11 Guitars That Sound Like the Future
January 11, 2013 by Josh Tanner
People in the 1950s thought that we’d all be wearing jetpacks and driving flying cars about now. But did they bother to predict what kind of guitars we’d be shredding on? No, they didn’t. Probably because they couldn’t imagine just how hard these eleven axes would rock. From robot-tuning to synth access, these guitars will have you dreaming of the possibilities.
First up is the Gibson HD.6X Pro Digital Guitar, an instrument that’s capable of making each string sound completely different than every other. Using fancy tech and hexaphonic pickups, the signal from each string is pushed through and Ethernet port to a computer, where you can tailor the sound, EQ and wave-shape. And did I mention that you can put a different effects signature and amplification on each string? Even though this guitar came out in 2007, it’s still pushing the envelope even now. Cost: $4,654 USD
If you like retro guitars but you also like automated tuning systems, this Gibson Robot Les Paul Jr Special is just what the bionic doctor ordered. But the Tronical Powertune setup is only the half of it. Just spin the rotary Master Control Knob if you want a DADGAD, Drop D, Open E, and plenty of other tunings. Who says you can’t have your cake from the past and eat it with a spoon from the future too? Come to think of it, I’m not sure anyone ever said that. Cost: $4,343 USD
Okay, next up is an axe with three ways to make sound: a piezo, dual Carvin S22 humbuckers, and hexaphonic MIDI-capable output for access to synth. Acoustic + electric + synth = 3. Just checking on my math there. Oh, and all of this mega-complex tech is housed in a semi-hollow cutaway. A 9V battery is the spark that powers the Carvin SH575. Cost: $1,939 USD
Like the Carvin above, the Godin xtSA is an instrument with a trinity of sound. But instead of a piezo, the Carvin utilizes trademark bridge transducers to get their acoustic sound. A 13-pin output can run into standard guitar synth protocols, and if you want to mix sounds–say, blend acoustic with electric noises–it’s easy. There’s separate instrumentation for synth control. Cost: $1,551 USD
Next up is the Gibson Dark Fire, and it’s as cool as it sounds. Imagine the HD.6-X Pro, add robot-tuning technology, and put it in a wicked fire-and-glitz body and you’ll have a Dark Fire. Oh, and did I mention the motorized machineheads or the Chameleon Tone capabilities? If that doesn’t convince you of this guitar’s legitimacy as a member of this list, then maybe the Master Control Knob will: it’s hyper-complex and transparent, can be pushed or pulled, and has a colorful light display flickering inside like some distant Vegas lights. Cost: $3,724 USD
And you knew this one would be on here. Matt Bellamy’s guitar is like a guitar, but like, if a guitar had a spaceship built into it. The MB-1 has a light up panel behind the bridge that serves as a MIDI control pad, which can be hooked into a DigiTech Whammy pedal or a Korg KP-3 Kaoss Pad, amongst others. Coupled with this is a Fernandes Sustainer. Finger movement along the pad simulates foot-pedal action when plugged into a pedal, and co-ordinates sampling, filtering, and treating of sounds when plugged into the Korg Pad. Cost: $5,121 USD
The Parker Fly Mojo is another guitar with three ways to make sound. Piezo, synth access, and a Roland GK-KIT-GT3 Divided Pickup are the devices used to get the sounds. But the true beauty of this guitar is its multi-faceted 13-pin signal and integrated access to a plethora of secondaries, including the Roland V-Guitar system, the GR-20, and the VG-99. This guitar is like a door to a billion parallel musical universes. Think I am exaggerating? I’ll answer that question with another question: Have you played the Fly Mojo? Cost: $5,431 USD
The Dusk Tiger is very similar to the Dark Fire, but with enhanced teeth. Revamped robot-tuning (third-generation), a new-style Master Control Knob, and a whole memory storage cache that allows you to save your preset tunings and tones. And like the Dark Fire, you can use the Chameleon Tone technology to really design your own sounds, with the options to alter shape via the pickup selection, coil-split, EQ, piezo, and phase. Some people might take issue with the look of the Dusk Tiger, which is chrome and marblewood. I don’t think those people understand that music is invisible. Cost: $4,346 USD
Have you dreamed of eternal sustain? Then maybe the Moog E1 is just the daydream-in-the-flesh that you’ve been waiting for. While Moog is more known for their synthesizers and other such extravaganzas, it’s worth noting that E1 is actually a pretty slick piece of black sound. Piezo and two standard magnetic pickups, plus an onboard Moog effects filter. Oh, yeah, and that ‘eternal sustain’ I was talking about? Well, the geniuses at Moog call that “Vo Power”. And yeah, it works. Cost: $4,501 USD
What could you do with 12 banks and 50 sounds based on 25 different guitars? Well, if you’re Ke$ha, then maybe nothing, but if you at least know your pentatonics, you could do some mild damage at very worst. The Line 6 James Tyler Variax JTV-69US is a digital modeling guitar that has some serious upsides, including a Alternate Tuning control feature that changes outputted sounds, a ‘virtual capo’, an LR Baggs Radiance Hex piezo, and software from Line 6 that makes it easy to define your own distinct tunings and sounds. Oh, and forget 9V batts. This thing runs on rechargeable lithium-ions. Cost: $3,569 USD
Fret-King Super-Matic. Just let that name sink in. It’s the name of the guitar that robot-tunes your strings from the bridge, not the tuning heads. The ATDHT440 bridge is thing to behold, especially as its tuning your strings with the custom tunings you created or the factory presets. A pretty standard guitar body and Strat like appearance make this guitar a pill that’s super easy to swallow. And it’s from Britain. Which is cool for them and us. Cost: $2,017 USD
And that’s it. Eleven guitars that will make you forget that your lack of jetpacks and flying cars; eleven guitars that will make you wonder, “What’s next?” Hmmmm, maybe guitars with built-in jetpacks.