Jumbo Sunshade - Blogpost

 
The Gibson Robot Guitar
 
The first time i saw an automatic string-winding guitar tuner i was disgusted.  One of the best things for musicians starting out is a good foundation and this seemed counter-productive in that regard.  Kids are gonna have a really hard time trying to figure out what Stone Gossard is playing in Daughter if they don't even know how to tune their own guitars, right?
 
Here's the String Master Robotic Guitar Tuner ($50).  It's about as straight-forward a design as you could come up with but there is one major flaw: the guitar.

This machine wasn't programmed to take into account the minute balance of tension that exists between the nut and the post.  The reason that everyone tunes UP to the desired note is to pull an even amount of tension up from the bridge side of the nut.  If not for this, each string goes flat immediately after being pulled sharp with vibrato.

In addition to that, it looks as though you'd have to hold it sideways along the headstock in order to get it between the tuning gears, even for 3-per-side guitars like the Les Paul.
 

My opinion on robot guitar tuners was changed somewhat today when i saw a quick demonstration of the Gibson Robot guitar.

First of all let me just say that it was really cool looking!  You just strum all the strings at once and the tuning gears start spinning away (this guitar was purposely put way out of tune).  You have to strum it a few times but it literally takes less than 30 seconds for this guitar to simultaneously tune all six of its strings.

It's basically a practical affair because with the way the strings are clamped & wound on the Robot guitar you don't necessarily have to pull them to set the string tension between the nut and the post.

Yes, you can choose between 440 or "E Flat" (a half step down).  It also does open tunings like DGDGBD

& DADGAD.  Drop D is available as an open tuning, but if you really need help lowering your E string by two notes then you probably aren't skilled enough to operate this Gibson's master control knob!  lol

In addition to tuning itself, another feature being promoted is this Gibson's ability to help you set the intonation.  If i were new to guitars, i might ask:
Won't my $2,800 guitar come with the intonation already set? (and)
How often can i expect the intonation to be in need of adjustment over this guitar's lifetime?

I like the fact that this Gibson is able to simultaneously tune all six strings and (obviously) without having to hold some device between the pegs.  This is a big step forward from the hand-held tuner.
I also like the fact that this guitar can jump to an open tuning; although i didn't get to see the process for doing so and i wonder how involved it is.

One thing i do not like about the Gibson Robot guitar is the process of changing a string.  If you tune to standard 440, it goes something like this:
* Pull out the tuning gear knob (for manual operation)
* Pull out the ball-end half of the string
* Loosen post screw and pull out that end of the string
* Thread the new string through the bridge and post
* Tighten the post screw
* Clip the excess string (recommended, but not necessary)
* Push the tuning gear knob back in
* Pull out the master control knob and place it on the revolving arrow position, then press it twice (no i'm not making this up)
* Turn the master control knob to the appropriate string position
* Press and hold for three seconds to engage the String Up mode
* [are you laughing yet?]
* The tuning gear you selected will then begin to wind up to tension, at which point the string symbol (on the master control knob) will turn blue indicating that the string is ready to tune up as you like
... It's at this point that i become unclear as to the next step, which i *think* is to put the guitar back into self-tune mode and strum the strings again so it can tune itself up.

Another thing i'm unclear about is switching to manual-tuning mode, which i believe involves pulling out all six tuning gear knobs.

Ok so this particular Les Paul's ability to simultaneously tune all six strings without having to hold some device between the pegs is great, even if *changing* strings is way more of a hassle (in my opinion).
But i still think that having a machine tune your guitar (versus being able to tune it yourself) is basically ridiculous.

The string changing thing wouldn't keep me from using the Gibson Robot guitar to gig out since i don't break strings often enough for that to be an issue.  I can't imagine paying $2,800 for this particular guitar.

 

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