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Digitizing the Guitar
By Hurrairah bin Sohail - on 29 Jul 2011, 1:40pm

Touch screens have revolutions the common user-interface so phenomenally that in today’s world users expect every display to respond when poked. The shock suffered when a device does not comply with this expectation can be safely filed away under the category “rude”. The user interface is now venturing away from their natural habitat of tablets, computers and mobiles and finding their way to other product categories as well. The idea makes sense since its versatility and the intuitive feel means that it can be applied to any gadget that requires human input.  

The Misa Digital Kitara guitar has buttons for frets and a touch pad where the soundhole should be.

Now is seems that touch screens are going to digitize the guitar. The Misa Digital Kitara has already replaced the strings of the traditional rock ‘n’ roll instrument with buttons corresponding to each individual note. But the touch screen, placed where you would traditionally find the bridge pick-up or soundhole, is what takes centre stage. Obviously, the Kitara provides players with the standard options of strumming or plucking the six strings, displayed as lines or bands on the display. 

The guitar has been digitized and its strings replaced with lines across the display.

Making full use of the touch screen’s capabilities, sliding your finger across can actuate a variety of different effects as well such as volume swells, pitch bends and phasor effects. In the old days, you had to learn each individual trick after months of practice. You can now master them in a matter of minutes because the touch screen has almost eliminated the learning curve by making these techniques as natural as is possible. And there is news about the entrance of another contender into the fray.

But the real innovation comes with the zoning of the touch screen so that each area of the display can be individually customized to provide a particular sound. Essentially the new addition makes allows the guitar to finally become a midi-controller. Guitarists will no longer have to learn how to play the keys in order to control the wide array of pads and synthesizers that are available to today’s sound-scaper, which is extremely exciting news.

The Hyper Touch Guitar goes one step further and the entire neck of the instrument is a touch pad.

The Hyper Touch guitar is rumoured to be upping stakes even more and replace the entire fretboard and bridge with one huge touch screen. Not only does that revolutionize what a guitar player can do with the instrument, it also means that there is a seismic shift in the very essence of the instrument. Touch screens are not only modernizing and digitizing the guitar, but morphing its core right down to the tactile sensation. Whether or not that is for the better, we will only find out once we get a chance to jam out with one of these new age axes.

Hurrairah bin Sohail

Hurrairah bin Sohail / Former Tech Writer

Good tech has good specs, great tech has personality. Keeping that in mind, Hurrairah expects character and performance from any gadget he spends his hard earned cash on. As a guitar player and 'struggling' musician, he has an appreciation for natural sound is tasked with reviewing speaker systems.