Earlier this month we had a look at some of the music gear highpoints of 2018. Though this showed that hardware and software innovation continues apace, there's nothing like a taste of oddness to serve as a reminder that gear makers can still think way outside of the box.
In no particular order, here are some of our favorite creations – ranging from a multi-tonal monster to a frankly bizarre reworking of the saxophone to a floor stomp with multiple personalities.
When six strings are just not enough
Unveiled at the winter NAMM show back in January, the Djent 2018 is a true multi-scale monster in every sense of the word.
It was custom built for YouTuber Jared Dines by Australia's Ormsby Guitars and has 18 strings stretched over a nine piece neck with three truss rods keeping things taut, there are three pickups and the upper face of the body has been topped in genuine stone for the ultimate hard rock aesthetic.
Dines released a demo video in April where he gives the instrument a proper workout, which you can see below.
This is no ordinary saxophone
The Infinitone has the look of an oddly-angled saxophone but it's played using an iPad. The colored grid on the tablet interface offers up the tones, microtones and overtones of the Infinitonic system of music – where "9 octaves of overtones contain 256 unique musical intervals, thus generating an 8-bit resolution."
The brainchild of Subhraag Singh, the Infinitone has a reed-based mouthpiece at the top that's blown much like a saxophone. But there are no keys and levers for the player to push and press, the metal valves are opened and closed by motors to achieve the note displayed on the selected icon of the iPad interface.
You can see Singh demonstrate the Infinitone in the video below.
Let the games begin
If you want to alter the tone of a guitar, or add some body, grit or noise at output, you can add effects to the signal chain. These can take the form of stomps with one job to do, multiFX boxes or the almost infinite sound library of digital effects. The Console offers a bit of everything in one pedal.
By slotting in a game console-like cartridge, the player can determine what kind of stomp the Console becomes. Each cartridge rocks three effects and there are 10 in all. A Cathedral cartridge, for example, will give your stomp some reverb, the Magic lets you mess with pitched delays, the Vibe offers rotary phase modulations and the Synthex-1 gives you a bass synth.
There's a joystick up top to control the sounds, a couple of parameter adjustment knobs and a program selector. And it's not just for instruments like guitar or keyboard, the demo video below shows the Console messing with vinyl playback too.
The theremin is an odd instrument to start with. Its body has two antennas branching from it, and the wave of one hand in mid air controls the volume while the other hand messes with oscillator frequency. It's been used on many movie soundtracks over the years, providing eerie sounds to match eerie situations, and has even found itself on stage with legendary blues-rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa on more than one occasion.
The Theresyn also sports two antennas, but unlike its ancestor, this all-in-one music box invites the player to touch it and promises whole new levels of unique sonic creation. And there's a built-in speaker that's had strings stretched over the front which resonate when sound is output. You can see its inventor Nori Ubukata playing the instrument in the video below.
Cyle Ziebarth told us that his GuitaRing was inspired by the spinning guitars in 80s ZZ Top videos, but with a little extra all-around fun thrown in for good measure.
"I just wanted to add something to that by being able to 'orbit' the guitar around yourself," he revealed. "I had only intended on just one guitar, but while thinking of what I could use as a counter-balance, it just occurred to me 'why not another guitar?'
"The guitars are basically attached by a couple of strap locks that are mounted to brackets that are bolted to the guitar and outer ring of the lazy susan. The weight of it is not too bad because it's all on your belt instead of draped over your shoulder."
Though the device can be used with regular instrument cables, it's easiest when going wireless for obvious (tangle mess) reasons. The video below shows the GuitaRing in action.
These are but a few music gear oddities that have caught our attention recently. Any more we should know about? Let us know in the comments.
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