If playing Guitar Hero has got you jonesing for the real thing but you don’t think you can quite stand th drudgery of having to tune a guitar for yourself—or if you’re a seasoned pro who’d like to reliably switch between different tunings on the fly, maybe even mid-song—then Gibson‘s new Robot Guitar has got something for you. The guitar integrates servo motors in its tuners derived from robotics technology to enable the guitar to automatically adjust its tuning on the fly, so players no longer have to worry about whether that B or G string is gonna be super-flat after that mind-blowing monster bend. What’s more, a new top-mounted control enables players to switch between up to six alternate tunings on the fly.
“We are very excited about making the world’s first Robot Guitar available to our customers and its ability to offer our customers a remarkable musical experience,” said Gibson chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz, in a statement. “Gibson has always been known for innovation.”
Gibson plans to introduce a special limited edition first run of the Robot Guitar on December 7 (a “day that shall live in infamy”) at 5 P.M. local time at 400 selected dealers around the world; each store will only have ten instruments, and they’ll all be exclusive “blue burst” Les Paul-style guitars.
The Robot Guitar features a push-pull master control knob which serves as both a master volume and a tuning selector. Each of the six tuners has a high-performance servo-motor which can tighten or loosen a string; the strings themselves carry the control signal and power from the guitar’s tailpiece to a control chip in the headstock. When users want to tune up or select an alternate tuning, a quick turn of the master control knob and a single strum can straighten things out. The guitar supports standard tuning, Hendrix tuning (one half-step down from standard tuning), Open E, Drop D, Double Drop D, DADGAD, Open G, and any (reasonable) custom tuning a user wants to program into the guitar. (We like CGDGBD…however, as a Les Paul-style guitar with a 24.75-inch scale, that might not be practical.)
The technology of the Robot Guitar also offers a quick intonation function—a crucial part of the “setup” that many electric guitar players have to have a professional guitar tech do for them. With the master control knob and a simple screwdriver, the guitar can walk players through the process of setting intonation on their own instrument in just a few minutes.
Gibson isn’t disclosing the Robot Guitar’s price tag, but they definitely want people to know that the expect the limited edition Robot Guitars to become collector’s items…and, at the very least, they’re guaranteed to go down in guitar history as an oddity, even if the technology doesn’t go mainstream. “We expect the Gibson Robot Guitar to sell out within hours on December 7th,” said Juszkiewicz, “and have been taking reservations for orders as fast as we can answer the phone lines.” Many vintage Gibson guitars currently carry high values on the collector market.