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Gibson Robot Guitar

I don't play the guitar, but I have to say that one of the coolest things at the recent CES conference was the Gibson Robot Guitar, which was demoed in a big tent out in front of the Convention Center.

You can appreciate it simply as a clever product concept -- and as a very nice bit of engineering.

No, the Robot Guitar doesn't play itself, or act as your virtual rodie. Instead, it tunes itself -- you press the control, and the tuning keys up at the top of the neck turn, by themselves, to adjust the tuning.

This is obviously very useful to set up the guitar before a performance, and is an incredibly useful aid when changing strings.

Guitar players also need to change the tuning for different songs in a set, so instead of swapping to a different guitar, they can select one of six presets (several user-defined), strum, and the guitar sets up to the new tuning in seconds.

The engineering elegance comes from adding these components to a guitar without disrupting its feel or balance. Gibson started with a Les Paul guitar, added some small electronics in the back of the body, and one Master Control Knob on the front to select the tuning functions. The motorized tuners are constructed in a lightweight alloy housing, and are not any heavier than common tuning keys.

But what about the wires? Did Gibson need to drill a hole up the neck to run wiring up to each of the tuners? Nah -- If you think about it, guitars already have wire strings. So the control signals, and the power, actually run up the strings to the keys!

Gibson's limited edition first-run Robot Guitar shipped in December, for $2,499. Enjoy!

See my Portable Audio Accessories Gallery for details.

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