music

Moog smacks down Gibson in guitar-improvement-off

I blogged Gibson’s pretentiously named “Robot Guitar” a while back. I haven’t used it yet, but this video makes me think its interaction design is questionable.

Donald Norman might break it down like this:

  • Pull out the “tuning knob,” which looks like a standard gain control and doesn’t look like it’s supposed to be pulled. In fact, when the knobs on normal guitars are pulled in this way they come off, so most guitarists have learned to avoid pulling on knobs.
  • Make sure you’re not touching the neck or the tuning keys! You know, those things that look like they were made for human fingers to touch and that are an essential part of the manual interface to all other string instruments? Forget that, and instead keep this knowledge in your head: hands off.
  • Strum the guitar several times. While you do this, crouch over your guitar so you can see the LEDs on the front of the tuning knob, which faces the audience.
  • After a few strums, the LEDs change color. Now you’re “ready to rock.”

Meanwhile, Moog has extended the creative capabilities of electric guitars with innovative, elegant technology that may actually deserve the title “world’s first,” though Moog is confident enough in their product that they don’t bother with that kind of marketing nonsense. By feeding some of the output signal back into the strings, the instrument allows precise control of the envelope of the sound. “Infinite sustain” as well as banjo-like damping are both made possible. Powerful stuff.

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