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. Read more
Looking like the amputated bass pedals from a home spinet organ, the Moog Taurus synthesizer was introduced in 1974 to bring synthesis to musicians’ nether regions. Odd as it may seem, over its seven years of production, the Taurus found favor with, of all people, guitarists and even bassists. Among its users were Andy Summers and Sting, Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee, Pink Floyd, Genesis and, even the great shredder, Yngwie Malmateen.
The Taurus (shown here) was a monophonic synth, and while it had just 13 pedals, its two oscillators had a range of five octaves. It offered three preset sounds—Tuba, Bass and a signature tone called Taurus—and one user- programmable patch that could be created with the unit’s voltage-controlled oscillators, filter and amp. Two foot sliders on top of the unit gave control over filter cutoff and volume.
Moog introduced the Taurus II in 1981. It upped the ante with 18 pedals, modulation and pitch-bend wheels, and a waist-height control panel that made settings easier to change during performance. Moog ceased making the Taurus In 1983 as digital synths came into vogue. Read more
Big Briar Moogerfooger analog effects modules long before he was designing alien stomp boxes for Big Briar, Bob Moog was forever changing the way we make music with a little invention called the synthesizer. With his Moogfooger modules, ol’ Bob has extracted some of the more guitar-friendly features from his creations and packaged them in sturdy oak-and-metal enclosures suitable for stomping desktop tweaking.
Most guitarists will peg the Moogerfooger Lowepass Filter as an “auto wah,” but plug in an expression pedal and it can morph into a conventional wah. Equally versatile is the 12-stage Phaser, which does ever flavor of phasing imaginable and goes a few steps beyond with a sweep frequency that ranges from a barely perceptible one cycle per 100 seconds to a brain-spinning 250 cycles per second. Read more
Imagine if you could bake a pie but had no idea what the ingredients were. Or if you could write a beautiful poetry without having a clue as to what the words you were using meant. Sound far fetched? Preposterous? Maybe, but this is the bizarre world in which so many rock guitarists operate. We play lush, complex chords and have no idea what notes they are composed of. We can whip up lyrical leads and never once stop to think what scale we are employing. In short, thanks to the pattern-and-shape-based nature of our instrument, guitarists can play music and know virtually nothing about music. Read more