Music

Gizmotron 2.0 brings a bow to your axe

Gizmotron 2.0 brings a bow to ...
The Gizmotron 2.0 for electric guitar has six keys, while the bass version has five
The Gizmotron 2.0 for electric guitar has six keys, while the bass version has five
View 5 Images
The Gizmotron 2.0 for electric guitar has six keys, while the bass version has five
1/5
The Gizmotron 2.0 for electric guitar has six keys, while the bass version has five
An original Gizmotron with plastic wheels removed
2/5
An original Gizmotron with plastic wheels removed
A user can push down one or more keys simultaneously while fretting at the neck
3/5
A user can push down one or more keys simultaneously while fretting at the neck
Once installed, pressing down a key brings a spinning wheel into contact with the corresponding string and a sound similar to a cello, viola or violin is produced
4/5
Once installed, pressing down a key brings a spinning wheel into contact with the corresponding string and a sound similar to a cello, viola or violin is produced
Living Colour's Doug Wimbish trying out the Gizmotron 2.0 at the Summer NAMM Show
5/5
Living Colour's Doug Wimbish trying out the Gizmotron 2.0 at the Summer NAMM Show

Some time around 1973, Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, then members of British pop/rock group 10cc, invented a device for guitar and bass that brought a bowing sound to selected strings when a key or keys were pressed. The Gizmotron, or Gizmo for short, was famously used by Jimmy Page on the intro to In the Evening on Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door and went on to make its public debut at NAMM 1979. But it was not a commercial success due to its rather temperamental nature. Now over 40 years later, the Gizmo has been revised and revived, with version 2.0 due for release by the end of 2015.

Back in 2013, Aaron Kipness and a team of engineers began a quest to design a new and improved version of the device that promised to open up "a new realm of musical expression." Where the original Gizmo was clamped onto the bridge of a guitar, version 2.0 features a new quick release mounting system that the company says was designed to fit virtually any electric guitar or bass.

A player first needs to stick three mounting tabs to the instrument using tape, and then the housing of the Gizmotron 2.0, which is made from sturdy ABS plastic and is home to the electronics, a DC motor and five or six keys, is locked onto the mounting pads. The device is powered via a USB adapter or optional rechargeable power pack and doesn't require any modification to the host instrument or the addition of special pickups.

Living Colour's Doug Wimbish trying out the Gizmotron 2.0 at the Summer NAMM Show
Living Colour's Doug Wimbish trying out the Gizmotron 2.0 at the Summer NAMM Show

Once installed, pressing down a key brings a spinning wheel into contact with the corresponding string and a bowing sound similar to that of a cello, viola or violin is produced. One or more keys can be pushed down simultaneously while fretting at the neck, and a speed control knob can be used to tweak the volume, tone and attack of the device, or players can choose to place such control at the feet with the optional SPD-1 foot pedal. The company says that users can expect the wheels to last about as long as a guitar pick.

A bass version Gizmotron 2.0 is currently priced at US$439.99 (list price $579.99), while the electric guitar flavor is $449.99 (list price $599.99). Each device will be supplied with a toolkit for mounting and servicing. The first units are expected to be ready for shipping by this coming Festive holiday season.

You can see the Gizmotron 2.0 prototype in action in the video below.

Source: Gizmotron

Gizmotron 2.0 Prototype with Les Paul Deluxe

2 comments
jay tetzlaff
Damn,that's cool!
warren52nz
I remember the original from Godley and Creme. They did a double album called "Consequences" which featured the Gizmotron extensively. Took me ages to find a copy of the album but finally found it online (of course).