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gTar by Incident

A digital MIDI guitar powered by an iPhone app for novices and budding rockstars

by Hans Aschim in Tech on 31 October 2013

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Anyone who has tried to learn guitar has, no doubt, found that there's more to shredding like Jimi Hendrix than paisley scarves—playing guitar takes hours of practice and serious dedication. For those looking for a more interactive guitar-learning experience as well as accomplished musicians looking to take their creativity to the next level, look no further than the gTar. At first glance, the gTar looks like a traditional electric guitar with its six-string setup, tuning pegs and pick guard. However, if the iPhone slot didn't give it away, the gTar is in its own class altogether from its inner-workings to its functionality. After an astounding launch on Kickstarter, the gTar is going straight into production due to overwhelming demand.

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Operating on the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)—the system that allows for digital musical instruments, equipment and computers to communicate—creating sound with the gTar isn't really about creating literal noise at all. Rather, than traditional guitar pickups, the sensors on the bridge and fretboard collect data which is then converted to sounds via MIDI on your iPhone. This means the gTar can sound like, well, anything. A range of sounds are included in the accompanying gTar app from electric and acoustic guitar to upright bass and more, meaning users can seamlessly add effects like reverb and distortion with a mere swipe on the touchscreen.

For novices, the gTar comes packed with a full lesson plan ready to get you from "Yankee Doodle" to "Stairway to Heaven" in no time. Imagine a mix of Guitar Hero and the real thing. On your iPhone screen, the fret and corresponding screen appear in time with the music. Meanwhile, the multi-touch LED fretboard lights up to assist with finger placement and even detects slide (so once you're shredding guitar solos, you can really make the gTar sing). Test out your skills and learn new songs with some of gTar's preloaded songs from artists like The Doobie Brothers and Foo Fighters. Various difficulty modes make it easy to build confidence and get the hang of string patterns. We suggest playing Mozart's 40th Symphony, available on the app, using the synth patch (with heavy reverb) for an interesting interpretation of the classical piece.

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Aside from being able to easily manipulate the sound, the gTar is "fully hackable." Attaching the gTar to a computer using a USB output allows for endless post-production, recording and performance potential using MIDI software. An experienced guitarist could finally translate those tucked-away melodies in their head into other instruments. While the potential is limitless for professionals and amateurs alike thanks to gTar's easy customization and modification, perhaps most importantly, the gTar is fun and intuitive to use. In "Free Play" mode, it's easy to get lost in the music even if you've never picked up a guitar.

Available in white or black, the gTar and has a modular dock, making it compatible with all iPhones beginning with the fourth generation. The gTar starts at at $400 with everything you need to start playing the hits. Check them out online for more.

Photos by Graham Hiemstra

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