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Self-Tuning Electric Guitar

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the turn-it-up-to-11 dept.

Music 389

avirrey writes "The Technology Review has an interesting article on a Gibson Self-Tuning Guitar. Purist argue that you shouldn't need a guitar that self-tunes. Others argue that this will allow an artist to change tuning with one 'favorite' guitar, instead of having to swap out between songs." Ok I know what I think- freakin' sweet. Only technology will guarantee my sucking on the electric will at least be reasonably in-tune suckiness. Dear Gibson, Slashdot really needs to review your guitar. We'll need several review units and we lost your return address.

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Technical review... (4, Funny)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844833)

"...Know what I think- freakin' sweet. Only technology will guarantee my sucking on the electric will at least be reasonably in-tune suckiness. Dear Gibson, Slashdot really needs to review your guitar. We'll need several review units and we lost your return address..."

Yeah, and since slashdot is made by its community, we will need 900,000 test units =o) (sorry 900000+ id noobs =oP no testing for you)
 

Re:Technical review... (4, Funny)

my $anity 0 (917519) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844907)

Make that a flat million.

Re:Technical review... (5, Funny)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845039)

No vibrato bridge. Less scale length than a Strat. Lame.

Re:Technical review... (4, Informative)

IconBasedIdea (838710) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845429)

Its a Gibson, not a Fender. Its always gonna be a shorter scale neck, and almost always without vibrato.

Re:Technical review... (4, Funny)

Swampash (1131503) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845581)

Wow, I had no idea. What a coincidence then that I chose exactly those two things to illustrate a point of difference between a Gibson and a Strat. I mean, holy cow, what's the chance of me doing that? It's just... freakish.

Re:Technical review... (1)

Donniedarkness (895066) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845181)

Wow, I'm actually in that group!

Re:Technical review... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845231)

Me too!

Re:Technical review... (2, Informative)

thc69 (98798) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845529)

Wow, I feel old...

Re:Technical review... (4, Funny)

irtza (893217) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845313)

YES, 893217 makes the cut. Now, for me to practice my current great hit: random noise 44, soon to be followed by random noise 45. For those that missed random noise 1-43, I am afraid you will never get that opportunity as they're kind of hard to repeat... and I am not exactly sure how they go anymore.

determinism finally! (4, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844835)

As a software engineer, the one thing I hate about playing the guitar is that every time I pick it up I have to tune it, otherwise I won't get the same results as I did last time I sat down to strum. Is a little determinism too much to ask?

Re:determinism finally! (4, Informative)

xtracto (837672) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844903)

As a software engineer, the one thing I hate about playing the guitar is that every time I pick it up I have to tune it, otherwise I won't get the same results as I did last time I sat down to strum. Is a little determinism too much to ask?

I do not know about the physics of that stuff, but I play guitar as a hobby (classical, flamenco and heavy metal [acoustic and electric) and from what I know, the amount of tunning you have to do depends on the material of the guitar (at least for acoustic) and the quality of the strings. Also, one of the things they told you to do after you just replaced a string is to stretch it a lot and loosen it to make it expand all the material has to expand, otherwise you will tune it but as the new string expands, you will have to tune it again in five minutes.

I think this would be more appropriate for the likes of Joe Satriani or Steve Vai when in a concert they use a different tuning for some different songs... but I still like it more if they showcase different kinds of guitars and maybe it might be useful when/if they have to change tuning "on the fly".. but of course, it might not be possible to re-tune the guitar as fast as it is needed...

Re:determinism finally! (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845203)

WHY can't we all just STRUM along?

I prepose the not unpossible:

An superconducting, semi-colllliding, laser-optro guitar that reacts to finger interruption. This way, I don't have to toon my geetar.

What kind of thimbles will I need for protecting my fingers?

Re:determinism finally! (3, Interesting)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845451)

I think this would be more appropriate for the likes of Joe Satriani or Steve Vai when in a concert they use a different tuning for some different songs...

I don't think it would, unless all the alternate tunings are very similar to each other.

Getting the best sound out of a guitar using a specific tuning is not only a function of the tension on each string, but also the gauge and wrap of the strings. Take a guitar in normal EADGBE with medium-gauge strings and tune the bottom string down a step to D, and it'll still sound pretty close to ideal; but tune everything down a fourth to BEADF#B, and the sound will be thin and lifeless. You'll need to switch to heavier strings to play with that dropped tuning.

Besides which, half of the fun of a Steve Vai show is to check out all the different guitar models he has. There's his standard Jem, and there's the one with the brilliant blue LEDs inlaid into the fret markers, and there's the enormous heart-shaped guitar with three necks...

Re:determinism finally! (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844919)

Funny, I always get the same results when I strum a guitar -- ear-destroying crap.

Re:determinism finally! (2, Interesting)

my $anity 0 (917519) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844991)

Speaking as someone who just picked up the guitar about 2 months ago, I must say it's hard to play something genuinely bad-sounding on the guitar.
Somewhat dissonant, maybe.
Not good, maybe.
But it takes a concerted effort to play painfully bad.

Re:determinism finally! (1)

speedingant (1121329) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845293)

Lies! You should hear my sister playing. You'll never go near a guitar again.

Re:determinism finally! (1)

Tink2000 (524407) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845419)

I must say though, she plays one mean skin flute :).

(you knew it was going to be said...)

Re:determinism finally! (2, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845309)

But it takes a concerted effort to play painfully bad.

Well thanks it feels good to have my hard work appreciated. :)

Re:determinism finally! (4, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845591)

If this system is fast enough, it could re-tune between each strum so you can play an entire song on nothing but open chords!

Re:determinism finally! (1)

deesine (722173) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844927)

I think the piano is the only instrument that doesn't need frequent tuning. Maybe you picked the wrong instrument!

Re:determinism finally! (2, Insightful)

martinX (672498) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844999)

I think the triangle woudn't have to be tuned too often.

Re:determinism finally! (1)

chromatic (9471) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845459)

Pianos are much more difficult to tune than guitars. Plus you need really long arms to strum entire chords!

Re:determinism finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20844931)

the one thing I hate ... is that ... I won't get the same results as I did last time ... Is a little determinism too much to ask?

As a guitar player, I feel the same way about most software.

Re:determinism finally! (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845125)

1. Don't use vibrato (whammy bar)
2. Get a good guitar

I have a Garrison acoustic guitar, which they construct with laser precision and a graphite frame (key to stable tuning on an acoustic). Never goes out of tune, and it's my favorite, best-sounding guitar ever.

On the electric side, my Gibson SG holds tune almost just as well. My Fenders, not so much.

Re:determinism finally! (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845161)

A couple other things I forgot to mention:
3. Use thicker strings (stop being a pansy, it'll stop hurting after awhile)
4. If you're into guitar modding, change the bridge and tuners because they cause most tuning problems. Fixed bridge, preferably tune-o-matic.

Re:determinism finally! (1)

wanderingknight (1103573) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845305)

3. Use thicker strings (stop being a pansy, it'll stop hurting after awhile)
As a bass player (well, a sort of wannabe bass player, if you get my vibe ;D), I must say that every time I grab a guitar my fingers start hurting due to the strings being _too_ freaking thin.

Re:determinism finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845163)

This won't be completely deterministic, I guarantee. Certainly no more so than using a cheap electronic tuner. I used to tune by ear (tuning fork for A, then get the rest right from that), but I've found a tuner saves me about a minute, and is slightly (less than 2 cents) more accurate. Why would I shell out enough to buy a whole 'nother guitar for something that's more or less useless to me?

Re:determinism finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845565)

As a software engineer, the one thing I hate about playing the guitar is that every time I pick it up I have to tune it, otherwise I won't get the same results as I did last time I sat down to strum. Is a little determinism too much to ask?

Dude, your guitar is crap then. I can go well over a week without touching the tuning on any of my guitars. And that's playing them several hours every day.

Electronic tuner? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844847)

What's wrong with something like the Korg CA30 electronic tuner? You don't need a good ear to tune this way.

Re:Electronic tuner? (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844887)

I have a cheap little piece of junk electric tuner, does a great job. When I was sixteen or seventeen I could tune from a piano, but I think my hearing isn't quite as good now, and despite the fact that I love to show off my tuning prowess, doing it by ear just ain't all that reliable now.

Re:Electronic tuner? (1)

mikaere (748605) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844915)

Meh. I used to use an electronic tuner to tune up my accoustic guitar. But I found that using a tuning fork was better in the long run. I could tune up more quickly and it never ran out of batteries.

Re:Electronic tuner? (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844981)

it is not very exact. even a strobe pick is a better tuner.

Re:Electronic tuner? (1)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845261)

I only play acoustic so this leaves me flat....

Yay for elitism! (0, Offtopic)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844857)

I'm a fan of elitism of any sort, whether it be server monkeys in charge of making sure I clean out my email, or tuning monkeys who think that they're somehow better people for doing things themselves. Keep it coming!

Van Halen (0)

ResidntGeek (772730) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844859)

Eddie Van Halen could have used one of these in Greensboro the other night. Do they still self-tune if you bang the headstock against the stage a few times?

It's a tribute to the greatness of the band that even with an out-of-tune guitar for the last few songs, it was still the best concert any band has ever put on, ever.

I guess.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20844861)

...I don't really see what the huge deal is. Most guitars are tuned with an electric tuner these days anyways. I don't have to jiggle the pins myself? Sure, why not?

A few things I want to be sure of, though:
* I can "tune" the guitar arbitrarily. If I want to tune to 438 instead of 440, that needs to be allowed. If I want to tune everything down a half step, that needs to be possible without fighting or complaint. If I want open D, same notion.
* The guitar needs to be locked in a tuning. One thing you do NOT want is the guitar trying to retune itself while you're playing. This will create awkward sounds, and will also have disasterous results if you try and bend a note or (god help you) play slide.

I guess this sounds cool, though frankly this isn't enough of a big deal for me for me to pay terribly much extra for it. It saves hassle, but it's usually "once a session" hassle.

Re:I guess.... (2, Insightful)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844951)

* I can "tune" the guitar arbitrarily. If I want to tune to 438 instead of 440, that needs to be allowed. If I want to tune everything down a half step, that needs to be possible without fighting or complaint. If I want open D, same notion
It seems from TFA that you can do all of this. It comes with several preset tunings and you can program your own.

* The guitar needs to be locked in a tuning. One thing you do NOT want is the guitar trying to retune itself while you're playing. This will create awkward sounds, and will also have disasterous results if you try and bend a note or (god help you) play slide.
It has a knob that you pull out to turn the tuning mechanism on, then you turn it off while you are playing so it's not trying to adjust.

I found this part of the technology to be especially clever:

As the strings are played, the Powertune processor compares their actual frequencies with the desired notes and sends instructions--tighten the string this much, loosen the string by that much--to tuning pegs equipped with strong, tiny servo motors mounted on the back of the guitar's head. Because onstage interference could potentially degrade a wireless signal, the system uses the strings themselves to send the signal.

Re:I guess.... (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845533)

I found this part of the technology to be especially clever: the system uses the strings themselves to send the signal.

Clever, yes, but unnecessary. If they had put the tuning servos behind the bridge, inside the guitar body, there would be no need to send signals up the neck to the headstock.

But I guess the traditionalists at Gibson couldn't stomach the idea of a Les Paul with missing or decorative-only tuning pegs at the end of the neck, so the developers had to figure out a workaround.

Not New (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20844863)

They've been available for years now.
That said -- it's nothing novel, nothing revolutionary. The same skill is needed to play anything on it reasonably. These kinds of things usually aren't the sort of additions you'd like to have on a guitar anyway (for example, whammy bars really try the strings' tensions; in the long run - you can expect a guitar to have a much shorter life than its counter-whammy-barless-guitar) -- the traditional thing is fine, thank you very much.

Can you hear the piezo output too? (2, Interesting)

insanecarbonbasedlif (623558) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844889)

Sounds good to me, as long as it does standard and drop-d. The one question I have is do the system allow you to output the piezo pickups as well, or are the solely reserved for tuning?

Re:Can you hear the piezo output too? (1)

venicebeach (702856) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845007)

The system begins with an additional set of pickups mounted underneath the strings that are used specifically for the tuning process.

Sounds like they are just for the tuning mechanism.

Silly technological overkill (5, Informative)

Neon Aardvark (967388) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844893)

It takes me (and most other guitarists) a few seconds to tune a guitar.

It's a pleasant, harmless little ritual, and somewhat calming before you play a gig.

This is a silly and expensive gizmo, IMO.

Re:Silly technological overkill (5, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845055)

Agreed, but there are five situations where it could be useful, IMHO:

  • Fast tuning changes mid-song (need to be in drop-D for a stretch).
  • If you left it on, the ability to instantly correct minor variations in pitch would make setting up the guitar almost a non-issue instead of a pain.
  • If you can make it cheap enough, it wouldn't matter if you didn't let the neck cure long enough (causing the axe to get out of tune constantly) so long as the hardware could keep up, so the crap guitars could get a lot better and/or the good guitars could start to really suck without anyone noticing.
  • It would be great when you're playing with four other guitar players and nobody seems to agree on the pitch.
  • Twelve string.

Re:Silly technological overkill (1)

garett_spencley (193892) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845353)

It would also be nice to have such a feature on a guitar with any kind of floating bridge. A self-balancing, self-tuning floating bridge guitar would save even the most seasoned professionals a lot of time during re-stringing / initial tuning. I change the strings on my guitars once / week and it takes me about 20 minutes / guitar to setup my floaters. Of course it's a trade-off because then I don't have to worry about tuning them until I re-string them again (or if the temperature changes).

But, alas, I'm almost 100% positive (I didn't RTFA) that this particular technology could not be adapted to a floating bridge.

Re:Silly technological overkill (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845215)

Indeed. The bigger problem with tuning is not getting the open strings to match the right pitch, which is easy, but rather getting the intonation right, so the notes are still the right pitch as you move up the fretboard.

Re:Silly technological overkill (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845347)

Well I accept that's your opinion, but from TFA, it seems other pro musicians disagree...

"This isn't the first, or the most advanced, self-tuning guitar system on the market. Over the past 20 years, a small Colorado company called TransPerformance has custom-built about 300 guitars, costing $3,000 and up for the electronics alone, for rock stars including Jimmy Page and Eddie Van Halen."

Perhaps it has more to do with the musician's playing style.

Also if the system got cheap enough it might be useful to beginners who can't tune - yes I know they can use an electronic tuner, and yes I know they need to learn to tune sooner rather than later, but a cheap and quick built-in tuner might let an absolute beginner concentrate on excercise rather than wondering if it sounds wrong because they're doing the wrong thing or because the thing's out of tune.

Re:Silly technological overkill (1)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845359)

It's just a fancy robo-roadie [amazon.com]

I dunno, I think if you can't tune your guitar with a 440hz tone, then you need to work on your ears. Since Gibson == expensive, this is not geared to n00b players. What kind of advanced player cannot tune by ear?

Re:Silly technological overkill (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845379)

Some n00b players can afford it, thank you very much, and would rather spend time, which is money, practicing than tuning.

Re:Silly technological overkill (0, Flamebait)

hobo sapiens (893427) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845481)

Ok, let me restate that. n00b players *shouldn't* spend that much on a guitar.

Or, better yet, do. Then I'll buy it from you at a cut rate when you give up because learning guitar (or music in general) takes a real commitment.

Eh.. (1)

FunWithKnives (775464) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844897)

Seems like a solution in search of a problem to me. It might have been useful if it was able to tune-on-demand, to alleviate the pauses between songs during a show, but it doesn't. You still have to stop, flip the switch, and let it do its "auto-tune" thing. So it's really only good for those who are too lazy to adjust their own tuning. And three-thousand bucks just for that is a waste.

Re:Eh.. (1)

krough (771131) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845043)

I saw Peter Frampton play one of these a few years ago. My friend's brother was running sound, so we got to go backstage before anyone got to the venue. He had two of these guitars sitting there. My friend explained how they work and that they have hundreds of preset tunings and the ability to have the user program their own tuning. They supposedly change tunings in less than a second.

He started playing a song and then just before the slide solo he hit one of the buttons which automatically tuned it to a pre-programed open chord and played the slide solo. At the end of the solo he hit another button and it tuned back to his original tuning and continued to play rhythm. It was pretty slick.

Re:Eh.. (1)

Belgand (14099) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845201)

You sure it wasn't one of those Line 6 Variax guitars? Those can not only change tuning, but are designed to model the sound of various guitars as well. Of course, when you program in alternate tunings on something like that you're not physically changing the tuning like you would with this system, you're just creating the illusion of a different tuning.

Re:Eh.. (1)

c_fel (927677) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845365)

And three-thousand bucks just for that is a waste

I think you mean 899$. 3000$ was the cost of the other guitar that was made before this one, and that could tune itself faster.

Re:Eh.. (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845491)

Dude, it's a Gibson. The $3k is for the guitar. The tuning system costs $800.

This is the best thing since sliced bread... (1)

noiseordinance (1149049) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844911)

... at least I hope it is anyways. I've grown quite dependent of tuning electronically, which I'm trying to steer away from, but this is a MUST HAVE for anyone who performs live. Nothing is more embarrassing that your strings detuning a performance. And I don't play on cheap equipment.

Re:This is the best thing since sliced bread... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845045)

You play on good equipment, and your strings are coming out of tune immediately after tuning up manually? Seems like either the strings areen't properly getting streteched up when they're put in, or your tuning pegs are either too loose or getting knocked. A well-maintained, properly-strung guitar should not exhibit "spontaneous detuning." If yours is, get it looked at.

A multi-hundred dollar solution to make sure you don't have a loose $10 peg seems like a poor investment to me.

Re:This is the best thing since sliced bread... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845271)

You've never noticed your guitar sometimes goes slightly out of tune after playing non-stop for hours at a time under hot lights? Your ears are bad. You should get them looked at.

Re:This is the best thing since sliced bread... (1)

noiseordinance (1149049) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845373)

I'm talking about playing live shows. You obviously have never played one, otherwise you'd know that in front of large crowds, you tend to hit the strings harder than normal. I've been a professional musician for 10 years. I'm pretty sure I know how to stretch my strings. Machine heads are one of the first things I change out, even on a higher-end guitar.

I bet this will be a tough sell (3, Insightful)

Rizzle_p_Mizzle (1166925) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844933)

I agree that this looks like a super-neato piece of kit, but I would be willing to bet it will have trouble selling because: 1. It's one more thing that might break on stage. 2. Guitarist love tradition and tend to resist change. How long has the Les Paul been in production in its current form? Something like 60 years. The most revered amps are point-to-point wired vacuum tube models. Most people who are willing to drop this kind of coin on guitar gear would probably go for some aged custom model before they went for this. I'm not saying it's not useful, just that I would be surprised by significant commercial success.

Good, and badish (1)

IamWasabi (981508) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844935)

This is really nice in the fact that wailing on an electric can take it out of tune pretty quickly, so it could get annoying re-tuning all the time, and, as stated above, you could probably switch to "drop D" tuning much faster. On the down side some people (not me) have perfect pitch, and if this doesn't match them exactly, it could drive them insane, fast!

Re:Good, and badish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845283)

Heh, someone else mentioned Eddie van Halen and he came up with just the thing for you, assuming you have a Floyd-Rose trem. It's called the 'D-Tuna' and, like a lot of great ideas, it's very simple when you look at how it works.
There's a web site ( http://www.dtuna.com/ [dtuna.com] ) but you might need to search around for something less horrible-looking to give you more information.

Geek analogy (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20844953)

I understand that some who frequent this site may have trouble understanding the issues here, so to align this with something us geeks can understand:

All these new young programmers come out of college with no idea how to program they use [Machine Code|Assembly|C|C++|JAVA|C#|VB|ASP|Ruby|Python|Ada|Pascal] where they don't have to manage their own [insert favourite resource here] like I did when I coded in [Machine Code|Assembly|C|C++|JAVA|C#|VB|ASP|Ruby|Python|Ada|Pascal].

I hope this helps us to build the bridge between us geeks and these cool guitar types.

I thought about doing that once. (3, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844959)

I thought about designing a self-tuning instrument once, but for piano, where the tuning process is a lot more painful. It would consist of basically a high speed camera and a strobe light that could be tuned to any frequency. For each piano pitch, it would hit the string, start the strobe, and compare the position on consecutive beats like a strobotuner, adjusting until it wasn't moving. Either that or just use a much faster high speed camera and skip the strobe light. The point is that by using optics instead of resonance, you could accurately discern an individual string's fundamental frequency without the need to stop down the remaining strings. Kind of what they did with piezo pickups, but a heck of a lot closer together. :-)

The whole thing could be built into a block that snapped down onto the three pins on a given model of piano and took advantage of the fact that there's more than one of them so that it wouldn't have to mount to anything else. With the single bass strings, you'd have to tune them by hand, but they're the easy strings.

Never built it. Never cared enough, never had time, never thought it would sell, etc.

Re:I thought about doing that once. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845001)

Well, I guess technically that's not self tuning so much as the first step towards it, since you'd need one per string for full self tuning, but you get the idea.

Re:I thought about doing that once. (1)

GroundBounce (20126) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845121)

While just fluff for a guitar, the idea actually could make sense for a piano. Where I live, tunings from a reputable tuner are around $120 a pop, so two tunings per year sets me back $240. If a piano auto-tuner cost $1000, it would still have a reasonable return on investment, and I could have the piano *always* in tune.

Piano tuning is complex, though. Because of significant inharmonicities, string fundamentals are not usually tuned to perfect intervals - the tuner stretches the base and treble registers to account for this. The best-sounding tunings I've ever had are from old-school tuners who do it entirely by ear. What might work, however, would be a system where you would have the piano tuned by ear by an expert, then the system could learn this tuning and replicate it automatically.

Re:I thought about doing that once. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845299)


I thought about designing a self-tuning instrument once, but for piano


I used to work with a venerable old technician who would tell a story (probably apocryphal) about a piano he had to repair.

The owner had devised a scientific method of tuning it (using a torque wrench) He busted a half dozen strings (all the strings that he tried to tune) before admitting that his brilliant method wasn't going to revolutionize the field.

Dumbass! (1)

Optic7 (688717) | more than 6 years ago | (#20844993)

You were supposed to tell them that you lost the return address AFTER we had received the Gui-tars! NOT before!

I already have a tuner... (5, Funny)

Landshark17 (807664) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845003)

All I want is an amp that goes up to 11.

Re:I already have a tuner... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845167)

Why don't you just make 10 louder, and make 10 be the top number, and make that a little louder?

Powertune processor (0, Offtopic)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845009)

Cool. Does it run Linux?

Re:Powertune processor (1)

Tatisimo (1061320) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845065)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those! (musicians call Beowulf clusters of instruments "bands", I heard...)

Gibson finally catching up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845011)

I first saw one of these back in '98. Pretty old news. It was sweet though. The one I got a chance to play with was on a strat body.

This is not news, nor is it new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845029)

And Gibson isn't innovating [transperformance.com] anything. Transperformance built their tuning system well before Gibson had this "idea".

Hey, I can get one! (1)

dontspitconfetti (1153473) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845061)

If they have Gibson self-paying loans...

Not so great for alternate tunings? (1)

Dmala (752610) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845071)

I'm thinking this won't really be that useful for switching between tunings on stage. When you change tunings, the pressure on the neck changes, causing the strings to fall out of tune. Unless you have an exceptionally stable neck, it usually takes a couple of passes before the strings hold the new tuning. This system will reduce the time spent actually tuning the strings, but I doubt it'll speed the process up all that much.

Also, I have a tendency to whack controls while I'm playing. I shudder to think would would happen if the tuning system got activated accidentally mid-song.

Re:Not so great for alternate tunings? (1)

toddhisattva (127032) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845535)

I shudder to think would would happen if the tuning system got activated accidentally mid-song.
And I am wondering how it would sound to go from slack-key to 12et while playing. Holding a single chord and letting the thing try its best.

Me trying to break strings but only succeeding in pulling out the patch cord [freewebs.com] .

"every guitar player's nightmare"? (1)

N7DR (536428) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845079)

From TFA:

It's every guitar player's nightmare: you step onstage, strike your rock-god pose, triumphantly strum the first chord of a song--and discover that your guitar is out of tune.

Excuse me? Firstly, this hardly qualifies as a nightmare. Secondly, any guitarist who steps on stage without having checked the tuning is either incredibly sloppy or is sufficiently rich and famous that he has roadies to check this stuff for him (and whose jobs depend on this 'nightmare' scenario never happening).

Much more likely is breaking a string. I can sort-of see the point of auto-tuning the remaining strings because it's a royal pain retuning a guitar to account for the change in tension after a string has broken. But still, when I shell out lots of cash for an instrument it's to get a superior sound, not to buy some fancy piece of technology (which will probably break just when I need it).

Various (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845081)

For the touring musician who uses a lot of different tunings, that's all this system is going to appeal to, so that he could get rid of a few guitars. I could tune from Standard to a DADDAD tuning in less than a minute that's for sure, and that's without practice at trying to go fast; so even if you did use a few different tunings and you were playings shows, it wouldn't be so bad to make your audience wait a ~30 seconds between songs for you to switch tunings once in a while. And if you're not playing serious shows, this is useless: spend the 30 seconds tuning.

I saw a previous poster write that everytime he goes to pick up his guitar it's out of tune. Your guitar should be able to hold tune for a long time if you know how to tune properly and it has good components. It's much more fun to play a high quality guitar that reacts the way you want it to. Spend the extra cash and buy a nice guitar, even if just for hobby playing. Unless you're using certain tremolo systems, then you might have tuning problems which I don't really know about because I don't have much experience with trems.

And the one problem I can see with this automatic tuning system is that it may not get things just right. Anyone who plays a lot knows that to make your guitar hold tune perfectly through a song where you hit those strings fairly hard, that you have to spin your pegs the right way when you're brining it into tune. This tuning system might get them strings onto the proper notes spot on, but it sure won't be programmed to spin the pegs that special way which you only learn from experience.

Purists? (1)

JeffSh (71237) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845087)

Purists? it's an electric guitar. The instrument is the personification of innovation, and players of that instrument should be the embodiment of the innovators.

Atleast that's how it should be. Obviously, not the case.

Re:Purists? (1)

NosTROLLdamus (979044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845369)

Purists? it's an electric guitar. The instrument is the personification of innovation, and players of that instrument should be the embodiment of the innovators. Atleast that's how it should be.
Why?

Tuning a guitar is a ridiculous notion (4, Funny)

Vainglorious Coward (267452) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845131)

How to play Guitar [wfu.edu] by David [Jad] Fair

I taught myself to play guitar. It's incredibly easy when you understand the science of it. The skinny strings play the high sounds, and the fat strings play the low sounds. If you put your finger on the string father out by the tuning end it makes a lower sound. If you want to play fast move your hand fast and if you want to play slower move your hand slower. That's all there is to it. You can learn the names of notes and how to make chords that other people use, but that's pretty limiting. Even if you took a few years and learned all the chords you'd still have a limited number of options. If you ignore the chords your options are infinite and you can master guitar playing in one day.

Traditionally, guitars have a fat string on the top and they get skinnier and skinnier as they go down. But he thing to remember is it's your guitar and you can put whatever you want on it. I like to put six different sized strings on it because that gives the most variety, but my brother used to put all of the same thickness on so he wouldn't have so much to worry about. What ever string he hit had to be the right one because they were all the same.

Tuning the guitar is kind of a ridiculous notion. If you have to wind the tuning pegs to just a certain place, that implies that every other place would be wrong. But that absurd. How could it be wrong? It's your guitar and you're the one playing it. It's completely up to you to decide hoe it should sound. In fact I don't tune by the sound at all. I wind the strings until they're all about the same tightness. I highly recommend electric guitars for a couple of reasons. First of all they don't depend on body resonating for the sound so it doesn't matter if you paint them. As also, if you put all the knobs on your amplifier on 10 you can get a much higher reaction to effort ratio with an electric guitar than you can with an acoustic. Just a tiny tap on the strings can rattle your windows, and when you slam the strings, with your amp on 10, you can strip the paint off the walls.

The first guitar I bought was a Silvertone. Later I bought a Fender Telecaster, but it really doesn't matter what kind you buy as long as the tuning pegs are on the end of the neck where they belong. A few years back someone came out with a guitar that tunes at the other end. I've never tried one. I guess they sound alright but they look ridiculous and I imagine you'd feel pretty foolish holding one. That would affect your playing. The idea isn't to feel foolish. The idea is to put a pick in one hand and a guitar in the other and with a tiny movement rule the world.

Re:Tuning a guitar is a ridiculous notion (1)

Maestro485 (1166937) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845383)

Those of us who play the guitar call people like you "noobs".

Re:Tuning a guitar is a ridiculous notion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845519)

If you ignore the chords your options are infinite and you can master guitar playing in one day.


I certainly hope this is some kind of deranged satire, because otherwise you are full of shit. I'm a musician - not a professional, but a serious amateur - and I've had a good ten years of music education. Theory, practical, harmony, history, etc. When you learn all of that stuff, it opens up worlds and worlds of possibilities. It's quite literally a language - if you don't learn the grammer and the syntax and the history, all you are doing is making unintelligible, simple sounds.

Of all the guitarists that I've ever encountered, the very best were musicians first, guitarists second.

tuning (1)

genrader (563784) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845149)

I like good tuners as opposed to bad ones, but I don't ever want a guitar where I don't have to tune. It helps you with hearing music and picking out notes better, plus I prefer the challenge of having to do something different in a song if it comes detuned. Forces creativity.

Useful while drunk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845159)

Usually the only time I need to tune without a tuner is while drinking, usually at a bonfire or party, and although I've gotten good at it (I like to party), this would certainly help :-)

(Half)Joking aside, this is actually a pretty interesting concept. I don't know how popular it will be with good guitar players, but from a technical standpoint its kind of cool. Personally, tuning by ear with a piano or otherwise accurate gauge is excellent practice despite seeming rather mundane with advancing technology. I suppose you could say that about most technological advances these days.

I still love my acoustic.

Obligitory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845183)

Lets hack that Gibson and become guitar heros...

Servomotors? In my guitar? (1)

AmazingRuss (555076) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845209)

Weight. Noise. Power requirements. Mechanical complexity.

No thanks.

Floyd Rose? (1)

warrior (15708) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845211)

How about just a good Floyd Rose? A good FR implementation can keep a guitar in tune for weeks at a time, even with lots of bends (including the trem) and heavy palm-muted thrashing. The Edge-Pro or whatever it is on my Ibanez makes it trivial to get quickly back in tune as strings stretch - the fine-tuning knobs on the trem only take a slight turn to get right back to the right pitch. IIRC Ibanez guitars even in the $400-$500 range come with pretty good Floyd Rose tremolos.

Strangely... (4, Funny)

Belgand (14099) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845257)

In America, self-tuning guitar tunes itself. In Soviet Russia, self-tuning guitar is tuned by you!

Re:Strangely... (1)

snowleopard10101 (964540) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845517)

In America, you tune a guitar. In Soviet Russia, the guitar tunes you.

Re:Strangely... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20845543)

In Soviet Russia, your jokes still suck.

Use lever activated tuners (2, Informative)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845337)

Michael Manring http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Manring [wikipedia.org] uses a custom Zon Bass Guitar http://www.zonguitars.com/zonguitars/hyperbass.html [zonguitars.com] . Below each tuning knob is a lever which can de-tune a string with just the flip of the switch. No fancy pickups, electronics etc. Sure if he needs to tune beforehand, he does it the old fashioned way (by ear, tuner etc..), but while playing he detunes in a flash. You can find him pretty easily on youtube http://youtube.com/results?search_query=Michael+Manring&search=Search [youtube.com]

Steinburgers (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845371)

Never need retuning ( well, not *never* but if you have one, youll understand )

NO CAR ANALOGY HERE! (2, Insightful)

el_flynn (1279) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845387)

To me, this self-tuning guitar is to guitarists what script kiddies are to hackers, no? And I sure as hell would bet that Jimi Hendrix wouldn't sound like how he did if this type of thing was around.

I don't know about you, but the minute "out-of-tune-ness" and things of that nature is what makes a musical performance sound more human. Similar analogy: quantizing [wikipedia.org] and how that makes things so.. robotic..

Re:NO CAR ANALOGY HERE! (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845545)

More like, self-tuning guitar is to guitarists what 4 gen tools are to programmers: not always the right tool for the right job, but when they are, you'd be stupid not to use em when you're trying to get something done. If you're doing it as a hobby, its something else.

Cool! (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845457)

More parts to go flying off when I smash it on stage.

Nice but not a huge deal (1)

ed.markovich (1118143) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845473)

It should be understood that this device does not provide continuous tuning as you play [which, if you think about it, would probably be impossible to implement and annoying to the player].

This technology simply allows you to place the guitar into a 'tune mode' having selected a particular tuning scheme, strum all the strings at once, and let the automated tuning pegs tighten or loosen your strings to match that scheme. According to the Tronical website, it may have up to 8 seconds to go from one tuning to another.

This is pretty much equivalent to using an electronic tuner, plucking one string at a time, watching the needle on the tuner, turning the peggs, replucking the string to check if the needle is now centered, repeating if necessary, and then moving on to the next string. Some argue that any use of electronic tuners is 'cheating' but most people are fine with that. Anyone who's fine with electronic tuners should be fine with this - tuning based on watching the needle is as ucnreative and deterministic as tuning using this device, so no purity is lost.

This Is Not New.... (1)

onosson (1107107) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845485)

Jimmy Page has been using a similar guitar made by Transperformance ("The Performer") for years. Check out this article: http://www.guitarsite.com/newsletters/991206/9.shtml [guitarsite.com] Gizmag (http://www.gizmag.com/go/4951/) reports that: "Other celebrity owners of the guitar include Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac), Robert Hunter (Grateful Dead), Kenny Loggins, Peter Buck (REM), Eddie VanHalen (VanHalen), Pete Townshend (The Who) and technology afficiando Paul Allen (Microsoft, LINK)." And "The transperformance guitar has been in existence for 16 years". Here's the link to the manufacturer: http://transperformance.com/perform/index2.htm [transperformance.com] C'mon slashdot, you can do better!

alternate scales (1)

LordMyren (15499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20845539)

what if you want to tune for alternate scales?
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