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At Gadget Show Live I stumbled upon this awesome new way to learn the guitar. The Gtar is a fully blown guitar, but with a hook-up for an iPhone and a fretboard full of light indicators. It works a bit like Guitar Hero - you pick a track you want to learn and it'll show you how... but on a real guitar.


It seems like quite a smart way to learn - as you're learning on a real guitar, the muscle memory will be the same - enabling you to truly lean. Check out the video I shot on Tuesday to find out more:

Apparently to make it happen the company have already licensed huge catalogues of real songs from the likes of EMI and Sony, apparently including the Beatles back catalogue.

The Gtar will retail for around £349 when it is released here. Just try not to smash it up at the end of your set.

Even guitars are getting a tech makeover at CES 2011. Gibson, home to classic guitar models such as the Les Paul and Flying V, were on hand at the show floor to demo their new robotic guitar, the Firebird Z.

With auto-tuning headstocks and banks of sounds allowing you to replicate any number of pedal, amp and guitar model combinations, it had Gerald worked up enough to shoot a 7 mintue video of the gear. He had to be dragged away kicking and screaming from the booth.

Check out why he was so excited in the video above.

After a midi-guitar that's just as freindly recording to Logic as it is at mucking about with pals on Rock Band or Guitar Hero? Then check out the You Rock Digital guitar.

With tons of preset sounds, it doesn't feature any physical strings over the fretboard, meaning it'll never go out of tune. It's looking like a great learning tool for budding musicians.

Check it out in the video above.

Pedal Juice

The Pedal Juice battery pack, from Sanyo would make a great present for any musicians in your life who use a lot of pedals.

This little device contains Sanyo's Eneloop technology inside and can power a whole slew of daisy-chained devices. Charge it up for 3.5 hours and it will provide you with 9V DC of output to whatever you like, powering a 10mA effects pedal for an amazing 50 hours. For those non-musicians that's about 10 times longer than your standard 9V battery and on top of that it will provide a constant 9V right up until it's dead. Sanyo also claims the Pedal Juice pack will create less electrical interference than using an AC adapter.

The Pedal Juice battery pack is available for $149.99

REVIEW: Hercules MK4 DJ Console


Hercules MK4 DJ Console top.jpg

Name: MK4 DJ Console (Hercules)
Type: All-in-one digital DJ station
Specs: (Click here for full specs/minimum requirements)
Price: £173.37 from Amazon

Whether you're a vinyl junkie or a tech whizz-kid, there's no denying that it's becoming more and more common to see DJs these days rocking an MP3 compatible digital deck rather than an analogue one. Leading the digital charge is French-based manufacturers Hercules. They have become for digital turntables what Technics are to old-school vinyl set ups, with their 2002 HDJC model setting the standard for all consoles to follow. Two hardware generations on and we now have the MK4, and again it's a beauty.

The MK4 is a highly portable bit of kit. At 7.36″ x 10.4″ x 2.5″ and weighing just 1.55kgs, it's about as compact as a console like this can get before becoming so small and fiddly to make it all but unusable. Shipping with a clear-plastic protective casing and shoulder strap, it's obviously been built with the travelling mix-master in mind, and though made almost entirely from plastic, looks sturdy enough to take an in-transit hammering.

Despite its digital nature, the MK4's hardware controls will feel instantly familiar to traditionalists. There are 36 blue LED backlit buttons in all, perfect for use in dark clubs (or even darker bedrooms), as well as 3 sliders, 8 knobs and the all important pair of jog wheels for scratching and adjusting track position/playback speed. Everything feels just about right to the touch too; Cue and Play/Pause buttons give a satisfying click when pressed and the sliders have just the right amount of resistance. With a unit this small however, some concessions have had to be made; it can all feel a little bit too cramped at times, and I'd have happily sacrificed a little portability for an extra centimetre or so in the jog wheels' diameters.

Plenty of input/output connection options are available on the MK4 too. First, and probably most importantly, is the USB socket for linking up to your desktop PC or laptop and nabbing MP3s with the bundled software (more on that in a little bit). In the centre of the front edge you'll find two 6.5 jack sockets for mics and headphones, complete with dedicated volume and preview mix knobs. On the back you can connect to an external stereo speaker output (channels 1-2: 2 RCA), as well as parallel output (channels 1-2: 3.5 mm mini-jack) for multimedia speakers. Two stereo inputs (channels 1-2/3-4: 2 x 2 RCA) are also available for hooking up CD or MP3 players.

Hercules MK4 DJ Console middle.jpg

As this is a digital deck after all, housed within the plastic casing is an integrated soundcard. The MK4 uses an integrated Wolfson 8770 digital-to-analogue converter (DAC) for audio output, and a Wolfson 8775 digitizer for input. They both perform admirably, offering quality that seems to meet the reported 06dB SNR, 'A' weighted at 48kHz.

Though we tested the unit with a Windows PC, the MK4 has drivers and software for Macs too. The driver panel itself is nicely presented, and offers important controls to manage latency, the sensitivity of the hardware dials and jog wheels and number of MIDI channels amongst other things. Hercules have left no-stone unturned, and I experienced no issues with my computer recognising the gear, despite running the dreaded Vista OS.

The MK4 DJ Console also ships with a "Lite" edition of the Virtual DJ software, again compatible with both Mac and PC, which is where the real mixing-magic happens. You can use it to sync up your audio files, add all manner of weird effects and set automatic loops from 1, 2, 4 or 8 beats. The software, which can also be controlled with a mouse and keyboard, is very intuitive, and made all the more tactile and fun with the addition of the MK4. I've mucked around with and enjoyed the stand-alone Virtual DJ software in the past, but having a hardware console controller paired up with it really brings it into its own. Confident DJs may want to upgrade to a more fully-featured edition than the one that ships with the MK4, but it's more than enough for amateurs to get their teeth stuck into. You'll also want to make sure you've got a fairly zippy computer running the show, as such intensive audio processing can be a real drain on system resources.

Apart from some inevitable hardware real-estate issues when it comes to the small spacings between the knobs and the buttons, it's quite hard to find fault with the MK4 DJ console. If digital DJ-ing is the inevitable future we've to look forward to down in Clubland, at least we can rest safe in the knowledge that Hercules will be providing great gear that wont hinder the hands on decks.


Scroll down for more pics of the Hercules MK4 DJ Console

Click here to buy the Hercules MK4 DJ Console for £173.37 from Amazon

guitar connect.jpgFancy yourself as the next Page, Hendrix or Van Halen? Well budding axe-gods will soon be able to turn it up to 11 wherever they go, as Griffin launch the GuitarConnect cable that works alongside the iShred app to turn your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad into an amp emulator.

The 1/4" cable connects to both your guitar's input and your Apple device, allowing you to use the phone as a speaker. A 6-foot version of the GuitarConnect cable also features a headphone port if you want to keep your shredding private. Pair it with the free iShred Live app (available here) and you've got a fully functional amp simulator, complete with a handful of effect pedals, and more premium pedals available through the iShred store. The app also features a tuner, metronome and loop player, allowing you to play along with specific sections of songs that are stored on your device.

"Getting hardware and software to work together is a unique challenge," said Mark Rowan, President of Griffin Technology. "This type of application requires more than a basic instrument cable, and we were excited to develop a cable to integrate with iShred LIVE."

"iShred LIVE's realistic interface makes it the most useful mobile guitar application available," said Charlie Hitchcock, Chief Developer at the Frontier Design Group who worked on the app. "Whether you're writing a song, practising for a gig, or travelling the world, GuitarConnect and iShred LIVE are the essential tools every guitarist and iPhone owner needs."

The cable will be available in Apple stores by the end of the summer priced £19.99, while the iShred app is already available here.

Blue Microphones unveil the Snowball USB mic


snowball mic.jpgBlue Microphones have today announced the release of their Snowball USB mic. Ideal for podcasts, Skype conversations or home recording, the microphone costs £89.95, available from Solutions-Inc.

Thanks to a dual capsule design and three-pattern switch (cardioid, cardioid with -10db pad and omnidirectional), the Snowball should be able to pick up the most raucous heavy metal band or the smoothest songstress with equal clarity.

It's not a bad looking bit of kit either, reminiscent of the radio mics of the 1950's, albeit with an anachronistic USB plug on the end.

For more info, check out

As a fervent disciple at the altar of Rock, I tend to treat any digital modification of the hallowed axe as a sacrilegious act. The immortal words of wisdom, "if it aint' broke, don't fix it" usually come to mind. However this guitar/touchscreen mash-up from Misa has me eating my own self-penned doctrine.

It's essentially a MIDI controller, hooking up to your PC music software to access your own customisable sounds. While the 24 frets at first seem pretty familiar, the Misa Digital Guitar is stringless, instead generating sound by tapping and sweeping across a sizeable touchscreen.

It seems quite a lot like a tuned-up chaos pad, and similar to Matt Bellamy of Muse's custom-built guitars. Quite frighteningly, it even looks as though it could have a legitimate musical use.

For more info, click here. The website seems to suggest that you can buy one of these things, but there is no price listed, which probably means you cant afford it.

technics deck.jpgTurntables have arguably been as instrumental to the sound of pop music today as the electric guitar or synthesiser. Now rumours are circulating that benchmark brand Technics are to cease production on two of their most iconic turntables, the 1200 and 1210 series.

With a twenty year pedigree, Technics turntables have been fundamental to the growth of dance, hip-hop and house music to name but a few genres. So what's caused this shocking move?

According to a statement posted on Global Hardstyle, parent company Panasonic have pulled the plug on Technics turntables due to a rapid decline in sales for the gear.

A spokesman for Panasonic Australia corroborated the news. "It is a sad day today but due to low sales globally in analogue turntables a decision to stop production has been made on Technics Turntables," Ian North of Panasonic explained. "For Australia this means we will receive our last shipment in March."

Note that North only mentions sales of analogue turntables. So have MP3's and other forms of digital music killed off the turntable? With plenty of accessible DJ software readily available at the fraction of a price of a deck and far more portable than a weighty vinyl collection it certainly seems that way. Everyone's a deft hand today at stringing together a play list, and there's no such thing as an elusive b-side thanks to Internet file-sharing.

But it's more than just stringing some songs together, it's an art, a lifestyle choice, right? Will the art of mixing and scratching be lost on the next generation of musical innovators? Do you care if Technics pull out of the turntable market? Answer our poll below and let us know.

Via: Clash Music

Yamaha TNR_O_1_jpg.jpg OK, it may look like the board the fourth official holds up to tell you how much injury time there is at a football match, but actually it's the latest version of an intriguing musical device from Yamaha.

First launched at the end of 2007, the Tenori-On is a 16 x 16 matrix of LED switches which allows you to play music intuitively to create a visible musical interface. The device comprises 16 layers and each layer can be assigned separate notes and voices. Apparently, it's already proved popular with artists such as Bjork, Yoko Ono and Little Boots, but now Yamaha has launched a new wallet-friendly (ie. cheaper version) for us normal folk.

The new Tenori-On 'Orange' offers the same levels of creative power as the original but Yamaha has replaced the very cool but expensive magnesium casing of the original with a heavy duty and durable plastic casing. Prices have yet to be confirmed but it will be significantly cheaper than the original £949 model.

For further information visit ....

Yamaha TNR_O_2_jpg.jpg


If you're the type of person who wished that The Onion's piece on Sousaphone Hero was genuine, then you're probably also the type of person that this wonderful Guitar Hero mod is squarely aimed at.


I've done a little DJing before, and while it's always more fun to be a little distanced from the dancefloor, you do feel like you're missing something when you're removed from the party. If only there was some kind of portable turntable so that you were free to move as you pleased. Well wish no more, as some genius has developed the scratchophone!

logitech-wireless-guitar.jpgI'm sure you've seen those pictures of real guitars modded to work with Guitar Hero, and coveted them furiously. Me too. Well, covet no longer, because you can have your very own wooden guitar to play Guitar Hero on, courtesy of Logitech.

The guitar, over there, has a rosewood fretboard, metal frets, and a wireless range of up to ten metres, via 2.4GHz wireless technology. It's even got the slider bar from Guitar Hero World Tour, so you can get that awesome whooshy phaser sound.

It's PS2/PS3 only, but Logitech reckons it'll work fine on all versions of Guitar Hero, and Activision has even fully licensed it to that effect. It'll be available on Amazon UK, and cost a rather-hefty-but-oh-so-worth-it £150.


Related posts: Gibson Guitar introduces limited edition Dark Fire | Guitar Hero makes music look easy - 2.5 million extra kids learning instruments thanks to video games

puresolo-logo.jpgPureSolo is a new application designed for people to sing, or play, along with backing tracks. It's great for drunken Karaoke after lunch on Christmas day, but it's also good for any aspiring musicians - classical or rock & pop - to play along as if they were in a real band.

Each song offered by the service is missing a particular track, be that vocals, guitar, or even oboe or alto sax. When you join you get one free download, but beyond that, each track costs £1 to £2. You can record your efforts with a microphone, and use headphones, too.


YouTube has just announced that it's setting up the "world's first collaborative online orchestra", the YouTube Symphony Orchestra, in which musicians from all over the world learn and perfect a single piece of music, record themselves playing it, and then submit it for inclusion in the giant online experiment.

It's never going to give you the same kick as playing live with real musicians, but there's a competition that will see the best performers whisked off to Carnegie Hall to play the piece for real - not in front of a video camera.


Firstly, I must apologise because I'm writing this article from the perspective of a keyboard player, not a guitarist, so if you are a guitarist I hope you'll cut me some slack if I foul up on the lingo - and if you can't, correct me in the comments below.

OK, so Gibson (makers of extraordinary guitars) has created the Dark Fire guitar, inspired by its previous digital guitar innovations: the Gibson Digital and the Robot guitar.

With a nod of the head to the Byrdland and the 1911 F4 Mandolin, the Dark Fire features a flowerpot inlay on the headstock and is made from mahogany to make it lightweight and acoustically louder with increased sustain and resonance.

2-million-children-learn-guitar-hero.jpgHear that sound? That's the slow, disjointed, tortured noise made by 2.5 million 14-year-old boys currently trying to work out the opening chords of 'Smoke on the Water' on their new proper guitars.

It's all thanks to the success of music games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, which have triggered a massive surge in the number of kids learning to play musical instruments. The Times says a survey by Youth Music found that over half of the UK's 12 million 3-18-year-olds have played a music game of some sort - and a fifth of them have been motivated to learn how to play a proper instrument as a result.

So if you're after a cheap guitar or drum kit, you might want to check out eBay in the new year - after the kids have realised proper music's a bit harder than pressing a couple of big buttons when a red circle appears and flog off their Argos gifts in disgust.

(Via The Times)

Related posts: The Beatles in Rock Band | Guitar Hero subs scheme

This is the tells-us-nothing teaser video that Gibson just sent us. It's something to do with a guitar, and glowy bits. But damnit does it look tasty. Following some pretty snazzy work with digital guitars previously, there's every possibility that this could be the most awesome axe since Hendrix's flaming guitar.

Luckily, there's a little bit more info revealed by a variety of product shots that we've been handed. Click the picture below to begin.

abbey_road.jpgGood news for any lady readers who are planning to marry and divorce a former Beatle: at long last the Beatles, or "The Fabs" as Steve Harley infuriatingly refers to them, have finally licensed their music to something that could be described as "modern technology". That's right, Beatles songs are coming to money-spinning rhythm game Rock Band. I wonder how long it will be before Guitar Hero gets The Monkees in retaliation?


Yamaha has launched its EZ-TP electronic teaching trumpet, allowing any would-be Wynton Marsalis to practice more quietly without driving other members of the household (and neighbours) potty.

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