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Gibson's Self-Tuning Guitar
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abe
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Dec 9, 2007, 05:56 AM
 
Gibson's Self-Tuning Guitar

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A new line features advanced electronics that automatically tune the instrument.

By John Borland

It's every guitar player's nightmare: you step onstage, strike your rock-god pose, triumphantly strum the first chord of a song--and discover that your guitar is out of tune.

A new line of instruments from Gibson Guitar now promises to banish this scenario to the dark ages with high-tech self-tuning technology built into the company's flagship electric-guitar models.

The idea is drawing both kudos and criticism from guitar professionals and purists. On blogs and forums around the Web, some players call it an inexcusable crutch for sloppy players. Others, particularly those who use different tunings for different songs, say it could be a godsend.
Images and more at the link.

Technology Review: Gibson's Self-Tuning Guitar

Posted for all guitar players, but particularly to Kevin.

Kevin, is this a gimmick or something that is good for music?
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analogika
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Dec 9, 2007, 06:05 AM
 
Anything you're gonna bolt onto a resonant body is going to affect the sound in some way.
     
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Dec 9, 2007, 07:50 AM
 
The bit of the guitar world where you have to tune your strings more than once every six months is completely alien to me. Like a Mac, my guitars "just work". Stick the strings on, stretch 'em properly and there ya go - no need to tune until the next string change.
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
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Laminar
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Dec 9, 2007, 10:35 AM
 
Others, particularly those who use different tunings for different songs, say it could be a godsend.
That why you have a guitar tech to bring you your other guitar between songs.
     
analogika
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Dec 9, 2007, 11:45 AM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
That why you have a guitar tech to bring you your other guitar between songs.
If you can actually afford a guitar tech, that is...
     
Jawbone54
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Dec 9, 2007, 11:51 AM
 
I'm really not sure how I feel about this.

Isn't it part of the relationship a guitarist has with his guitar? Is it just an instrument, or is it something to grow familiar with as an extension of your body? Does tuning help nurture that connection?
     
Doofy
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Dec 9, 2007, 12:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by analogika View Post
If you can actually afford a guitar tech, that is...
And if you can't, that's what girlfriends are for.

Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
I'm really not sure how I feel about this.

Isn't it part of the relationship a guitarist has with his guitar? Is it just an instrument, or is it something to grow familiar with as an extension of your body? Does tuning help nurture that connection?
Interesting point.

For me, turning an off-the-shelf guitar into an instrument is sort of a small part of the process. You know, setting the action and neck relief and suchlike. To my mind, familiarity mostly comes from playing the thing and actually leaving some skin on that fretboard*.
But then again, I may be unusual - like I said I don't tune up that often, don't need to.

(* Explanation, sort of: In the original traditional of eastern martial arts there were no belt colours. Everyone was given a white belt when they started and the transition to a black belt came from the fact that nobody was supposed to wash their belts - to do so would remove the "chi" from it. So, the more time you put into it, the more sweat ended up on the belt and the dirtier/blacker it would become. I tend to think this way with guitars and their fingerboards - I call it "shred-fu".)
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Dec 9, 2007, 01:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
In the original traditional of eastern martial arts there were no belt colours. Everyone was given a white belt when they started and the transition to a black belt came from the fact that nobody was supposed to wash their belts - to do so would remove the "chi" from it. So, the more time you put into it, the more sweat ended up on the belt and the dirtier/blacker it would become. I tend to think this way with guitars and their fingerboards - I call it "shred-fu".
I like this story. I'm stealing it.
     
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Dec 9, 2007, 02:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by Jawbone54 View Post
I like this story. I'm stealing it.
No you're not - you're buying it. $5 to your favourite kiddie's charity is the correct licence fee.
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Dec 9, 2007, 02:23 PM
 
BS. I especially disagree with the "favorite guitar" part. I've been a paid, gigging musician for almost 20 years, and my "favorite guitar" is the one that works best with the tone I want for whatever song I'm doing. If I want chunk and meat, I'm using my 88 Les Paul. If I need twang, I'm grabbing one of my Telecasters. If I want blues, I'm going for my Strat, etc., etc.
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Dec 9, 2007, 04:50 PM
 
I definitely see how this could be nice if you're using a single guitar for an entire set and need to change the tuning between songs (assuming it has multiple pre-sets), but otherwise I guess I'd fall on the purist side by seeing it as a bit of an abomination. Sure there are some exceptions (like Beethoven, who obviously no one could expect to tune his own instruments despite his musical genius), but in general I don't see how you could consider yourself to be much of a musician if you can't tune your own instrument. I've always tuned all my instruments (saxophones, trumpets, and guitars) by ear.
     
analogika
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Dec 9, 2007, 04:59 PM
 
You've obviously never played (let alone tuned) a piano.
     
nonhuman
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Dec 9, 2007, 05:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by analogika View Post
You've obviously never played (let alone tuned) a piano.
I played when I was younger, but you're right that I've never tuned. I'd like to learn though, I think I'd enjoy it

But I wouldn't hold piano players to the same standard of having to tune their own instruments. That would be somewhat ridiculous, especially as they'll often be performing on someone else's instrument.
     
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Dec 9, 2007, 06:29 PM
 
This is easy to tune:
     
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Dec 9, 2007, 07:37 PM
 
"Everything's so clear to me now: I'm the keeper of the cheese and you're the lemon merchant. Get it? And he knows it.
That's why he's gonna kill us. So we got to beat it. Yeah. Before he let's loose the marmosets on us."
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jokell82
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Dec 9, 2007, 10:34 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
This is easy to tune:
Ew - a fake keytar. At least if you're gonna post a pic of a keytar, post a real one:


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Laminar
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Dec 10, 2007, 01:05 AM
 
Originally Posted by jokell82 View Post
Ew - a fake keytar.
You mean a keytar I built with my own hands and played on stage tonight.
     
analogika
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Dec 10, 2007, 03:49 AM
 
Considering that thing doesn't produce any sound, it shouldn't be too difficult to tune.

Hook it up via MIDI/CV to a *real* synthesizer and get back to me when you've figured out how to calibrate that.
     
Laminar
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Dec 10, 2007, 10:10 AM
 
Originally Posted by analogika View Post
Considering that thing doesn't produce any sound, it shouldn't be too difficult to tune.

Hook it up via MIDI/CV to a *real* synthesizer and get back to me when you've figured out how to calibrate that.
Meh...Garageband is good enough for me. Plus it now has a bunch of LEDs in the empty space in the neck.
     
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Dec 10, 2007, 12:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
The bit of the guitar world where you have to tune your strings more than once every six months is completely alien to me. Like a Mac, my guitars "just work". Stick the strings on, stretch 'em properly and there ya go - no need to tune until the next string change.
What are you talking about? The Guitar Hero guitar is not a real guitar.
     
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Dec 10, 2007, 12:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by Steve Bosell View Post
What are you talking about? The Guitar Hero guitar is not a real guitar.
I'm talking about how my guitars...



...stay in tune for six months at a time because they're not Gibsons.

I mean, you're gonna need some kind of fancy digital tuning stuff built-in if your guitars aren't designed properly, no?
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Dec 10, 2007, 01:49 PM
 
Everybody knows *real* hair-metal guitarists play Pacificas.
     
Kevin
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Dec 10, 2007, 01:53 PM
 
My guitars rarely go out of tune either. But I set them up properly.
     
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Dec 10, 2007, 01:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by analogika View Post
Everybody knows *real* hair-metal guitarists play Pacificas.
Damn, must sell up and get me some of them then.
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Dec 10, 2007, 02:14 PM
 
Hey, I have a Pacifica. Ain't that bad.
     
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Dec 10, 2007, 02:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
The bit of the guitar world where you have to tune your strings more than once every six months is completely alien to me. Like a Mac, my guitars "just work". Stick the strings on, stretch 'em properly and there ya go - no need to tune until the next string change.
I don't think my guitar has ever been in tune.
     
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Dec 10, 2007, 04:02 PM
 
I have an Aria Diamond slim hollow body with a Bigsby style vibrato. Nothing in the world could keep it from going out of tune. I never use the vibrato, so I'm (still) looking for a proper tailpiece for it.
     
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Dec 11, 2007, 10:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
My guitars rarely go out of tune either. But I set them up properly.
Sorry, any guitar that is actually played will go out of tune, regardless of Floyd Rose, setup, brand, ect. If it is a museum peace in the corner of a room in your house, than maybe it can stay in tune for six months, but if the guitar is in and out of its case, and played will go out of tune. This guitar is designed for a practicing musician who actually plays shows, and would be extremely useful.
     
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Dec 11, 2007, 11:01 AM
 
I've been playing/gigging for 20 years, and all 12 of my gits go out of tune from time to time, from Gibsons to Fenders to Taylors to Reverends, etc., etc.
"Everything's so clear to me now: I'm the keeper of the cheese and you're the lemon merchant. Get it? And he knows it.
That's why he's gonna kill us. So we got to beat it. Yeah. Before he let's loose the marmosets on us."
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Dec 11, 2007, 11:52 AM
 
Originally Posted by Steve Bosell View Post
Sorry, any guitar that is actually played will go out of tune, regardless of Floyd Rose, setup, brand, ect. If it is a museum peace in the corner of a room in your house, than maybe it can stay in tune for six months, but if the guitar is in and out of its case, and played will go out of tune.
Well, if you're only used to Gibsons and other "old" designs, you would say that. Like a Windows-only user who thinks that all computers have driver problems.
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Dec 11, 2007, 11:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
The bit of the guitar world where you have to tune your strings more than once every six months is completely alien to me. Like a Mac, my guitars "just work". Stick the strings on, stretch 'em properly and there ya go - no need to tune until the next string change.
You are the reason why these guitars exist. People who think guitars' tuning don't move in 6 months. :-)
     
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Dec 11, 2007, 11:44 PM
 
Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
My guitars rarely go out of tune either. But I set them up properly.
It's kinda like saying I got a perfect haircut today, I will never need an haircut again...

Dude, it's NOT the guitar, it's the STRINGS!!!! They are under a lot of tension, they age, they WILL get out of tune. But then some people can't hear it.
     
Kevin
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Dec 12, 2007, 12:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by Tiresias View Post
I don't think my guitar has ever been in tune.
If it's a well made guitar then..

1. Get new strings.
2. If you can't set it up properly have someone set it up.

I have a floyd rose tremolo system. Most people refer to it as being one of the hardest bridges to setup. But once you do, it rarely goes out of tune. I can make the strings so slack the flap on the fretboard, bring in back into standard pitch and it still plays in perfect tuning.

Another important thing is, make sure it's INTONATED correctly. Or your guitar wont play in tune throughout the neck.

I can play an open chord on the lower registers and it plays in tune. ANd then can make said chord on the 19th fret and it still play in tune. Intonation is the key. And with a proper tuner, it's not hard to set up.
Originally Posted by Steve Bosell View Post
Sorry, any guitar that is actually played will go out of tune, regardless of Floyd Rose, setup, brand, ect. If it is a museum peace in the corner of a room in your house, than maybe it can stay in tune for six months, but if the guitar is in and out of its case, and played will go out of tune.
Hmm I said my guitars rarely go out of tune, and you replied to my post as if I said guitars never went out of tune....

Of course they go out of tune. I can't think of an instrument that does not (that isn't electronic... and even those used to "drift") Or tuners wouldn't be needed.

A well set up guitar will go out of tune less frequently than one "out of the box" however.
I rarely have any tuning problems, so this guitar is really of no use to me esp since I am not a fan of the LesPaul..
This guitar is designed for a practicing musician who actually plays shows, and would be extremely useful.
I've gone through shows and not had my guitar go out of tune plenty. And I've been abusive to the trem during said shows.
Originally Posted by villalobos View Post
You are the reason why these guitars exist. People who think guitars' tuning don't move in 6 months.
I am not sure about his six month claim. But a PROPERLY set up guitar WILL stay in tune a long time.

I also find that a lot of people put TOO MUCH pressure on their strings/pic while playing. Which WILL cause it to go out of tune easier. And cause string breakage. (I've never had a string break on me when while I was playing) Me and Doofy was talking about it. A lighter touch is all that is needed. Or warranted. I taught a guy how to play fast because he couldn't do it no matter how badly he tried. HE ALSO had tuning problems. But I come to find out he thought fast = hard playing. It's simply not true. I taught him about muting and percussive sounds while barely even touching the strings. This is not only more efficient, it makes the notes sound more musical, and less jabby. More flowing like a horned instrument.
Originally Posted by villalobos View Post
It's kinda like saying I got a perfect haircut today, I will never need an haircut again...
Well Jimmy Page has been playing the same LesPaul for how many decades?
Dude, it's NOT the guitar, it's the STRINGS!!!! They are under a lot of tension, they age, they WILL get out of tune. But then some people can't hear it.
Again, I am not saying guitars don't go out of tune. What I am saying is, mine don't go out of tune to the point where it's a problem for me. No more than a piano would be.

Again, a properly set up guitar should NOT be going out of tune often. If it does, there is either something wrong with the guitar, or the technique the player is using.

It's not magic or alchemy me and Doof are using.
( Last edited by Kevin; Dec 12, 2007 at 12:43 PM. )
     
Kevin
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Dec 12, 2007, 12:35 PM
 
Originally Posted by abe View Post
Kevin, is this a gimmick or something that is good for music?
Not a gimmick, and I could see how this could revolutionize tuning in the near future. It wont be mainstream yet however. I wonder if it has any effect on tone or playability. I wonder how it would work on floating trems and the like. (Not having a floating tremolo to me is like an artist not having all the colors to his disposal when painting)

Having said that, Gibson is probably over-charging for it, and probably puts it on mediocre LesPauls that go down the line. I'd rather buy a decent stock or used LesPaul (if you like LesPauls) and have it installed.
( Last edited by Kevin; Dec 12, 2007 at 12:45 PM. )
     
Doofy
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Dec 12, 2007, 01:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
I am not sure about his six month claim.
'Tis true. The orange '89 had a new set of strings on Christmas last year. Bedded the strings in, tuned, then played. It's had about five hours a day on it for the first six months of the year then it went in its case (since the newbies started turning up in June, I've been playing them). Got it out of its case the other day and found that the A was about 10 cents flat (but then it has fallen on its face three times - in the case - in the last couple of months due to energetic cats... could have rubbed the fine tuners up against the inside of the case). No other tuning drift at all.
For the past 15 years or so, this has just been a normal thing for me. Hence the whole concept of tuning guitars all the time being alien to me.

Bearing in mind, of course, that the '89 has been with me since '89 and had a lot of setup done on it. Setup on a newbie tends to last a year before it's properly sorted - I like bedding stuff in properly.

Mind you, having said that, my main newbie yellow ("Las Vegas" - yep, from the dwarf) was strung and tuned once out of the box and I don't think I've tuned it since (and of course, I'm buffering through a tuner while I play). It's currently getting about four hours a day. I expect that they'll do even better with tuning stability once properly sorted, what with the titanium neck rods and stuff.

Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
I also find that a lot of people put TOO MUCH pressure on their strings/pic while playing. Which WILL cause it to go out of tune easier.
Interestingly, I've just remembered something which is related to this. I absolutely never let anyone else play my guitars. Over time this has just become something akin to "touching a man's guitar is like touching his woman/wang" sort of thing. But when I think back to why I initially started doing this it's basically because every time anybody else touches my planks, I do tend to get 'em back slightly out of tune. So yep, that does suggest that playing technique is important.

Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
And cause string breakage. (I've never had a string break on me when while I was playing)
I've never broken a string whilst playing either.
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Kevin
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Dec 12, 2007, 02:46 PM
 
Oh I wasn't doubting your 6 month claim. I am just saying I couldn't say anything or comment on it since I've never experienced it. But I don't doubt it, esp with Ibanez trems.

As far as breaking strings, I don't anymore. Used to a lot when I first started playing, but I hit them too hard, or striked them in the wrong place.

I haven't broken a string in a looooong time. They go dead first.

I usually buy new strings at least once a month. If not sooner.
     
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Dec 12, 2007, 03:09 PM
 
45/47
     
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Dec 12, 2007, 03:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
Oh I wasn't doubting your 6 month claim.
I know, I know - you know what these things can do. I'm just fleshing it out for the benefit of the doubters. You know, those whose bridges slop about if they haven't bought a TonePros replacement.
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Dec 12, 2007, 03:34 PM
 
TonePros are awesome. So are locking studs on the Edge and LoPros. WHICH BTW I hear Ibanez is bring back on the EdgePro... Ibanez is the only Floyd type trem that came with them. Big improvement over the original design IMHO. I always felt Ibanez's Floyd copies were an VAST improvement over the original design. From the push in arm that didn't strip out, to the locking studs, to the more ergonomic and less "blocky" feel. That is also why I am more of a fan of the LoPro when compared to the original Edge. More ergonomic. The EdgePro is even more so, but without the locking studs it's not as stable. Rich over at ibanezrulezandIamgreatsodonteverarguewithme.com sells them for EdgePro users. So you get the best of both worlds.

I also hear there will be a MIJ S series in 2008... hopefully something not lame. And something without a ZR. But I wont get my hopes up.

I already have a S I like so..

I actually need to get it refretted.
     
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Dec 12, 2007, 05:23 PM
 
I got to play one yesterday. I didn't think I was going to like it, but it really is a pretty nice guitar. The tuning knob mechanism is quite unobtrusive and it is much lighter than I thought. The design is very clean and the finish is sort of like a '70s Vette paint job. This thing makes tuning to an open G in a group of other players very easy. I think Gibson pulled it off.
     
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Dec 12, 2007, 05:33 PM
 
Originally Posted by Sherman Homan View Post
I got to play one yesterday. I didn't think I was going to like it, but it really is a pretty nice guitar. The tuning knob mechanism is quite unobtrusive and it is much lighter than I thought. The design is very clean and the finish is sort of like a '70s Vette paint job. This thing makes tuning to an open G in a group of other players very easy. I think Gibson pulled it off.
And this would be great I guess if you liked playing LesPauls. I LOVE the sound of them, but I hate everything else about them.

The fat necks, the scale length, the uncomfortable playing when sitting down/standing up. The heaviness of them. The 4 knob setup, no floating trem, 3 on each side headstock.. I could go on.

I am not trying to say LesPauls suck. They don't. They just aren't for me. And this isn't the first guitar Gibson has put out that was self tuning. It just wasn't as slick as this version was.

Page used to use a LesPaul that Gibson made that stored all his tunings. Now I see THAT as being beneficial. But does it also adjust intonation? It doesn't matter if your open strings are in tune if the fretted ones aren't. Here is said guitar



I am curious about this.
     
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Dec 13, 2007, 12:01 AM
 
Originally Posted by Kevin View Post

Well Jimmy Page has been playing the same LesPaul for how many decades?
I was talking about the tuning part!! I am sure he tuned it a zillion times since, and changed strings very often. This said, although i am skeptical about a guitar not getting out of tune in 6 months, it's probable that steel strings handle the tuning better than the nylon strings I use on my guitar. I definitely positively HAVE to tune my guitar at the very least every 3-4 days, and have been for the 20+ years I have been playing. But then I can't stand an ever so slightly out-of-tune guitar : which is why I welcome this invention BTW. :-)
     
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Dec 13, 2007, 07:00 AM
 
Originally Posted by villalobos View Post
But then I can't stand an ever so slightly out-of-tune guitar : which is why I welcome this invention BTW. :-)
Go buy one of these then and you'll be even more in tune than you probably would with that Gibson invention.
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
That's where there's thunder... and the wind shouts back.
     
RAILhead
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Dec 13, 2007, 08:04 AM
 
I {heart} my StroboStomp...

"Everything's so clear to me now: I'm the keeper of the cheese and you're the lemon merchant. Get it? And he knows it.
That's why he's gonna kill us. So we got to beat it. Yeah. Before he let's loose the marmosets on us."
my bandmy web sitemy guitar effectsmy photosfacebookbrightpoint
     
Doofy
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Dec 13, 2007, 08:16 AM
 
Sweet board RAIL.
Been inclined to wander... off the beaten track.
That's where there's thunder... and the wind shouts back.
     
Chongo
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Dec 13, 2007, 08:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
But does it also adjust intonation? It doesn't matter if your open strings are in tune if the fretted ones aren't
Gibson Robot Guitar

Select the instructions video and goes through the intonation process.
45/47
     
villalobos
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Dec 13, 2007, 09:11 AM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Go buy one of these then and you'll be even more in tune than you probably would with that Gibson invention.
It's not my guitar's tuning which bothers me... :-)
     
   
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