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The future of guitar design


harvey

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Okay guitar people,

 

The recent flaming of the new Gibson Firebird X (including my own) got me thinking.

 

So much cool stuff was done by 1958: teles, strats, LPs, explorers, flying Vs etc. OK, the Moderne as well!

 

Two questions for the forum:

 

1/ What relatively recent electric guitar designs (ie less than 50 years!) are worthy of iconic status.

 

2/ What is left to do? Any revolutionary ideas out there, peeps?! What would you really want to see on an electric guitar in terms of design or features etc?

 

 

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1. Less than 50 years old? Those old Vox teardrop designed axes might qualify. Or maybe the "headless" guitars that popped up in the '80's?

 

2. Seeing how we now have proccessors of minute size in our computers, and computer functions pared down where most much smaller laptops can replace the old desktop PC, why not use some of that tiny technology to install effects inside the guitar body that can be accessed with the push of a button? You might even find a way to use memory card sized components to load in specific features. Someone who knows this area of electronic technology could maybe explain it better than me. Anyway, it would possibly do away with the spaggetti-wiring effects box clutter around a player's feet.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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I think the question of "iconic status" is a bit beside the point.

That's something that accrues to an istrument by virtue of general recognition as an item but is regardless of quality.

Check Fang above. Vox gtrs were/are iconic but maybe not great instruments.

Britney/Broccoli Spears is iconic but so what ?

I don't think visual design is really gonna have much to do with making a better gtr.

 

The Moog gtr as well as the self-tuning Les Pauls of a few years back seem worthy ideas & so do the innovations of the 70s & later in terms of greater development of electronics.

The Variax series fits here, too.

Also I'd mention various intonation developments: fanned frets & the Feiten system (others?).

 

A few years abck someone introduced a supposedly more ergonomic gtr with a twisted neck for greater fretting hand comfort.

Were they better ?

I don't know but I bet tweaking the truss rod was hincty!

 

Personally. however, all I really wanrt from a gtr is ease of playing, good tone & reasonable pitch accuracy, all of which are available & have been for a while.

 

I would like to have a gtr that did something like those Fretlight things, y'know, flash lights along the neck, etc. :laugh:

Audiences love anything bright & shiny.

 

 

d=halfnote
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I think the great designs for the guitar have been made. Unless you consider adding gizmos as a new design... I think of a guitar kinda like a violin in that the design was perfected a long, long time ago. There might be a few innovations that have been missed and will be significant or even amazing when they appear, but a hundred or more years from now, people will be marveling and paying incredible prices for the old beaters we have laying around as backup guitars... not to mention the "Stradivarius" quality axes that some of us are lucky enough to own.

Just my meandering thoughts... :blah:

SEHpicker

SEHpicker

 

The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it." George Orwell

 

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Steinberger's 'headless' guitars, the Parker Fly series, & the Moog guitar all get a yes. PRS gets a 'yes' for breaking through the Fender/Gibson stranglehold on the guitar market. The Variax gets a 'maybe' becuase it's less a guitar innovation than it is a controller/interface. The Gibson Robot Guitars get a big 'NO'; it's more of a gimmick than an innovation.

 

The Gittler Guitar deserves a mention, even though it never really broke into the market.

 

Also, while I'm a fan of synth-ready guitars, and Sustainer pickups, you can retrofit nearly any steel-string guitar with one or both of those features, without actually re-inventing the guitar.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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The revolutionary stuff keeps getting rolled under the neo-traditionalist stuff.

 

Roland Guitar Synths

Steinberger

Variax

Chapman Stick

Floyd Rose

etc. Have come and gone. It Cycles...

 

I want a guitar that will allow me to come up with any tone by reading my mind in real time. I will not be surprised if I see it before my time passes. Imagine if imagination is all you needed!

 

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As far as visual appearances I think that's more of a fashion trend. When I was a kid the flying V was cool because it looked different; however, to older folks it was ridiculous because it didn't look like an LP or Strat. Ergonomically you have the whole "how can you play this while seated without a strap?" thing going against it. But somehow it has managed to become more or less a mainstream design.

 

No love for Yamaha's silent guitar?

http://www.guitarflame.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/01/yamaha-silent-guitar.jpg

 

If you want to go with a gimmick then look for the "green" guitar. Made of 100% recycled materials, this thing will be made of anything but tone woods. No worries about scarce fretboard woods, either.

 

Along the lines of what Whitefang mentioned regarding computers and such, I have been saying for over a year now that guitars will start being produced with builtin USB and/or FireWire ports. Essentially a "digital" guitar. Who would want that? Well, you can plug into your DAW with just a USB cable. Next the amp manufacturers follow suit with digital inputs. Plug your USB Strat into your USB Bassman; look ma, no annoying buzzing or radio stations because we're digital now! Pretty soon that ancient analog phono jack will become obsolete.

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I want a guitar that will allow me to come up with any tone by reading my mind in real time... Imagine if imagination is all you needed!

 

I think there was someone who advertised for a while in several music mags (incl. GP & KB) a system that offered some sorta mental MIDI thing...

...anywhat, the ideas of almost instantaneous options of sound per gtrs or amps have already arrived.

 

I have to admit that "Imagine if imagination is all you needed" is one of the best sentences/lines I have ever read !!!!

d=halfnote
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I want a guitar that will allow me to come up with any tone by reading my mind in real time... Imagine if imagination is all you needed!

 

I think there was someone who advertised for a while in several music mags (incl. GP & KB) a system that offered some dorta mental MIDI thing...

...anywhat, the ideas of almost instantaneous options of sound per gtrs or amps have already arrived.

 

I have to admit that "Imagine if imagination is all you needed" is one of the best sentences/lines I have ever read !!!!

 

Thanks. My Girlfriend insists I'm "full of it"

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It's cool that people are trying to push the envelope. They might actually come up with improvements to existing designs. I always thought Fender made a laudable attempt to correct the inherent problems with Strats in the Strat Plus. The only problem was the end result didn't really sound like a Strat, although I think that was mostly about the Lace Sensors. But locking tuners and a roller nut dealt with the slack storage issue that kept Strats from staying in tune, and the Trem-Setter always brought the bridge back to where it started.

 

The thing is, whenever rally substantial improvements and innovative changes are made, what seems to happen is a new instrument is invented. Electric guitars were made to increase the volume of guitars, but the electric guitar not only doesn't sound like an acoustic, the technique of playing one is very different from an acoustic. So what you really have is a new and different instrument.

 

Piezo p/ups sound more like an acoustic, but not really the same, and being able to add effects to the signal chain makes quite a difference in both tone and playing technique, as well as the way they are amplified. So, you have another new instrument, sort of, especially if you have a hybrid like a Parker Fly or other guitar with both magnetic and piezo p/ups.

 

The Moog Guitar, and other guitar synths all necessitate(make possible?) new techniques and different ways of amplifying them, and I think it's obvious those are new and different instruments.

 

What I'd like to see is less about new designs and innovations in the instrument, and more about somebody actually taking the new instruments we already have, things like guitar synths and hybrid guitars, and coming up with new approaches that explore the possibilities exclusively inherent in them.

 

People like Metheny, DiMeola & McLaughlin kinda went that way with the Synclavier system. But it was so bloody expensive that only guys like them could afford it. And, I think they figured out that they were ceasing to be guitarists, which is a danger when you start down that road.

 

What I hear most folks doing with guitar synths and whatnot these days is trying to emulate keyboards, acoustic guitars, etc, and I think that's a waste of the potential I believe lies in those instruments. What I'm looking for is somebody who develops playing techniques in them as different as those of electric and acoustic guitars.

Always remember that you�re unique. Just like everyone else.

 

 

 

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As a guitar synth guy, I had to respond. Yes, playing through a Moog guitar, or a MIDI guitar requires some adjustment in technique, but the same would be true if you hand a Shredder's 7-string axe to a Bluegrass flatpicker.

 

While I don't see the point in using a guitar synth to make my solidbody sound like a nylon-string guitar, or a poor imitation of a keyboard player, using a combination of synthesis and signal processing allows me to get things out of my guitar that would be impossible otherwise - stacked polychords, triggered samples & loops, live backing tracks, and more. You could make the argument that I'm really playing some sort of hybrid system, as opposed to good old electric guitar, and I admit it, but the heart of the system is still a mahogany plank with HB's, and it still feels like a guitar in my hands - it is a guitar, it's just more.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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Sorry, Larryz, Ovation's already done it, sort of. Here ya go . . . Ovation Idea

 

Sorry WP and D...even if they BTOB it isn't going to happen for a long long time...take a trip to the Magic Castle in LA and stand in front of the Baby Grand and say "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" or anyother song for that matter and the Baby starts playing your song from start to finish acoustically in real time (not a recording)...the Yamaha Piano can do the same only you pick the artist and insert the disc...now, let me know where the guitar is that can do the same on the strings as I'd love to see and hear it...maybe they are out there???

Take care, Larryz
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I've seen the Yamaha DisKlavier in action; it's a marriage of the player piano concept, and digital technology. It was pretty impressive seeing a bank of them playing the 'Ballet Mechanique', as part of the Dada exhibit a couple of years back.

 

Other than difficulty in designing a robotic fingering system for a 'player guitar', I'm not really sure I'd want one, even if it worked. I hated the Ovation Idea when the Kaman rep came around, trying to convince us to order it. I love listening to music, but I took up the guitar to PLAY music. If I wanted something that played music on voice command, I'd try controlling iTunes with voice recognition software - "Play Hendrix''Hey Joe'" - which is probably how that magic Baby Grand works.

"Monsters are real, and Ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win." Stephen King

 

http://www.novparolo.com

 

https://thewinstonpsmithproject.bandcamp.com

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