Gibson has a new digital Les Paul guitar coming in April:
- The first run of 3,000 instruments will retail for about $2,600 each.
It looks, sounds and acts like a Les Paul, but it’s not. The technology in the standard electric guitar dates to the 1920s, with few major changes. The electric guitar is monophonic: The sound from each of the six guitar strings is “picked up” and sent as an analog signal to devices such as amplifiers and receivers.
Gibson’s new offering uses digital technology to separate the sound from each string and send out a digital signal that can be manipulated with reverb, distortion, coloration and other effects. Output is through an Ethernet cable with multichannel capabilities, which eliminates the sound interference associated with conventional audio cable, Gibson chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz said.
“We bring more of what you’re actually doing as a player through superior electronics. It makes the Les Paul more of a Les Paul, not something different or enhanced,” he said. “If I’m a good player, I will sound better and be able to translate more of my style to the audience, and that’s what music is about.”
The problem is, nothing else works with it, said George Gruhn, a guitar store owner in Nashville.
“I don’t have an amplifier it would be compatible with. And 99% of guitars people play could be plugged into an amp Leo Fender made in 1944,” he said. [USA Today]
Ah yes, the old compatibility issue. But wait, it comes with a converter:
- There is no standard yet for digitized music, but Juszkiewicz predicts that within five years, 95% of instruments will be digital, including guitars priced at less than $100. Until then, Gibson’s digital guitar will come with a converter to make it compatible with current analog equipment.
The microprocessor board also will be sold as a kit so that players can retrofit guitars, Juszkiewicz said. Transferability means players can easily upgrade as Gibson develops new features and protocol.
So, um, why buy it now? Just playing devil’s advocate.
More on the new guitar from the Gibson site here.