Sometimes, when you are playing your guitar - just doing some good ol' fashioned face melting - you want something more! Something different! So, what must we do to remedy this problem? Pedal Boards! DUH! Because you aren't going to go out and buy a crappy Line 6 modeling amp, you're going to need a lot of effects pedals to satisfy your newfound experimental craving! But, when you walk into Guitar Center and see all the pedals and multi-effects, you realize that your stage presence has been greatly reduced! Why? You need to be AT your pedal board to change whatever effect you're using...how barbaric of you. Stompboxes have been around longer than air I think, it's time for something NEW! Like a guitar that has all that insane tech already built in!
The Science Fair Project
Did you ever think to yourself, "Self...this whole guitar thing...it's getting kinda old. I really want to make sounds like a synth...but I play the guitar *sigh*." Have no fear! The Moog E1 is here! It has a standard 1/4" output in addition to a 13 pin midi output so that you can put it through any midi converter or virtual guitar system to get sound that ranges from weird to otherworldly! A super-cool thing about the Moog is its self sustaining powers. You can set it in one setting to sustain the strings infinitely when played, but, in another setting you, can set the guitar to mute every string except for the one that is currently being played. In yet another setting, you have the ability to kill the sustain without having to palm mute. It can, also, auto arpeggiate any chord that you hold. SORTA NEAT!
What's Good: It looks freaking cool! Also, the sustain/not sustain/selective sustain feature is nice. The ability to make such otherworldly noises while maintaining the use of guitar strings is fantastic. It's around the $2,000 mark, which is pretty good, considering everything you get. It makes me wonder about the overall quality of the guitar...because they put a crap ton of expensive sounding stuff in it! Hopefully the neck won't warp in a year.
What's Not So Good: I guess what concerns me the most is that I'm intimidated by NORMAL guitars that are intricately made. This guitar has a plethora of buttons and knobs and switches that'll take me a solid hour of continuous concentration (so about a year) to figure out. Then, I have to figure out how to use a midi device to achieve the sound I want! AH it's scary!
Also, watch this, its cool!
Does anyone else wonder why people who manufacture audio production tools have such crappy audio in their videos? ANYONE!???
The Classic (Sorta)
Okay, so this doesn't qualify as a pre-effects guitar so much as an awesome guitar that uses technology to do stuff that other guitars can't. The Gibson Robot has a revolutionary tuning system that will automatically tune the guitar! How cool is that?
What's Good: The Robot has a lot going for it! It is indeed a Gibson, which means it's going to have some build quality to it! The biggest thing is obviously the tuners. You can preset what tuning you want and switch back and forth between tunings at the pull of a knob! Also, the master knob that's responsible for said tuning glows to indicate which strings are in tune and which are not.
What's Not So Good: Personally I don't like the super heavy feel of a Les Paul, but that's just my opinion. The Les Paul is the biggest pro guitar available and I understand why. However, it doesn't fit MY style of play, so, for me, it has a strike against it. Also, a colleague of mine told me that the self tuning function is hard on strings, and the strings have a tendency to break a lot. So, if you end up spending all your saved time that you would have used tuning by changing strings, is it really worth it? A question that will go unanswered forever I am afraid...
'That Guy's' Guitar
The Misa Kitara
This is half guitar, half guitar hero, and half midi pad thingy (wrap your mind around that one!). Instead of frets with strings over them on the neck, we have buttons. Instead of strings with pickups under them on the body, we have a midi controller pad. The super cool thing about this is that you can configure it almost anyway you want, and, if you are a programmer, you can even mess with the open source software it runs on.
What's Good: If you strive to be "that guy" congrats, you've achieved your life long goal. The ridiculous amount of hipsterism to own this guitar is displayed most obviously in the touch pad that controls the pitch bend and attack on the sound. It's very customizable! The best thing about this guitar is that you will finally have something in common with Christopher Wolstenholme, who uses a Misa bass thing in the new muse song 'Madness'. Also, the base model is under $1000, and that gives you crazy control over your strange alien noises you apparently desire.
What's Not So Good: Soo...is it just me, or does it look like a giant piece of plastic with a glowy thing on it? I'm not convinced about any type of build quality. Also, the authenticity is completely gone. There aren't even strings! Couple that with the fact that any REAL guitarists are going to mock you mercilessly for owning what they would probably call a McDonald's toy. You may want to reconsider, not to mention it's uglier than sin...
All that being said, this thing can do some pretty awesome stuff!
So, at this point I really haven't given you a guitar that just has old-fashioned effects built in...well, if that's what you REALLY WANT, consider this:
Alesis X Guitar
This guitar is your basic guitar with all the normal effects in the guts! You can control the reverb, distortion, chorus, etc. from the guitar itself! Just like a modeling amp, you can pick from factory presets or make your own!!
What's Good: This guitar is way more familiar feeling than the others (with possible exception to the robot). It has all the classics built right in, and you can switch between presets with ease. This guitar should feel more authentic compared to the other guitars, you have to tune it yourself and it doesn't sound like aliens fighting each other.
What's Not So Good: It looks like a freaking strat! SUPER CREATIVE! Someone deserves a gold star for this groundbreaking design... Also, because this guitar is essentially a multi-effect pedal in the body, it isn't that special. I think I'd prefer a crazy, non-guitar run through weird midi devices, or a straight classic axe.