David Lamkins picked up his first guitar a long time ago. As best he can recall the year was 1967: the year of the Summer of Love. Four decades later David has conjured up an amalgam of folk, rock and jazz solo guitar music for the occasional intimate Portland audience.
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location: Portland, OR USA

Facets: Gibson, digital, MAGIC, technology, @musings info

On Gibson's MAGIC and guitars

MAGIC is Gibson's name for a digital protocol they've designed to move multiple channels of audio and control over inexpensive 10-BaseT cables. At the Winter 2003 NAMM they showed guitars which incorporated this technology.

I think MAGIC has some potential for FOH sound. One of Gibson's anticipated applications (and their first product, predating the guitars by quite a bit) is a digital snake. I can see where that might be easier to set up, at least w.r.t. the cable run, but I'd still worry about the failure modes. If the board in either end of the digital snake fails, chances are you've got NO signal on any channel. In a low-tech snake, you might have a flaky connector or wire, but that's independent of the rest of the channels that will continue to work just fine, thank you.

And what's the big deal with multiple channels? We've had that for many years now with the Roland synth pickups. Few guitarists have adopted the technology. As far as I know, no one has found a use for amplifying independent strings. (The Roland gear processes the strings independently, but you still get a mono or stereo audio signal.) What do they think guitarists are gonna do, set up hexaphonic sound systems to play their guitars through? It might be an interesting novelty at an arena show, but it sure as hell doesn't scale down to the club (or living room) level.

And then there's the cost... $2 for a nice Switchcraft jack vs. (and I'm being charitable here) $50 for a PC board in the guitar and another who-knows-how-much for an adapter to get the signal back to a 1/4" plug that'll fit my Marshall/Mesa/Fender/Peavey/... amp. Or maybe Gibson's planning a line of MAGIC amplifiers, hoping that guitarists will buy their amps because the plugs fit.

Don't get me wrong... Gibson's MAGIC may have some useful applications. I just don't see any benefit in cramming this into guitars.

July 13 2003 07:29:57 GMT