Gibson Debuts New Dark Fire Robot Guitar

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Games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band might be planting the seeds for a whole new generation of musicians…and venerable guitar maker Gibson wants to be out there with technology that will appeal to the digital generation. To that end, the company has just introduced Dark Fire, a second-generation of its Robot Guitar product line—introduced a year ago and updated last April—that features a motorized tuner setup that can both tune the guitar to pitch, but also switch between tunings one the fly, letting players quickly move from standard tuning to things like Drop D and DADGAD without (ahem) missing a lick.

The new Dark Fire model is also based on Gibson’s classic Les Paul solidbody electric guitar design, and features significantly faster motorized tuners so the guitar can move between preset tunings in less than one second—and the battery can handle up to 500 tuning changes on a single charge, so even pros will need only, oh, five or six of these things to get through a 90-minute set. The guitar also includes a separate piezo pickup in the bridge so players can switch to (or blend) an “acoustic” tone in with their electric guitar sounds, adding greater tonal flexibility. The guitar also comes with a Robot Interface Pack (RIP), which offers two 1/4-inch line outs, a FireWire connector for hooking up to a PC or MAc, and a hex connector (Gibson’s long-percolating Magic technology) that carries the output of each individual string plus piezo output, which enables each string to be routed to its own 1/4-inch output. A MIDI option is also available.

Gibson is promising Dark Fire-specific audio gear is on the way, including Bluetooth technology designed to get sound from the Dark Fire to a computer.

Gibson plans to launch the Dark Fire on December 15, and has not yet released pricing information on the instruments. Owners of Gibson’s earlier Robot Guitar models will be able to upgrade to Dark Fire specs at a price “very close to cost.”