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When Guitars are Reaching This Level of Tech is it still Guitar?


JayinLA

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At what point is a guitar no longer a guitar. Now I wan't to think of myself as one who embraces new ideas and not immediately dissmissive of the things that we can do now with our instruments. But a guitar that never can go out of tune regardless of what the strings are tuned to, seems almost a toy or a computer gadgit. That their is an element of genuiness missing. Granted it's still the same scales and stuff, but an electronic capo, a synth that patches tunings without any real feedback from the strings for intonation is a little much for me.

 

Once a guitar guy asked me. "How does Steve Vai bang on the whammy bar and stay in tune for the whole show. Well here it is.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPnIIbj-9eE

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Couldn't watch the video - buffered forever - probably my connection - it does that often.

 

My Parker stays in tune all night, and sometimes from gig to gig. No magic though, just good design.

 

But I see the guitars with computers on board, electronic tuning, and all that. I've never played one though. I suppose it's still a guitar, but with a computer on board, does that make it a hybrid instrument? Like a MIDI guitar?

 

I don't know.

 

I think that if the electronics don't get it the way, it's not a negative thing. I know, I sometimes bend a string intentionally out of tune for expression. A hair flat, or that blues third between the major and minor sometimes creates the right tension and resolving that tension then feels good.

 

On the other hand, when playing high, sometimes a little sharp sounds good - like stretch tuning a piano.

 

Other times, when harmonizing with another voice, a little out of tune sounds more in tune - a fleeting moment of just temperament.

 

I don't know if the auto-tune guitars will let you do that or not. If they prevent you from intentionally playing out of tune, I wouldn't want one.

 

But, there are more than one right ways to make music.

 

Insights and incites by Notes

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It's all relative. I'm a bit standoffish when it comes to pedals and I'm a borderline luddite when it comes to modeling amps. The Gibson robot thing was scary cool on my 2014 LP (since sold) but the novelty lasted about 10 minutes.

 

90% of my electric time is spent on a basic Telecaster with a cord and any amp that is within reach (literally). To some, I am a dinosaur but in 1950 I would have looked like a sorcerer.

 

I've even had existential crises debating if a Telecaster (or any other solid body for that matter) even qualifies as a "real" guitar. Then I remind myself it plays the same as an L-5 or Torres classical or J-200 or D-45, it resonates, it has a personality that transcends any pickup it may have, and it is nothing without someone's hands. So I guess it IS a real guitar.

 

it is nothing without someone's hands

 

Same could be said for anything Steve Vai uses I suppose.....

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Hi Jay,,

 

About 5:30 in I started to get a headache, that thing is a beast. Via is probably to the point where he doesn't even think about what he's doing on it. he's one smaahht bastid.

 

anyway I had a midi guitar back in the late 80s/90s and this does seem to be a descendant of the concept. Mine was a casio midi guitar which was made at the time by Ibanez, (it was actually a pretty good guitar out right) With the midi out, you could plug that into a sound module (A roland D110 as I recall), as well as s regular 1/4 out to go to the guitar rig, you were able to split the signal, or just have one or the other.

 

the sound controller (midi signal) went to a the sound board, and a full range feed came back in the stage monitors. At the time, I used it for the sole purpose of replacing the need for a keyboard player in the band I was in. The results were quite convincing when used correctly. (It was easier than replacing the guy who just left!) Also it was quite the "playground" when it came to recording.

 

In some places, this technology worked really good, but there was the latency to deal with, which at the time had improved, but was still something you had to be aware of. I had gotten pretty savy on it, and had a variety of midi patches set up where different strings, or parts of the neck would track different sounds. I could light that thing up when I needed to. But once the need went away, so did my desire to keep it. it took a lot of time to set up the sounds you would need for a particular song.

 

I think this answer is different for each player. If you like the bleeding edge, there's risks and rewards and an investment in time to learn it proficiently. At the time, the midi rig we used, fit the real need we had, it was fun to watch people look up at the stage with this confused look on their face.. hearing a piano, or other key based instrument, but seeing it come out of a guitar. "What the....?"

 

I think when it comes down to the basics or if you're more into the purist aspects, which I've settled back into for quite some time now, we'd have little "need" for the gadgetry.

 

While I can appreciate the advancements, I'm not quick to jump on those band wagons. at this point, I want to plug in and play.. Programming is for the 9 to 5 gig.

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Hi Jay,,

 

About 5:30 in I started to get a headache, that thing is a beast. Via is probably to the point where he doesn't even think about what he's doing on it. he's one smaahht bastid.

 

anyway I had a midi guitar back in the late 80s/90s and this does seem to be a descendant of the concept. Mine was a casio midi guitar which was made at the time by Ibanez, (it was actually a pretty good guitar out right) With the midi out, you could plug that into a sound module (A roland D110 as I recall), as well as s regular 1/4 out to go to the guitar rig, you were able to split the signal, or just have one or the other.

 

the sound controller (midi signal) went to a the sound board, and a full range feed came back in the stage monitors. At the time, I used it for the sole purpose of replacing the need for a keyboard player in the band I was in. The results were quite convincing when used correctly. (It was easier than replacing the guy who just left!) Also it was quite the "playground" when it came to recording.

 

In some places, this technology worked really good, but there was the latency to deal with, which at the time had improved, but was still something you had to be aware of. I had gotten pretty savy on it, and had a variety of midi patches set up where different strings, or parts of the neck would track different sounds. I could light that thing up when I needed to. But once the need went away, so did my desire to keep it. it took a lot of time to set up the sounds you would need for a particular song.

 

I think this answer is different for each player. If you like the bleeding edge, there's risks and rewards and an investment in time to learn it proficiently. At the time, the midi rig we used, fit the real need we had, it was fun to watch people look up at the stage with this confused look on their face.. hearing a piano, or other key based instrument, but seeing it come out of a guitar. "What the....?"

 

I think when it comes down to the basics or if you're more into the purist aspects, which I've settled back into for quite some time now, we'd have little "need" for the gadgetry.

 

While I can appreciate the advancements, I'm not quick to jump on those band wagons. at this point, I want to plug in and play.. Programming is for the 9 to 5 gig.

 

 

I am not trying to diminish Steve's playing, he is a crazy-good player, but when your guitar is more computer than guitar and the signal you are hearing really has little to do with what the strings are doing, to me it's a question of are we now playing a different instrument.

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Vai is crazy good, but honestly man I can't listen to more than one or two Vai songs at one time. Same goes for Satch. I have all their albums with he exception of the most recent ones. Tremendously skilled players, there is no doubt. But, there's really nothing there for "me" other than a blaze of notes, albeit, "perfectly" executed at unfathomable proficiency and speed. Same goes for the other guys that run in this herd. the "Shred" stuff, just aint for me.

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Nordegg is an interesting guy. He toured working as a tech for Frank Zappa through most of the 1980s and captured what I believe was most of his live gigs in that time on home video. Zappa used some of the footage in various videos produced before his death.

 

Now this may sound like an old heretic crank talking, but I have always felt that the electric, and especially since the advent of the solid body should probably have been called something different from 'guitar' from the beginning.

 

Yes, acoustics and electrics have 6 strings, they each have tuners, but they are not played the same way. Even if the chord shapes are the same, a true guitarist approaches the playing of each one in completely different ways.

 

The simple physics of what makes noise out of an electric (again, especially a solid body) is not what makes the sound out of an acoustic.

 

Is what Nordegg's playing a guitar? I think by what has become defined as a a guitar in the 21st century, yup. It's a guitar.

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Well, since synths this are known as keyboards, or even electronic keyboards, I might go so far as to suggest the phrase electronic fretboards.

 

 

 

I agree. And those of us who play with modeling, synth patches, super-gain and things think of the Electric guitar as just that. It has been a long climb up fron the "plank" that Les Pual brought to gibson. And there are still alot of guitar purists who play an electric as Wes Montgomery or Les Paul did, but for the guitar music that I'm hearing now days, I don't think Les had any concept of what he was bringing to the market.

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I experimented with a electronic capo pedal because we leave no gap between songs in my band and we play in some god-awful keys. I was disappointed in the pedal, to say the least.

 

With the pedal, I heard the digital footprints of the technology, there was a slight latency in playing and hearing and the capo or alternate tuning functions sounded distorted, (like the electronics sense the wrong note and 'almost' instantaneously adjust the output tone, but you hear the shift). My sense was that it would work okay for heavy metal, or slide guitar, and may actually work really well for death metal with it's distorted droning tones, but not very well for blues, rock or clean. I took the pedal back and bought a really nice manual capo.

 

I think that the guitar in the video sounds 'off' as well; the tone to me is not pleasant, especially when he was toying with alternate tunings.

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I think that the guitar in the video sounds 'off' as well; the tone to me is not pleasant, especially when he was toying with alternate tunings.

 

 

with the amount of krap Vai has in his signal path, you'd be hard pressed to notice anything but a crushing wall of sound washing over you.

 

if that's you're thing, great... like I said, 2 songs, and I've heard all I need to hear for the day from these guys.

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