Thursday, 09 May, 2013 Technology

10 Unusual Hi-Tech Guitars



Ministar guitars are the brainchild of Bob Wiley, and their most prominent features is the design – the fact to outline here is that they're made of just necks with pickups. With the size and price less that any other traditional branded guitar, these models sound just like the big boys. All guitars are made with the use of hard-rock maple and an exclusive Ministar head that has die cast metal machine heads along with precision tuners.

In addition, each high-tech Ministar guitar boasts a battery-powered headphone amp incorporated into the 1.75 inch thick Scamp (Self-Contained-Amp). Each model features its own distortion circuit, which can also function as a direct output for a monitor if played on stage.

The Unlimited

Andrew Penrose and Ari Atkins are two graduates from Stanford University who managed to come up with an electric guitar called "the Unlimited" that one can take anywhere. The guitar is equipped with a built-in, battery-powered amplifier. In addition, the Unlimited boasts smartphone-controlled digital effects. Its frame is made of cast aluminum frame and the front and rear are made in polycarbonate.

Inside the instrument's body one can find a solid state amplifier (max. output 7 watts) along with a 5-inch speaker driver found between two single coil pickups. Both the amplifier and speaker get energy from a built-in Li-ion battery that, according to the developers, allows you to use the guitar for up to 40 hours. You can charge the battery with the help of a standard wall outlet and the included charger. Another interesting feature is that the instrument can be physically connected to the iPhone through a 3.5-mm headphone jack. A special application allows players to mix in digital distortion, delay, reverb, and EQ effects during play.

The iTar

Starr Labs is the company that has been creating the Ztar electronic guitars for over 2 decades and the appearance of the iPad allowed it to come up with a 6-string, 24-fret fingerboard technology. A powerful processor within the popular tablet allowed the developers to come up with a flexible and powerful new digital instrument. New guitar is called the iTar and despite the fact that it won't come supplied with Apple's iPad (obviously) its body will serve as a dock for the tablet. Besides using virtual strings on the iPad to play music, the invention also allows using various apps that open the door to a wide range of features for the instrument.

For instance, users will be able to learning how to play a guitar using onscreen video tuition, or run video imagery in the background during the play. The instrument features an external MIDI connector, an extended-life battery module, and external speakers that offer quality sound. In addition, the company managed to come up with an interactive full RGB LED fingerboard that one can configure based on their taste to generate personalized graphics along the fingerboard.

The Electronic Rock Guitar Shirt

Although this is not an actual guitar, still the Electronic Rock Guitar Shirt features its own mini amplifier, and the wearer can strum the shirt using a special magnetic pick to produce distorted-sounding of an electric guitar. It is thus viable to say that the garment is a musical instrument. Of course you won't be able to produce individual note like Steve Vai, you still get 15 different power cords. Check out the video below to get a better understanding of how the guitar shirt works.

The iDea Ovation

The iDea Ovation guitar represents the analog instrument of choice for a lot of musicians/ In addition, having an incorporated high quality MP3 recorder/player, it provides a direct port into the digital world. It allows songwriters to have a single instrument for recording song ideas, melodies and lyrics. It is possible to record to the device's memory using a built-in microphone, or any audio signal through the auxiliary input. Another interesting feature is that the melding of a MP3 recorder/player also makes the musical instrument a learning tool, featuring pre-installed audio lessons and jam tracks. The user has the possibility to download mixes from recording software, rhythm tracks, or songs that they are willing to learn. These can be played either using the guitar output or headphones. Files located in the iDea one can easily relocate, rename and delete on the desktop computer.


Zivix unveiled the JamStik with the goal of combining a portable device that allows users practice and learn guitar and it was developed for the mobile generation. The gadget is 15 inches (38 cm) long and weights only 24 ounces (0.7 kg). In case you already know how to play the guitar, the tool's 5 frets and light gauge replaceable strings (0.010 - 0.046) allow one to take the guitar with them, anywhere they are. An important thing here is that JamStick is not made to generate sounds. In order to produce beautiful sounds, the user requires an iPhone or iPad with a pre-installed and activated iOS CoreMIDI app or two (Apple's GarageBand, iPolysix and iMS-20 from Korg, Moog's Animoog, or Arctic Synth, for instance).

Due to the fact that the instrument features real strings, the user has the possibility to bend, slide and produce vibrato with them. The upper edge of the guitar (and namely on its body) features a directional control pad that allows extending the pitch further than the obvious limitations of the instrument's neck – simply speaking it plays the role of a virtual capo. The control pad also helps in MIDI function selection and control.


The uniqueness of this guitar lies in the fact that its body was made from carbon fiber. The previous version of Blackbird has had steel strings and was launched onto the market in 2007. After that the developers decided to launch a nylon-string version, which is somewhat bigger. Weighting just 3 pounds, this lightweight acoustic instrument can be taken anywhere. It would be interesting to note that the guitar was designed from the ground up with the help of computer modeling that allowed creating an acoustically effective sound chamber. Due to the fact that carbon fiber is a very tough material, the top of the instrument can be extremely thin, which means better sound. The designer and creator of Blackbird is Joe Luttwak.

Guitar that Acts as Standard Computer Keyboard

David Neevel decided to use Roland GR-33 guitar synth, an Arduino Uno, some electronics and a special code he developed, to turn his Flying V guitar into a keyboard. All the upper mentioned tools allowed the developer to trick his computer into recognizing his guitar as a keyboard. He managed to assign keystrokes, such as letters, numbers, shift and delete keys, to fret positions to each string along the neck.

With the help of a custom code he can direct the signal to close a proper pair of relays when each note is played. Using a ripped out PCB of a USB keyboard, all of that is then sent to keystroke output. The whole system is connected to the USB port of a computer, which in its turn recognizes the system as a standard keyboard.

Unbreakable 3D-Printed Guitar

This is a 3D-printed instrument developed by AweSome Musical Instruments. According to the company this is the world's first commercially available 3D-printed guitar created in the United States. Another interesting claim of the developer is that this guitar is unbreakable. The instrument was created using EOS P730 laser sintering machines, having a build area of 28 x 15 x 23 inches, which makes it possible to produce guitar bodies in one sitting. The body of the AWE-3DG is 1.6-inch (41 mm) thick and the company wouldn't give details oh how it managed to create it. But it is known that the body was 3D-printed with the help of glass-filled nylon. The only thing that has not been created with the help of a 3D printer is the 25.5-inch scale neck. Weighting 6.4 lb (3 kg), the instrument features two standard T.V. Jones PowerTron humbucker pickups, and a T4-Switch located between the volume and tone pots.

Complex 3D-Printed Guitars

Olaf Diegel is a professor of Mechtronics at Massey University's School of Engineering & Advanced Technology in Auckland, New Zealand. He is the author of these incredibly sophisticated and yet elegant 3D-printed guitars equipped with a myriad of small details. According to the developer the core of his instruments is made out of solid nylon, or aluminum-filled nylon.

At the same time one of his latest works features a core made out of wood, which means better control of the resonance and tone, and thus allow the user to do more customization. With the help of a selective laser sintering system, dubbed EOS Formiga P100, Diegel managed to create the Polyamide 2200 or Alumide body in one piece.

In addition, the guitar called The Spider has several artificial arachnids located throughout its web-like lattice. At the same time one will also be able to discover a lot of flowers and insects that hang from the vines. It would be interesting to note that the author designs each guitar in a unique way, which means that each customer receives their own exclusive guitar.

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