Save Time & Space With a Self-Tuning Robot Guitar

Save Time & Space With a Self-Tuning Robot Guitar

Jeff Heaton
Sep 20, 2011

Twist, twist, twist...twang. Nope. Twist, twist, twang. Closer. But still no. Do this over and over for six different strings and you've got a tuned guitar. Oh, but that song you really want to play is in some totally different tuning? Get back to twisting and listening. Or buy a bunch of different guitars you keep tuned differently, assuming you have the space in your house for six musical instruments.

Then again you could buy just one self-tuning guitar and save yourself the space and the hassle of retuning your guitar for different songs. Plus it just looks impressive as it tunes itself or sits in your pad like a piece of futuristic, musical art.

Self tuning guitars have existed for decades in one form or another. Some systems take an existing guitar and build the required parts into it. Others are less invasive, coming integrated by the guitar maker. Either will cost you a pretty penny, but are less expensive than keeping a whole slough of guitars around for different tunings and sounds. There are three flavors of self-tuning guitars on the market today.

Gibson Robot Guitar
This series of guitars is constructed by Gibson with technology from a German company called Tronical. Everything comes built in and it doesn't look any different from a regular guitar except for an extra nob (and a special paint job if you got the first edition) called the Master Control Knob (MCK). The MCK is a push-pull knob that when pulled up sends information to the neck and controls the strings. Charging comes in the form of an AC adaptor and Gibson says you'll get 200 tunings out of a charge.The robot guitar comes in either the Les Paul or the SG Special body.

AxCent Tuning System
This is a system produced by AxCent that can be integrated into Fender and Gibson bodies. A guitar can be sent to AxCent or they can purchase one and perform the integration for you. The process takes about 4-6 weeks. All of the parts integrated add about a half pound to the guitar, though motor noise is minimal during tuning if the volume is turned down.

James Tyler Variax
The original line of these guitars was made by Line 6 and is no longer in production, but newer models are available. You can find the originals for sale on the internet. James Tyler, a famous stringed instrument maker, created the new bodies, now looking similar to Gibson's Les Paul and SG Special. Variax guitars allow you to plug your guitar into your computer to change the tone and tuning, even making it sound like a sitar or banjo. It can also be further modified with foot pedals to give you more control.

(Images: Gibson and Flickr user Sean Rogers1 under creative commons.)

Created with Sketch.