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Live From CES: Gibson Digital Hands-On

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Gibson is twanging about its digital guitar, and we spent some time strumming it today. This thing is amazing. It's a standard Les Paul axe with an RJ45-out instead of the usual amp line. Along with the classic pickups, it's got a HEX pickup (patent applied), which is really six discreet pickups (one for each string). The pickups sense both up-down and side-to-side motion—for each string. They also claim there is a separate of up to 90dB between each string.

The signal is sent via a proprietary MaGIC protocol to a BreakOut Box that is the width of one rack space and half the rack space wide. The box has 8 outputs (1/4-inch jacks), one for each string, one for the classic humbucking pickup and a pass-through for a microphone. You do not need to plug this into a computer, although that will give you even more cool things to play with.


So, what can you do with all this? Add delay to each string. Then assign each string a different channel for surround sound—it's true, I heard it. Another option is to use just the first and fourth inputs on the BreakOut Box which will assign the lower four to one channel, the upper four to the other channel and give you instant stereo.

This guitar does so much that even the guy on hand to demo it didn't understand it all. There is a mic input on the guitar, for one. The Gibson Digital will be available this quarter and retail for around $3,900.