Fun with Waves, As Videos Reveal Guitar String Movement – and iPhone Shutters

At bottom, a strobe and high-speed camera accurately represent the way in which a string is moving. At top, a video taken with an iPhone camera distorts your sense of how the string is moving by capturing instead images of standing waves, caused by the rolling shutter on the device. The video isn’t wrong – it’s just showing you beautiful visualizations of standing waves that make visible how the shutter works on the camera more than they do how the guitar works. Full disclosure: I love waves. Analog, digital, acoustic, we’re talking vibrations in sound (and other substances, as well …


More Digital Guitar Reflections: What a MIDI Guitar Can Do; Conservatism, Adoption, and Innovation

A robot guitar may not injure a human guitarist, or, through inaction, allow a human guitarist to come to harm. A robot guitar must obey any orders and tunings given to it by human guitarists, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. All human and robot guitarists must enjoy guitar hardware, so long as such gear lust does not conflict with the First or Second Law. Gibson’s Robot Guitar – speaking of recent guitar innovations. Science and art alike demand inquisitive exploration and experimentation. So, it’s encouraging that a discussion of the future of the digital guitar …


Auto-Tune for Guitars Doesn’t Have to be Like Auto-Tune for Vocals; The Digital Guitar Future?

Auto-Tuning a guitar is coming, say Antares. But if that seems frightening, it may be worth a closer look. Photo of the (classic) guitar (CC-BY) John W. Tuggle. A new tool could be for the expressive, not just the lazy. That’s the read of Auto-Tune for guitar, and it makes me excited to see what people will do with it. It could be the advent of the true digital guitar. Antares teased their efforts to bring Auto-Tune technology to guitars earlier this month, having gotten as far as working proof-of concept. (See Harmony Central’s exclusive video above, and Axetopia, Synthtopia.) …


Rock Band 3 Mustang Guitar as Expressive MIDI Controller: Frets, Strings, and Accelerometer

As a guitar, the Rock Band 3 Mustang is a bit unusual – there are strings, but an array of buttons replaces the frets, and it is intended as a game controller. But with all those buttons, strings, and sensors, it makes a remarkably flexible, surprisingly inexpensive controller. Our friend nay-seven puts it to good use with Sensomusic Usine. And talk about a budget-minded setup – one that could put platforms like the iPad to shame. Usine costs just EUR90 for a full license, with discounted educational pricing and a version you can try for free. The Mustang runs just …


For the Digital Guitarist, a Roland Synth, Processor, and MIDI in One Box

I remember seeing Roland’s guitar-to-computer connectivity for the first time. It seemed almost magical. Guitarists could pick up their main instrument and enter lines into notation software, or replace the sound of an instrument with a synthesized one, or track into a sequencer. It didn’t distract from their musicianship, because it showcased that skill. It was remarkable partly because it was so intuitive: why shouldn’t a guitarist benefit from the same flexibility I’d enjoyed as a keyboardist? The GR-55 is now Roland’s tenth-generation guitar synth. There’s a particular reason to pay attention to this iteration: it’s both a synth and …


Wild, Colorful Controllers for Guitarists and Ableton Live Users, from Starr Labs

Kids today. They just love their Ableton Live and their Rock Band and their alternative tunings and their Live triggers and touch controllers stuck to their far-out new boutique controllers and high-end MIDI guitars. Starr Labs has a line of MIDI controllers for Rock Band gamers and musicians on a budget, real guitarists (that’ll be the pro MIDI guitarists, not the gaming ones), and a novel new controller designed especially for Ableton Live. We saw their wireless line earlier today, which interoperates with these; here’s them exploring control. Gaming and serious musicianship have some surprising overlaps here. Look at the …


Exclusive Details: How the Rock Band 3 Fender Mustang Works as a MIDI Guitar

A toy controller – in a good way. The Mustang Pro guitar controller for Rock Band 3 is equipped with a full MIDI implementation and standard 5-pin port to connect to synths and computers. Since the very first Guitar Hero game, musicians have found ways of converting game music controllers into genuine music controllers, through various hacks and tricks. But now, no hackery is needed: Rock Band 3’s new “Pro” controllers ship with actual MIDI DIN ports on the back. With the help of Harmonix, we get to look inside how that MIDI implementation works. The Rock Band 3 Fender …


Rock Band 3, Behind the Scenes: When A Music Game Gets More Real

Play testing Rock Band’s challenging new play modes. You know, challenging — kind of like music. Alli Thresher, community moderator, and Jessa Brezinski, intern. What Harmonix has achieved with Rock Band, and their original Guitar Hero, is remarkable. At their core, these games are descended from arcade rhythm games, reducing music to simple coordination of a few buttons. Yet numerous studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that, in an age in which recording has made musical experience passive for many, the fantasy of holding a plastic instrument is enough to convince people to explore music making again. Rock Band’s collaborative gameplay …


Take a Solar-Powered Tuner Wherever You Go, Says Tascam … But Environmental?

Sure, we spend a lot of time looking at far-out gear and high technology, but you have to tip your hat to practicality. Tascam’s TC-1S is a compact, portable tuner that you can take anywhere. Solar and USB power mean you never have to worry about powering it, either. Features: 12-tone equal-tempered chromatic tuner. Input via 1/4″ jack or mic Note/sharp-flat/bargraph pitch indication readout on the LCD. Display via “bar,” “fine,” “strobe animation,” or “needle.” Protective silicone case included 51 grams. Shipping this month, street price “under US$40.” It’s a cute little design, and with the economic squeeze continuing, I …


Ableton Amp: Amplifier Add-on for Live Goes Minimal, Dirty, Integrated

Dirty and minimal – that’s how I’d describe first impressions of Amp, the just-announced Ableton amp modeling add-on for Live, available a la carte or free with Live Suite. It appears at first glance to be just what you’d expect: it’s a radically simplified user interface for modeling amplifiers (“Amp”) and cabinets (“Cabinet”). (Hey, shouldn’t that have been Amp and Cab, or does that make people think of wine and taxis?) Or, as Ableton’s press release puts it, the aim is to “get good dirt, fast.” What you get in the add-on: Live-styled, minimal UIs, emphasizing essential parameters Inserts you …