First "Robot" Electric Guitar Tunes Itself

Ever get mad trying to figure out why your version of "Voodoo Child" doesn't sound like Jimi Hendrix?
Posted November 14, 2007

- Reuters

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ever get mad trying to figure out why your version of "Voodoo Child" doesn't sound like Jimi Hendrix?

Help is at hand from what is described as the world's first robot guitar -- an electric guitar that not only keeps itself in tune even after string changes but also allows players to access six nonstandard tunings at the push of a button.

After 15 years of research, Gibson Guitar is launching a limited edition Les Paul Robot Guitar next month that has set players abuzz with both enthusiasm and skepticism.

"It will not make you a better guitar player but it will allow the average player to access some very sophisticated tunings," Gibson Guitar Chief Executive Henry Juszkiewicz told Reuters on Tuesday.

The six nonstandard preset tunings were used on hits ranging from "Honky Tonk Women" by The Rolling Stones and Hendrix's "Voodoo Child" to Led Zeppelin's "Going to California" and Joni Mitchell's "The Circle Game."

Gibson says the robot guitar is aimed at amateurs who have a hard time keeping their guitars in tune, as well as professionals who now use technicians during concerts to keep about 100 guitars tuned to different keys.

"Professional guitar players use a lot of different tuning and people who listen to the stars wonder why they can't reproduce the same sound themselves," Juszkiewicz said.

Temperature variations, changing strings and simply playing the instrument have long been tuning challenges for guitarists with even the best musical ear.

But some have already poured scorn on the robot guitar.

"I'm sorry, this is just lazy. With stuff like this, tuning is going to be a lost skill," wrote LettheBassPlay on the Web site forum.

Gibson said the robot guitar is the biggest advance in electric guitar design in more than 70 years.

"It's very addictive," Juszkiewicz said.

Gibson will launch 4,000 limited edition, blue silverburst Les Gibson Robot Guitars around the world on December 7 at a price in the region of $2,500. It expects to roll out a standard robot edition starting in January 2008.

(Editing by John O'Callaghan)

Copyright 2007 Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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