old virgin backstage at a Zakk Wylde concert. No one there was able to intelligently explain to me just what the guitar was going to DO, but "the possibilities ware endless..." not anything that I needed or wanted,but that is beside the point. As it turned out, Gibson had no idea what the thing should do, they just wanted to release a digital product and seemed assured that the other manufacturers would create products that would make the digital Les Paul a desirable instrument. Of course, that did not happen.

 

Several press releases, several trade shows lots of smoke, no fire. A few changes... Switchcraft came out with an ethernet connector mounted in an XLR housing, and Gibson incorporated it into the design. A quarter inch jack appeared on the prototypes for those unenlightened who insisted on wanting to play their Les Pauls in a traditional manner. But it did not matter... none of these guitars was functional, other than as traditional guitars. And there was no third party support.

 

One NAMM show in Nashville, Gibson did not een bother to trot out the guitars, they just set up a table with a couple of reps to promote the technology, hoping to interest some other manufacturer into creating a product that would use their technology. I spoke to the reps, but they seemed equally clueless as to the need or necessityof their product. In my mind, this is a critical issue.... if I don't see a need for your product, why would I buy it?

 

In case anyone thinks that I am making this up, when I querried the reps, the answer I got was that I could digitally control my processors and amplifier from the guitar. Understand that the guitar only has the standard pickup switch, 2 volume and 2 tone knobs. So I ask you, imagining that I'm going to grow another hand to operate the controls for the amp and processor from the guitar, where are the controls? And why is this better than the standard foot controls that we have been using since the 1950s? When I asked for a copy fo the technical documents so that I could examine them and try to discover a real use for the technology, I was told that they only had one copy. Ooooookkkkayyyyyyy.....

 

I went in willing to be convinced. What they convinced me of was that they had no clue. Maybe Gibson just did not field trade show people who understood guitars and guitar players. Perhaps the innovators of the tecdhnpology really do have a plan. I've spent several years trying to find someone who could articulate that plan, with no success.

 

Now the digital Les Paul is being advertised by Sweetwater, so I guess it is past the prototype stage. But the sales pitch is equally vague. What has Gibson done?

 

Well, as I said before the ethernet jack is much more robust. They have added a headphone jack and volume control (arguably a handy thing... what powers it, and where is the battery cavity? Or does the ethernet jack have to be plugged into a product that supplies power to the guitar before the headphone jack will work?) There is a 1/8th inch mic input jack...not that I have any mics with 1/8th inch jacks... and there are 'six small patent pending humbucking pickups'. To what end? They aren't sure. The recomendation... that you can send every other string to one amp, and the opposite strings to another with a different sound, seems of questionable value to me, but hey, there are artists out there who will undoubtedly be able to use such a feature. The vast majority of us?..... or we can send each string to its own processing and amp... six amps, six different multieffects processors.... am I the only one who finds this to be impractical?

 

more importantly, there are still no additional controls on the instrument short of the headphone volume control. Hmmm...

 

at least now they are providing a breakout box. One can only imagne what it does, or even what it looks like.... you have to, as there are no pictures and only a vague description. Dies it come with the guitar, or is it a seperate cost product? Are there options? What about DAC? I mean, mid-level 96k 24 bit digital conversion cost about $375 a channel, making the conversion from digital to analog alone to be about $2250, using standard formats of audio....oh, and this guitar claims much higher resolution than that.

 

And now they are throwing in a copy of Cakewalk SONAR Producer to sweetend the deal. Why? Who knows. I suspect that anyone doing enough digital work to support buying this instrument has already amde their choice of digital recording software.

 

By the way, there are three pictures of the guitar in the Sweetwater flyer in which you can see the output panel. The front page picture output panel does not appear to contain anything other than the ethernet and quarter inch jack.

 

I've always advised against buying version one of anything relating to audio or computers. I've been hoping that someone would make this heretofore mythical guitar into a real, functioning instrument with exciting features. Not yet. Wait for version two.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Originally posted by Guitar Geezer:

I have great respect for Gibson, ...

My.02 ;)

The guitars that I play have mostly always been Gibsons. I own a small pile of Gibsons, two of which are in my avatar. Not a knock on Gibson guitars at all... just this half-thought out product. Line6 gives me solutions. Roland gives me solutions. This just leaves me with questions.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Actually, although I don't remember if it was the Sweetwater catalog, the pages I saw displayed the breakout box. Not much to look at and I think the technology is still grossly under-developed due to lack of interest beyond Gibson, but it has the potential for many uses.

 

Unfortunately, none of those uses will come to fruition without developer/cross-manufacturing support. As far as I've seen, Gibson doesn't promote that well with this technology. Too bad.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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Originally posted by fantasticsound:

..., none of those uses will come to fruition without developer/cross-manufacturing support. As far as I've seen, Gibson doesn't promote that well with this technology. Too bad.

They do show up at the trade shows, and apparently they have been trying to get some development partners from the visual indications, but for whatever reason they do not seem to be getting any interest. We (well, most of us anyway :) ) can't see behind the scenes, so we do not know what the underlying politics might be.

 

Bill

"I believe that entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you're an idiot."

 

Steve Martin

 

Show business: we're all here because we're not all there.

 

 

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Even from inside I couldn't see the underlying politics other than that Henry was determined to make his network protocol an industry standard for duplex transmission of multi-channel audio, video and control data. But everything was so hush-hush and Gibson Labs is across the country, so it wasn't like I'd run into Gibson Labs staff at lunch and shoot the breeze on where they were headed or what they were doing. At that time I believe they'd already had some success selling the protocol to medical equipment manufacturers, but I don't know how much of that was wishful thinking and how much was hard reality. Henry's dual goal was to make the protocol as useful for critical life-support and other medical gear as for real-time audio applications.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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So this thing isn't even compatable with the Roland 13 pin stuff? (VG88, synths, etc?) At least Fender has their Roland-Ready Strat, although they don't seem to put a lot of advertising in it.

Another usless innovation from Gibson.

"Who's gonna teach the children about Chuck Berry?"
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Originally posted by marvar:

So this thing isn't even compatable with the Roland 13 pin stuff? (VG88, synths, etc?) At least Fender has their Roland-Ready Strat, although they don't seem to put a lot of advertising in it.

Another usless innovation from Gibson.

It's not the same technology. The Roland 13 pin stuff, as you call it, is simply 6 analog outputs and a control channel or two. Great for what it was designed for, and they even managed to make great use of the hex output in modeling setups (something that wasn't possible for 25 years after the first Roland synth guitars) that it wasn't designed for.

 

The Gibson technology has been dumbed down to less than the Roland Synth p'up system, but it has the potential to do a lot more. (I say less because, to my knowledge, there are no data control options available on the guitar at present. That, IMO, is a big mistake, especially for such an expensive instrument.

It's easiest to find me on Facebook. Neil Bergman

 

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