Is The Guitar Losing It’s Mojo A Question Worth Asking?
This month we ran an article which built on the Washington post’s recent column on falling guitar sales. The piece looked at the initial Washington post article all about the death of the electric guitar and the response online from various commentators, vloggers etc. With this in mind, we thought we’d look at the new ideas around the guitar and technology. What we found are ideas that are melding Guitar Hero concepts to mainstream guitar playing and we ask Is The Guitar Losing It’s Mojo?
Evolving Ideas On How And What A Guitar Actually Is?
We have been looking through Kickstarter for the latest guitar projects. It makes interesting reading and it got us wondering where all this is heading. As mentioned in the intro, this article was triggered by a previous article we ran on falling guitar sales. Part of the rationale put forward for the spike in guitar sales a decade or so was the appearance of the game Guitar Hero.
Guitar Hero players were eventually bleeding over to playing real guitars, but the question now is this; is the pendulum swinging the other way regarding how a new generation perceive what a guitar is and how it should be used?
New Ideas Hitting The Market
Okay, we thought we’d highlight some of the new ideas that are coming through. These technological concepts are important because people across the world are getting behind them…big time. Nothing seems to speak louder than money and people are putting their money behind a range of new and exotic ideas that join to or are offshoots of mainstream guitar thinking.
#1 Guitar Wing by Livid
First up is Livid’s Guitar Wing. It’s a piece of kit that wouldn’t look out of place in an Iron Man movie it’s so high tech. Here is what the company say about the Guitar Wing on their website…
The Guitar Wing provides an expressive, MIDI control surface designed for guitar and bass players. It easily attaches to any electric guitar or bass and communicates wirelessly to your computer or USB-MIDI host. Guitar Wing is the world’s first controller with native Bluetooth LE MIDI capability for Yosemite OS X and iOS 8 devices. You can use the Guitar Wing with the bundled effects plug-in, WingFX™, or dive into the vast world of software, controlling programs like Logic, Garage Band, Ableton Live, Guitar Rig, Reason, and many others.
and here is a promo video by the company featuring the artist Moldover.Livid Instruments Guitar Wing Wireless Control for Guitar
So it looks pretty amazing and there is no doubt that it’s bringing something to the guitar in terms of its connectivity and ability to generate new non guitar sounds. It does look a bit like mission control and you will need quite a bit of cash if you want the set up shown in the video. Here is another video which shows how Guitar Wing works.
In many ways is the Guitar Wing simply adding to the effects pedal or is it something new in it’s own right? The question that could be asked is where will the Guitar Wing go next? Will it go down a route where the guitar per se and the techniques needed to play it are not even needed? As an aid it looks good, however, how much attention is needed for all the knobs and lights as opposed to playing the guitar?
Guitar Wing got the backing!
Guitar Wing received almost double the cash it was looking for on it’s Guitar Wing Kickstarter project coming in at nearly $72,000 with four hundred and eighty one backers.
In our next example of is the guitar losing it’s mojo we look at something that means that “anyone”000000000000000000000 can play guitar.
#2 gTar by incident
The whole raison d etre of gTar is that “anyone can play guitar”. The guitar is a self contained solution and cannot be retrofitted to traditional guitar bodies although the company do state that they can be contacted if guitar manufacturers are interested.
It includes lights on the neck and an iPhone is connected to the guitar body. Check out the video which is the company promo.
gTar has a feature called “smartplay” which mutes out wrong notes and means you only need to hit the correct strings to actually get the perfect note of the song you are playing.
The company raised an astonishing $353,392 pledged of a $100,000 initial goal so the demand is certainly there. If so many people want access to a guitar that they don’t really need to learn to play correctly to sound great does this show a worrying trend?
On the other hand, others would argue that it is at least introducing people to the guitar and many may well progress to learning in a traditional way. Also, the guitar does have different difficulty levels which do care where you place your fingers on the fretboard.
Final contender in is the guitar losing it’s mojo piece.
#3 Artiphon Instrument 1
This may seem like it’s going a little of beam, however, it does have the guitar right up there in it’s initial promotional material so it’s definitely aimed at people who might think about taking up guitar. The Artiphon is many things. It’s marketed as a multi-instrument and you don’t need that much technical ability to actually play it.
As you can see from the above video, the Artiphon has no strings, but it does act like a guitar. You can create hammer-ons and pull-offs and string bends. It can also play a multitude of different sounds through the MIDI interface.The Artiphon INSTRUMENT 1 Black | Adaptive Multi-Instrument MIDI Controller Plug & Play USB + Lightning iOS iPhone iPad Mac PC
The Artiphon Kickstarter project received $1,319,672 pledged of $75,000 from 3,391backers…oomph get in the back of the net!
Summing Up For Is The Guitar Losing It’s Mojo
This article may seem a little like the charge of the Luddites which is why we used the featured image from the time. The Luddites are often thought of as people who destroyed technology because they didn’t understand it which is not the case. The men who destroyed the weaving frames in England in the 19th century new exactly what they were doing and why they were doing it. The machines threatened their livelihoods and they were trying to protect what little they had.
Are we saying destroy all technology? Absolutely not! The guitar is a consequence of technology and all the products that we have highlighted here and many that we haven’t undoubtedly have great features and points to them. Some of these products add to the expression and sounds that can be made from a guitar, others take a different direction. What we are trying to do is start a debate around the guitar and ask an uncomfortable question – does the guitar have a future that is as bright as the past?
Do people want the same as before?
In a world where people want to be famous for being famous, is there still an appetite to really work hard to get as good as you can on an instrument? Perhaps that is why the question is the guitar losing it’s mojo is relevant. Here are some questions we think are important.
- Does popular music in general need the guitar anymore?
- Is the sound of the guitar per se loosing it’s appeal as the world of electronic increases?
- Do people want to excel on an instrument or do they want a short cut?
- Is the sound of the guitar under threat to the point where a sample will do it all?
- Does environmental damage caused by the cutting down of trees mean the acoustic guitar’s days are numbered and alternatives to it are actually a good thing?