Earlier this year, Melbourne-based inventor Dave Auld launched his digital/analog Fusion guitar in the US, after a successful crowdfunding campaign helped bring the intriguing instrument into production. France's HyVibe Audio is banking for similar success for its very own hybrid guitar, which turns an acoustic dreadnought into a connected smart guitar.
Acoustic pickers can tap IK Multimedia if they want to hook their hollow-bodied six-string up to smartphone or tablet, and record tunes, add effects or output to a powered speaker. But there is a 2 meter (6.6 ft) cable to contend with. The ToneWood Amp cuts back on trailing cables a little, and pushes digital effects out through the acoustic's sound hole, no big amp required. It does require the use of a pickup of some sort though.
"Acoustic guitar players have high standards for natural sound, but also want the features and flexibility of digital," said HyVibe's Dr. Adrien Mamou-Mani. "We address these needs by using the natural vibration of the guitar to create the best possible sounds and add digital control and connectivity to give the player effects, recording, and playback – all within the guitar itself."
The HyVibe guitar has the electronics built into the instrument itself. Proprietary technology registers vibrations on the AA spruce soundboard at the bridge as the instrument is being played. A multi-effects processor makes chorus, reverb, delay, distortion, phaser, tremolo, boost and more available to the player in real time.
And there's a built-in speaker and amplifier, an onboard sound recorder, looping functionality, integrated tuner, metronome and EQ, too. The company has also included input and output jacks for expanded connectivity.
A user interface to the top caters for player tweaks and control, with an OLED display, presence slider and power/volume knob. But a Bluetooth antenna allows pairing with a smartphone running an iOS/Android app for extra functionality and control, as well as enabling sharing recordings with friends on social media platforms.
As for the guitar itself, players can look forward to a 20 fret blackwood fingerboard, mahogany sides and back and chrome tuners.
The company reckons that musicians have been using prototypes since 2011, and that it's now ready to rock n roll into production. But before that can happen, HyVibe has launched on Indiegogo, where pledges for an early bird guitar start at US$499. If all goes to plan, shipping is expected to start in June 2018. You can find out more about the project in the video below.
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