Acoustic Synthesis: Moog Guitar Technology Enters The Acoustic Realm

String Spectrum, Paul Vo, Moog Guitar, Acoustic Synthesis

From the inventor of the Moog Guitar comes an entirely new sound technology: Acoustic Synthesis.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Moog Guitar? If you haven’t, you may have already heard it without knowing if you’ve listened to Brian Eno’s latest album LUX.

The Moog Guitar was the newest innovation in acoustic technology to appear in recent years. It uses what Moog calls a Harmonic Control System to actuate the strings (or mute them), offering infinite sustain, at all points on every string, at any volume. This results in synth-like string tones that sound completely unique.

Now, Paul Vo has taken this idea one step further. Acoustic Synthesis occurs in the physical realm, creating an otherworldly sound which emanates from the strings themselves. His system is add-on hardware that can potentially be fitted to any string instrument. The possibilities are truly mind-bending.

Vo-96, Paul Vo, Moog Guitar, Acoustic Synthesis

Photos courtesy

Check out this demo of the Vo-96 on an acoustic guitar:

Will Rayan and Vincent Crow of The Electric Jazz Project demonstrate the Vo-96 Acoustic Synth

And while we’re at it, why not take a look at the Moog Guitar and an early FRETLESS prototype, courtesy of experimentalsynth‘s Chris Stack (via createdigitalmusic). Gahhhhhhhh:

What stringed instrument would you hook the Vo-96 up to?


Kaki King, an old friend of mine and a true guitar virtuoso, has been beta testing the Vo-96 at live shows:

Kaki trying out the Moog guitar for the first time at the Moog Factory:


Orange OPC: A Computer/Amplifier Mashup

Orange, Orange Amplifier, Orange Personal Computer, Orange PC, Orange OPC, OPC


The Orange OPC is a strange beast indeed. What we have here is a classic Orange Amplifier exterior, but instead of tubes and all that good stuff, they PUT A COMPUTER INSIDE. Yes, you read that right. Yup. MIND BLOWN.

It’s hard to get your head around the idea of an amp company building personal computers, but the more you think about it, the OPC starts to make sense. This is a machine for a guitarist that just wants to make some music, like NOW. If you’re cool with an all-in-one-stop-shopping solution, then you’re all set.

The OPC is packed with a solid state Orange amplifier and a stereo pair of JBL 6.5″ studio reference speakers. The dedicated audio interface has guitar/bass & mic jacks that provide 24bit recording with only 1ms of latency. There is also 5.1 surround support and a way to plug your iPod/MP3 player directly to the speakers, bypassing everything else.

Then there is the actual computer part of the thing. The OPC features the Intel Core series i3 processor (i5 and i7 options also available). A 7200RPM/500GB hard drive sits inside a thick rubber shock resistant mounting, which fits full size desktop or laptop sized drives. There is built in Wireless-N and Ethernet, and a slot-loading DVD drive. The AMD Radeon 7750 graphics card is good enough for gamers and includes 1 VGA and 2 HDMI outputs. If you feel like upgrading, all the parts are easily accessed and swappable. Best of all, the OPC comes preloaded with an interesting selection of music software: Amplitube 3 with (additional Orange Amplifier models), Presonus Studio One (Orange Edition), Acoustica Mixcraft 5, Toontrack EZdrummer Lite, and LickLibrary Guitar Lesson Center with pre-loaded video guitar lessons! The OPC is a Windows 7 machine, but let’s not hold that against it (while I do use PC I’m still a Mac snob at heart); it seems like a pretty complete package for someone who wants to get into guitar and digital music production.

Orange, Orange Amplifier, Orange Personal Computer, Orange PC, Orange OPC, OPC Orange, Orange Amplifier, Orange Personal Computer, Orange PC, Orange OPC, OPC

The OPC will be available by end of April for $1,125 and can be ordered from Orange in the US.

Eventide H9 Harmonizer Packs Tons Of Classic Effects Into One Bluetooth Controlled Stompbox

Eventide, H9 Harmonizer, Bluetooth, guitar pedal

The trend of tech getting ever smaller is unmistakable. From Malekko’s super slim Omicron Series to the newly announced Dunlop Mini Fuzz Face, the guitar world is wisely following suit.

nano guitar

We’d better all start buying nano-machines like yesterday – this nano-guitar is already old news!

Eventide’s pedals have always been beasts – maybe a little TOO feature full and just a tad too big to fit comfortably on your pedal board.

The H9 solves the size problem, while only adding to the sonic mayhem. You see, Eventide has decided to go truly digital, pioneering the iOS-to-guitar pedal phenomenon and offering a true marriage of hardware and software. With its single knob, streamlined, HAL-esque interface, the H9 can run ALL of Eventide’s famous stompbox effects. All of the sound editing controls are still there – just tucked away into software. Connect wirelessly via Bluetooth with an iPod, iPhone or iPad, and you’re not only able to fully control the H9, you’re ready to download MOAR SOUNDZ (available through in-app purchase) to add to the already impressive collection included right out of the box:


From ModFactor:

Liquid Chorus
Organic Chorus
Shimmer Chorus
Classic Chorus
Phase XO Chorus
Bias Tremolo
Opto Tremolo


From PitchFactor:


From TimeFactor:
Tape Echo
Vintage Delay


From Space:


Plus a new H9 exclusive:
UltraTap Delay™


While the H9 is fully controllable via its front panel, a free iOS app, H9 Control, can be downloaded to your iPhone or iPad for live editing, creating and managing presets and changing system settings wirelessly via Bluetooth. H9 Control will also be available for your PC or Mac via USB.

The H9 features stereo audio I/O, MIDI I/O, Expression Pedal, and Auxiliary Switch inputs. All of Eventide’s stompbox algorithms and their associated presets are available for in-app purchase.

Eventide H9 Harmonizer will be available in March of 2013 through authorized Eventide stompbox dealers.

Fender Pawn Shop Series Takes You Back To A Past That Never Was

Fender Pawn Shop, Super-Sonic, reverse Jazzmaster,

The Fender Pawn Shop Series was designed to evoke the quirk of an old frankenstein guitar you’d find in the dusty corner of a store in some rundown town on say, Route 66 – an instrument thrown together from spare parts that is not quite right, but too unique to pass up.

I love Fender’s tagline “guitars that never were but should have been,” like they were pulled from a portal of yesteryear on some other dimensional plane.

This year, they’ve added a few more monsters to the maladjusted Pawn Shop family closet: the ’70s Strat Deluxe, featuring a Telecaster single-coil neck pickup and an Enforcer™ Wide Range humbucking bridge pickup, the  reversed Jazzmaster-styled Super-Sonic, the racing-striped Mustang Bass, and a totally re-imagined version of the long-gone Bass VI, equipped with a combo of Special Design Hot Jaguar® single-coil neck and middle pickups and a deceptively soapbar-shaped humbucking JZHB pickup in the bridge position.

Check out these demos and gorgeous brochure:


70’s Stratocaster Deluxe

Bass VI

Mustang Bass


Also new to the Pawn Shop Series is the Excelsior amp, which has had me drooling for weeks.
Fender Pawnshop, Excelsior, tube amp

This ultra-stylish little tube queen is welcome in my bedroom, studio or perched atop my gig-rig anyday. I can’t wait to actually get my hands on one to try.

The Excelsior is decked out in an open-back vinyl covered cabinet housing a 15″ Eminence® Legend speaker, and comes in Surf Green (my favorite of course), Sonic Blue, Antique Blush (creamy beige), or good old Brown. It’s a 13 watter, featuring dual 12AX7 preamp tubes, dual 6V6 output tubes, and three separate inputs for guitar, microphone, or accordion (super popular with the kids these days). For sonic fun, there is a tremolo circuit with speed control, and a bright/dark tone switch for treble or bass oomph. You can also take advantage of the 1/4” internal speaker disconnect to run out to an external speaker.

To sum it up: YUM.

And while it’s not exactly new, the little sister named “Greta” is just too cute to be ignored.
Fender Pawnshop, Greta, tube amp

This 2 watt tabletop tube amp with a 4″ speaker, VU meter, and elegant gold stylings might just take the cake as far as this whole pawn shop design thing goes. It’s loaded with a 12AT7 output tube, 12AX7 preamp tube, 1/4″ in and 1/4″ line out jack (so you can use her as a preamp before another amplifier), another 1/4″ external speaker out jack, and finally an 1/8″ line-in if you feel like hearing your ipod through a vintage sounding mono tube amp!

Ah, if only I could afford to adopt the whole damn family!

Tele Tuesday: Introducing the Fender Telecaster Thinline Super Deluxe

Happy Tele Tuesday! Time to talk about the gorgeous new limited edition Fender Telecaster Thinline Super Deluxe.

This super slick semi hollow basswood bodied Telecaster is decked out with double binding, a single f-hole, and a C-shaped maple neck with bone nut, 21 wide vintage-style frets and a 7.25”-radius bound rosewood fingerboard with pearloid block inlays. It comes in either Olympic white with gold hardware or black with chrome, and features a vintage-style Stratocaster hard-tail bridge.

The Thinline Super Deluxe is outfitted with a pair of Fideli’tron humbucker pickups, which are said to be “more single coil sounding than Filtertrons,’ according to Andertons Music. Andertons pitted the recently released solid body Fender Cabronita Telecaster against a Gretsch Electromatic Pro Jet and opined that the Fideli’trons suited the Tele better than Filtertrons would. I would love to get my hands on this sexy new Thinline and hear how the Fideli’trons perform vs. Filtertrons in a semi-hollow body.

One thing that would take this guitar over the top would be the addition of a Bigsby Vibrato, in my opinion, but otherwise it is seriously smokin’.


Misa Muse

I have never been able to get into Muse. That’s right I said it. I don’t get it. They’ve always seemed like Radiohead lite to me, and now they’re doing this U2 lite thing and for some reason kids are buying it.

I did catch their appearance on SNL last night however and was reminded of a very cool albeit super nerdy guitar innovation called the Misa Kitara. I’d seen it in youtube demos before but never in actual rock action.

It’s kind of like a Ztar but with a touchscreen. So instead of plucking strings you basically coax your sounds iPhone style. It’s got audio AND MIDI out, synth effects, and all sorts of nerdy goodness that should make more than one keytarluster salivate.

Bass dude from Muse had one of these bad boys in double neck bass form with an analog bass on the other side to boot. So I guess Muse gets geek points at least.


Straight Talk: Pedalphilia

I think it’s time to shed some light on an epidemic that is sweeping the world by storm, turning good hard working people into ravenous PEDALPHILES, lusting over guitar pedals day and night.

Much more insidious yet some might say just as addictive as crack cocaine, this addiction can start with a seemingly harmless gateway guitar effect, such as a Boss DS-1, and before you know it you’ve converted most if not all of your liquid funds into an endless array of sonic merrymakers. From the mundane to the wildly unnecessary, these little boxes of joy can worm their way into the hearts of even the most “plug straight into yer amp” purists who now all of a sudden want to be the next Kevin Shields.


But rather then go the autobiographical route, let’s instead consider the case of a young man, we’ll call him G, though he prefers to be referred to as ‘Lil Moses.’ Once a most prolific and creative writer, G now finds himself uncontrollably slavering over guitar pedals. He sends me multiple emails a day describing pedals for sale all over the net.

Exhibit A – witness the most recent post from G’s blog:

Not to get everyone too excited….but I have a pedalboard. The Pedaltrain Jr. Not so big, not so small. Enough for a Crybaby, my fuzz/overdrive and a booster, tremolo and a delay–and maybe a beer cozy?

And I realized something hunting down delays the other day that I thought was amazing and important to share.

You know, I’m not a delay type person. I just want a little slap back for solos and some ambient stuff that is light. But Lordy did I try a lot of them! Did you know that there’s a used Fulltone Tape Echo at Guitar Center for about $900. It sounded amazing. But not practical at all if I’m also going to have a beer cozy on the floor when I gig.

That is the sound. And if you can’t get analog tape because its not practical to gig with? Who emulates it the best? I came across the Strymon El Capistan and it does sound oh-so-gooey and good.

From what I understand, the thing that separates a good tape emulator from a bad one is how close it can mimic the residue sound of the analog tape with “wow and flutter” which is almost like a modulation of the trailing delayed notes that you hear in real tape. Some sound real good like El Capistan. Some use a chorus type modulation or vibrato, like Electro Harmonix, and that sounds odd. Even the Empress Vintage Mod thing or Wampler, not so good for my ears.

The thing about tape echoes, is that they are so ethereal and gritty at the same time. I don’t know how else to describe it, but if sexual asphyxiation had a sound–no, not the muffled sound, but what the experience seeks to achieve–this would be it, aurally.

And i want that sound. Oh do I ever. I don’t want the sexual asphyxiation so much.

And after trying out different pedals, and not really being sold on any, I realized I’ve got this Bigsby on the guitar that I rarely use. But that is the sound! That light tremolo, slightly pressing it gives the sound of the modulated tape “wow and flutter” better than anything. (its still early in the game, but I think I’m right about this).

How about that! So I can pick up that TC Electronics Flashback Delay for now, because it sounds fine for the slap back and light ambient stuff, and use the Bigsby for the “wow and flutter.”

Why the Flashback? Its sounds as good as others for subtle use, but also has a looper on it! Like 30 seconds, so that if I hammer it out, I can nail a live situation with Fred where I put down one JB guitar line and play the other on top.


And then I can squash this shopping spree that’s taken over my mind..this is what happens with free time in the Fall. I pedal shop instead of actually practicing to get the sound I need. That, and I watch John Boorman’s Excalibur at least twice.

Oh, I want this:

And thousands more

Best, Me.

Please, if you or someone you know is on this road to nowhere, let them know that with herculean self control and possibly lots of therapy, they too can lead a (relatively) pedal free lifestyle. As a recovering pedalphile, I am now limiting myself to only 5 pedals at a time.

Or on the other hand, if you’d rather say YOLO, go feed the demon with the NYC pedalphile contingent at the CMJ Stompbox Exhibit at Main Drag in Brooklyn Oct.19-20th.

What are Buke and Gase?

(image via

If you haven’t heard, Buke & Gase are a band of two scruffy young instrument builders who happen to rock instruments of the same respective names. Also they are a boy and a girl with the same first name. Confused yet? Ok let’s get this straight. The Buke is a baritone ukulele played by Arone Dyer, who also sings, and the Gase is a guitar/bass hybrid (formerly called the Gass, but that didn’t read well enough with the general public) constructed and played through (also) home-made amps by Aron Sanchez. The duo also plays their own percussion live with their feet. These two first impressed me when they were part of a math-rock band called Hominid, and they’ve taken the complex contra-rhythmic style to the next level with the warm, fuzzy, acoustic stylings of Buke & Gase. Their new digital-only EP Function Falls drops today on Brassland Records. Stream it over at or buy it on bandcamp.

Electrical Guitars

Coincidentally, Electrical Guitar Company uploaded this pic shortly after I mentioned them in an earlier post regarding a steel Jazzmaster. This one is made from shiny aluminum and looks incredible.

Electrical Guitar Co. takes its cues from luthier Travis Bean, crafting aluminum guitars (and some wood/aluminum hybrids) with neck through designs and hand wound alnico pickups. They’ve done custom models for some of my favorite guitarists like King Buzzo of the Melvins, Brent Hinds of Mastodon, and Duane Denison of the Jesus Lizard, and are played by other metal heavyweights like Isis and Torche. Their product roster also includes baritones, basses, and a 12 string bass!

If you are interested in seeing more of their beautiful aluminum creations you should definitely check out Electrical Guitar Co.’s Facebook page, where they have posted pictures of many custom jobs not found on their website. I would love to try this 9 stringer, where the top 3 strings are doubled.

Metal Guitarlust!

This hollow body Steel Jazzmaster loaded with TV Jones pickups is giving me major tone boners!

(more pics of this beauty at

I don’t know how long this guy has been around exactly but I just came across the French luthier Loïc Le Pape, who works exclusively in steel to create some seriously gorgeous guitars. Maybe I’m just a sucker for rusty distressed textures but I haven’t gotten this excited about boutique guitars since discovering Electrical Guitar Co., which uses aluminum to craft their masterpieces.