The 10 Coolest Guitar Gear Innovations of 2015

December 21, 2015
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    Every year brings a new round of great guitar gear. While it’s always exciting to see what the established manufacturers have to offer, some of the coolest and most innovative creations often occur on the periphery, through the visionary works of boutique operations and startups.

    We were intrigued by a number of offerings from these tech innovators. With the end of the year upon us, we present 10 of the coolest products they presented us with in 2015. We encourage you to check them out, not only to support their efforts but most certainly because we know you’ll find something here to spark your own creativity and take your guitar playing to a new level. 
     
    A Little Thunder
    Andy Alt’s A Little Thunder pickup lets you add a bass signal to the two lowest strings on your electric guitar, giving you the ability to play guitar and bass parts simultaneously on one instrument. The humbucker-sized pickup replaces an existing humbucker on your guitar, but it requires no physical modifications, such as drilling or routing. The built-in lithium battery can be charged with a standard cell phone cable and gives 12 hours of play time on a single charge.  

    A Little Thunder features Polyphonic and Low-Note-Priority modes, capacitive touch controls for easy access, and a stereo jack that replaces your guitar’s existing output, allowing you to send the guitar and bass signals to the same or separate amps. And because the technology is housed in the pickup, there are no latency or tracking issues that can occur with external devices, like octave pedals.  
     
    Read more here.

    For more information, visit ALittleThunder.com.

    <iframe width="740" height="416" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IHJom4wxmSk?showinfo=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>



    Wond
    Reminiscent of an EBow, the Wond lets you vibrate and sustain your guitar strings to create ethereal string- and flute-like sounds from any steel-stringed instrument. But unlike that historic effect, the Wond is an expressive accessory that’s as easy to use as a pick.

    You can control the power that the Wond applies to the strings simply by changing how hard you grip it. This, in turn, changes the timbre of the string tones. The Wond also features tactile feedback, allowing you to feel the magnetism as it touches each string and making it easy to position the Wond on the strings. There is also a headlight LED that helps you align the Wond with the string, adding yet another sensory indicator.

    Wond creator Paul Vo—the inventor of the technology behind the Moog Guitar and Moog Lap Steel—launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for the device and is now selling it on his website.

    Read more here.

    For more information, visit PaulVo.com.





    Jamstik+
    The new Jamstik+ adds several new features over its predecessor, the most notable of which is a magnetic hexaphonic pickup. This is a change from the previous model’s optical sensors, which some customers said caused a slight delay between picking a string and hearing it. The MIDI pickup provides a more natural and authentic picking feel. Its presence here should also make the jamstik+ more appealing to guitarists who have been as slow to embrace optical pickups as they were hexaphonics.
     
    Bluetooth connectivity is another improvement on jamstik+, one that allows it to connect seamlessly with Apple’s Bluetooth MIDI software. The previous model connected over Wi-Fi by creating its own network.
     
    In addition, jamstik’s firmware and companion apps have been upgraded to provide more instrument options—including banjo, piano, harp and sitar—from the moment the unit is connected.  Other new convenience include capo shifting and a programmable directional control pad for greater versatility.

    Read more here.

    For more information, visit Jamstik.com.





    Jack
    Jack is a smart Wi-Fi device that replaces your guitar cable with a “studio-quality 24-bit connection,” according to its creator, John Crawford. Unlike existing wireless devices, it doesn’t use Bluetooth or radio technology, which are slow and cause a loss in fidelity.

    Crawford’s patent-pending technology could be used with any musical instrument or microphone to make it a Wi-Fi device. “This is nearly 13 times quicker than conventional Bluetooth and about three times faster than compressed ‘low-latency’ Bluetooth,” Crawford told The Telegraph U.K.
     
    The device has an integrated battery, charges from a standard micro USB, and is designed to fit all guitars, including those with recessed jacks.

    Jack is still in development as of this post, but it’s a product we’ll definitely be keeping an eye on in 2016.
     
    Read more here.

    For more information, visit Wi-FiGuitar.com.



    Artiphon
    The Artiphon Instrument 1 is a universal MIDI controller that lets you play it however you want: as a guitar, a keyboard, a drum kit, a violin, or anything else you can think of. Just connect it to your smartphone, tablet or computer and Artiphon lets you play hundreds of apps, like GarageBand, using common gestures like strumming, tapping, bowing, sliding and more.
     
    While the Artiphon lacks the traditional materials and features of a guitar, it makes a handy composition tool, allowing guitarists to switch between their instrument, bass, drums and anything else they need. And any traveling guitarist who needs a small instrument to record with could find the Artiphon is just the ticket for trips and tour buses. Spontaneous performance is also possible, since it has its own built-in speaker.
     
    Read more here.

    For more information, visit Artiphon.com.

    Go to around 1:49 in the video for a brief demonstration of the Artiphon used for fingerpicking.






  • Roadie
    Roadie works in conjunction with your smartphone to tune your guitar quickly and without twisting your fingers. It consists of a handheld motorized tuner that you place on your tuning peg and an app for your smartphone. Roadie connects to the app via Bluetooth for fast hook-up anywhere.

    Select the tuning you want via the app’s menu, place the Roadie on the tuning peg and pick the associated string. Roadie automatically tunes the string to the proper pitch, listening for your guitar via your phone’s mic. You can also use the adapter to plug electric guitars into your phone for tuning in noisy environments.

    Roadie also works with any stringed instrument that use tuning pegs except basses, violins and instruments with wood pegs. The app comes with a wide range of common and useful tunings, and you can create custom tunings of your own.

    Read more here.

    For more information, visit RoadieTuner.com.





    Hammer Jammer
    The Hammer Jammer features six little hammers that you tap with your fingers or palm. The hammers, in turn, strike the strings and set them vibrating. The resulting sound is both percussive and not unlike that of a struck harmonic.

    In addition to giving you unique sounds from any guitar, the Hammer Jammer lets you easily perform multiple string trills and unusual patterns. It also provides an alternative way of playing for people who have limited movement due to injury, illness or age.

    The Hammer Jammer fits all six-string guitars with standard neck widths.

    Read more here.

    For more information, visit the HammerJammer.com.





    Uberchord
    Uberchord is a chord trainer that automatically recognizes chords it hears through your phone’s mic, and displays the matching diagram onscreen. It also has a built-in library lets you see every inversion for the chord, allowing you to build greater fretboard knowledge. To help you master those chords, Uberchord also includes a trainer that listens as you play and provides instant feedback to your progress. Play the chord wrong and Uberchord will show you which fingers are incorrectly positioned, as demonstrated in the videos below. In addition, the app includes a chord transposer to facilitate playing songs in different keys, as well as a tuner.
     
    Uberchord is currently available for iPhone.

    Read more here.

    For more information, visit Uberchord.com.





    ACPAD
    ACPAD is the world's first MIDI controller for acoustic guitars. It’s the brainchild of Berlin musician Robin Sukroso, who needed a piece of equipment that would allow him to bring his love of electronic and acoustic music together. The device consists of a two-millimeter-thick stick-on wireless MIDI controller that lets players to blend both acoustic and electronic sounds with effects and assignable tap pads.

    Its features include support for wireless MIDI and USB MIDI connections, velocity sensitivity, an internal rechargeable battery and presets of two live loopers as well as effects and sounds using Ableton Live. It comes in a choice of wood grain, black and white designs.

    ACPAD is currently taking pre-orders for June delivery.

    Read more here.

    For more information, visit ACPAD.com.





    Guitar Triller
    One of the coolest innovations of the year is actually quite old. The art of string striking goes back to Biblical times, but it may just become all the rage again, thanks to the Guitar Triller. This modern take on the ancient technique uses gravitational force and the natural curling motion of the fingers and wrist to bounce on the strings. With three different holding positions and dozens of playing techniques, the Guitar Triller’s sound bank includes trilling and harp effects, harmonics and overtones, percussive power, brighter dynamics, tremolo and even flanger-like effects, with new rhythmic possibilities that aren’t typically accessible to guitar and bass players without the use of pedals or multi-effect processors.

    Its features include three different playing positions—lead, rhythm and pick—each with multiple techniques and sound effects, a patented grip between the index and middle finger that allows for effortless bouncing or “trilling,” a tapping surface and more.

    Guitar Triller recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign in which 1,162 backers pledged $34,664 to help bring the project to life.

    Read more here.

    For more information about Guitar Triller, visit the Kickstarter page.



     
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