Even though I like my guitars simple—I don’t even want Tone knobs on them—I’ve held a piece of the future, and, surprisingly—I love it. The Fusion Guitar incorporates an Apple iPhone or iPod Touch as an engine—as well as an onboard amplifier, speakers, and a rechargeable battery—and it definitely looks like something the superheroes of the Justice League might jam with before setting off to save the world. The über-portable, self-contained guitar could certainly fit in the Batmobile, ready to rock out and beam joy into a desolate vista of darkness and dread. Non-superheroes can simply bring the Fusion Guitar anywhere they please—from dog parks to mountaintops and beaches and beyond—and perform and practice unfettered from amps, pedalboards, and cables.
Designing the Fusion Guitar into a “self-sustaining performance environment” did require some ergonomic compromises. The shape is somewhat unwieldy for positioning on your lap, the body is a bit girthy (though not if you’re used to strapping-up ES-175s or jumbo acoustics), and the weight is a little on the heavy side with an iOS device onboard. Although those who prefer skinny shred-style instruments may have another view, I didn’t feel the guitar impeded my technique or was in any way uncomfortable. In fact, playability is excellent. The action is low and fast, and the frets feel great. Intonation is spot on, and after days of heavy playing, the tuning did not drift very far at all.
Of course, the coolest feature of the Fusion Guitar is the ability to plug in your iPhone to a top-mounted dock (for easy viewing and operation), utilize various tone-construction apps, and hear them through the two, full-range Tymphany Peerless speakers. To my delight, I was able to call on my favorite amp models in Apple GarageBand, going from a clean Fender amp to a dirty Vox jangle to a cranked Marshall stack with a few swipes of my finger. I also built my own virtual pedalboards, and I had so much fun experimenting with the seemingly endless possibilities. I was even able to create drum loops and play over them. Buskers of the world unite! If you want to invite some outside friends to the Fusion party, you can choose output options for a P.A. system, a conventional guitar amp, and headphones. The surprise here is that the high-output humbuckers—armed with a coil-tap function—sound really fantastic when plugged into an amp, making the Fusion Guitar much more than a tool for personal practicing or jamming on the go. You could gig with it, and have all the versatility of rocking through a computer without having to subject your laptop to the dangers of dank clubs and seedy bars.
I love what this guitar can do. I love all of the tonal possibilities and the portability. I love that it’s kind of a toy concept that evolved into something pro and working guitarists can use to create music. I just simply love this guitar. Long live technology!
PRICE $999 street
NUT WIDTH 1.685”
NECK Maple, though-body, C profile
FRETBOARD Maple or rosewood, 25.5” scale
FRETS 22 jumbo
TUNERS Fusion non-slip
BODY Impact resistant polymer
BRIDGE Wrap-around, adjustable saddles
PICKUPS Two humbuckers (coil-tap for bridge)
CONTROLS Two volume, 3-way selector
FACTORY STRINGS D’Addario, .009-.042
WEIGHT 8.9 lbs
EXTRAS Onboard 20-watt amp (Class D), two onboard speakers, Universal charger, rechargeable lithium- ion battery (four to six hour average battery life), guitar strap, guitar strings, dock adapters for various iPhone/iPod Touch versions, padded gig bag.
KUDOS Excellent implementation of technology. Plays well. Versatile— can go from private practice to the stage.
CONCERNS Apple devices only—currently not for Android phones.