Representatives from the world-famous Gibson guitar company recently showed off their latest creation at a suburban Maryland music store outside Washington. Gibson's self-tuning guitar comes as sales for the videogame Guitar Hero are increasing. VOA's Ruth Reader reports from Rockville, Maryland.
A small group of people gathered at the Guitar Center to watch musician Shane Hines demonstrate the capabilities of the Robot Guitar.
The guitar is modeled after the successful Les Paul guitar, but is much lighter. The bottom of the guitar is carved out to accommodate a small computer that tunes the guitar.
For Hines and other musicians, a self-tuning guitar can be a key tool in performance. "A big thing is alternate tuning. We have a song in open G. So, I'm in E flat right now, so a very cool thing is just to be able to do this. And then these things start moving. And I'm sitting here just rapping with the audience, like I'm rapping with you right now. And now I'm all set and I'm ready to go and that allows me to play this song in my set that I rarely, rarely play," says Hines.
Hines says that tuning a guitar in the middle of a set can take four to five minutes -- a major hassle in the middle of a performance. But he says the other option is rather expensive -- to hire someone to tour with him and tune guitars backstage during a performance.
Forbes Magazine says Gibson's new guitar may be an attempt to catch the attention of guitar consumers, and take the spotlight away from music-based video games, like the Guitar Hero series. With videogames, players can be rock stars without having any real musical talent. Gibson is making it easier for students to get their musical bearings.
Shane Hines had only 30 minutes before a show to learn how to use the guitar. He explains how he accomplished tuning the guitar ahead of time, "I was able to plug it in and make sure it sounds good, because that's the key. It's cool if a guitar can tune itself but if it doesn't sound good then who really cares?"
Despite Forbes' view that Robot Guitar and Guitar Hero compete for the same consumers, their makers are joining forces. Guitar Hero maker Activision has announced plans to feature Gibson guitars in its videogames. In exchange Gibson will supply wireless guitar shaped controllers for the game.