There are but a few places that guitar effects have not gone. In addition to reverb, echo, delay, fuzz, distortion, chorus, phasing and all the other standard flavors of effects, we now have pedals that let your guitar sound like a B-3 organ, an electric piano and even a sitar (thanks to Electro-Harmonix for those last three).
What we don’t have is an effect that makes your guitar sound like a banjo. And maybe there’s a reason for that. In an ideal world, demand begets supply.
But that hasn’t stopped Jon Langberg from moving ahead with his invention. Called the Guitar-Jo’s, it’s billed as “the first and only electric guitar accessory that makes your guitar sound like a banjo.”
Note the word accessory. The Guitar-Jo is not an electronic box you plug your guitar into but a mechanical device that attaches to your instrument using microsuction. Three height-adjustable dampeners on the Guitar-Jo apply pressure to the guitar strings, mimicking the plucky, twangy sound of the banjo.
Langberg has launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Guitar-Jo, and with less than two weeks left, he’s exceeded his modest goal of $2,900. Guitar-Jo is a go.
Necessity was truly the mother of this invention. Some time ago, Langberg had a gig coming up and he thought one of the songs he planned to perform would sound better on a banjo. But he doesn’t play banjo and had no time to learn. When effect pedals proved unable to create the sound, he tried tucking a piece of cloth under the strings and found that the effect sounded close enough to the real thing.
Over the next days Langberg fabricated a device that could attach to his guitar with suction cups. It mounted over the strings and held a piece of fabric against them. A pair of wing nuts let him adjust the amount of contact the fabric had with the strings and create exactly the right tone.
Langberg’s gig was a success, and several people asked him how he created the banjo sound. After showing the device to more people and receiving encouragement, he decided to improve the design and market it.
The finished version looks professional and neat and mounts under the strings rather than over it. And as you can see in the video below, it does just what Langberg set out for it to do.
There is one caveat. Langberg writes:
“The current model is designed for electric guitars that have a flat surface underneath the strings (e.g. Fender/Squier Stratocaster, Telecaster, Gibson/Epiphone SG, etc.) An example of a guitar which does NOT work well as far as mounting the Guitar-Jo is a standard Les Paul, which has a rounded surface underneath the strings. In short, the device needs to be flush with the strings, not slanted. We hope to one day overcome this restriction, but coming to a one-size-fits-all model is easier said than done. In addition, there should be at least 1.25" of space in between pickups for it to fit.”
Have a look at the video, and if you’re interested, pop over the Guitar-Jo Kickstarter page for a further look and perhaps a show of your support.