The OneManBand technology from OMB Guitars essentially combines aspects of the BeatBuddy, DigiTech's Trio stomp and Fishman's TriplePlay into one package, allowing guitarists to play along to a real-time backing band, solo using different instrument sounds or use the six string as a MIDI controller. Usefully, the project caters for those who want to add the technology to their own instruments or buy guitars that have it pre-installed.
New York's OMB Guitars says that its OneManBand system "utilizes capacitive and inductive tech to detect signals from the strings and convert them to digital data without any latency." The startup explains that every time a player presses down a string on the fingerboard, the system registers it as a closed circuit and converts the notes or chords into MIDI. Beyond that, OMB is keeping mum.
The system can effectively add a backing band to the guitar's output that responds to playing dynamics in real time. So instead of the musician fitting in with the backing track, the backing track follows the player. The technology dials up a rhythm guitar, bass, piano, percussion, a string section and horns – and the virtual band is promised to have a rich and full sound.
Users can select from a number of rhythms, style and genres, including rock, pop, jazz, classical and country music, via an iOS/Android app running on a smartphone and cabled to the OMB tech. Interestingly, if the player just wants to be a band leader, fretting chord shapes on the neck will adjust backing band playback accordingly.
There's an Instrument mode, too, that will make the guitar sound like other instruments, such as a violin or piano. This can be used to give soloing a little something extra or to transform a guitarist into a red hot synth wizard, violinist or accordion player at the touch of a button. And finally, there's a Studio mode which can turn the six string into a MIDI controller for composing with digital audio workstation suites such as Ableton and Cubase.
The OMB technology will come as an Upgrade Kit for players who want to use their own guitars, or as a Strat-shaped electric guitar with the tech already built in, or as two dreadnought-sized acoustics also cooking the OMB tech. A foot pedal with five programmable stomp zones has also been developed, that pairs with the OMB tech and the companion app over Bluetooth for hands-free control.
OMB Guitars has launched on Kickstarter to help fund production. Pledge levels start at US$129 for the upgrade kit. A standard OMB acoustic with a spruce top, mahogany back, sides and neck and 20 fret rosewood fingerboard comes in at $229, while a pro OMB acoustic model is pitched at $549. An OMB electric requires pledges of at least $449.
If all goes to plan, shipping is expected to start in September 2018. The video below has more on the project.
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