the incremental future of the guitar ?

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sev112sev112 Frets: 834
Interesting set of articles in Guitar magazine this month, about the future of the guitar.  They got a “panel of industry luminaries” and quizzed them about “where they see the guitar heading in 2020 and beyond. we asked a panel of industry movers and shakers to look into the crystal balls and tell us what they think the future holds for this most uniquely varied and exciting instrument”

its worth reading, but I found it a tad or more disappointing that none of them are saying anything along the lines of “keep your eyes open but in the next few years we have some secret innovations that we are certain will add to / change the guitar”.  I don’t think you would hear the following kind of quotes from car manufacturers, hi Fi and electronics manufacturers, house builders,  toys, computers, white goods, tennis racquets, trainers etc etc
(These are extracts, I’ve not said who they are from, as I am sure there is some copywtight aspects if I start quoting lots of stuff from a commercial magazine.

“the very real possibilty that brand-new guitars will be able to outmanoeuvre classic vintage instruments.”

“continue to develop and learn and incorporate ever deepening understanding into what you make; A small guitar shop has the benefit of being able to make discoveries and quickly incorporate new  ideas into the next guitar; a large manufacturer has far more difficult time responding.   We are dedicated to a path of improving our guitars”

“overall we are looking at ways to integrate functionality and technology into new products; I suppose the best answer I can offer is that we are looking at combining the best elements of what is available to players today with products which can perform and last”

“since our designs on modular there is no shortage of interesting lots of interpretations of vintage gear.  The great thing about the guitar as an instrument is that it can find a space in any type of music so I think the future for guitar is solid”


Is this what sets the guitar industry out from other manufacturing and product industries - that innovation and future business success and stability comes from doing the same just a bit better?  Or is this a wider aspect of musical instruments in general?  You don’t see many innovations in violins and trumpets as a rule (apart from the odd few made out of plastic) when you look at how they’ve changed over a few hundred years.

Maybe they have to save their thoughts for the future for big marketing activities such as NAMM etc, rather than magazine interviews?

Thoughts ?



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  • robertyroberty Frets: 2350
    I honestly think the electric guitar has been designed and improvements now will be incremental. The innovation is in DSP. Pickups and effects are better than they've ever been but we still rely on classic designs/circuits by and large
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  • Not to mention how resistant to change the guitar buying customer generally is. 

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  • sev112sev112 Frets: 834
    Not to mention how resistant to change the guitar buying customer generally is. 

    This is interesting - but how many of we “resistant guitar buying public” want vintage washing machines, vintage tennis racquets, vintage cars that we use for our business / commuting every day etc ?

    are we resistant because we have been conditioned to be this way ?
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  • SassafrasSassafras Frets: 19631
    Most "innovations" are made in the hype.
    There's not much can be done to a six stringed instrument that hasn't already been tried.
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  • axisusaxisus Frets: 16232
    I'm not looking for new innovations in guitar personally, I like Strats, Tele's, LPs, SGs. I like the old vibe. 

    I bought a Parker Fly Classic years ago, it was a brilliant guitar with an incredible action and so easy to play. I liked it a lot but ultimately I just preferred my older style guitars with higher action.

    I'm happy for anyone to think about new ideas, but I probably won't be buying into them myself. 
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  • guitars4youguitars4you Frets: 7391
    tFB Trader
    I'm sure there are other examples, but 2 obvious ideas of modern technology were the Parker Fly and the Steinberger - Both had expensive R&D programmes - Neither are poor instruments, but they did not exactly set the world alight , for whatever reason that might be

    I agree with one comment about small workshops leading the way - The 5 way switch on a Strat was not initially released by Fender - Fender joined the club later - Ditto, flatter fingerboard radius + chunky frets

    Maybe as a 'grumpy old git' I'm not looking for changes - Take the Tele - The Granddad of the electric guitar - It was obviously never designed to be played in so many styles as it can be found in today - From Country and jazz, to punk and classic rock the same old boring, traditional guitar, can deliver the goods - It is more about how you use it that counts

    IMO the biggest change in the last 20/30 years is the quality of low-mid end production guitars, mainly from the far east 

    Maybe not in the guitar itself, but to guitar players, then recording has seen massive advances since the 2 track reel to reel - This alone has allowed bedroom players so much access to 'paint their own pictures' 
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  • DulcetJonesDulcetJones Frets: 492
    I understand that these people are on the supply side of the industry but I can't help thinking that the best thing for this industry would be numerous guitar based hit songs with catchy guitar hooks that find a way to reach todays audience.  With the apparent demise of commercial radio the bigger challenge is finding out how to reach todays audience. 

    “To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first, and call whatever you hit the target.”– Ashleigh Brilliant


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  • p90foolp90fool Frets: 18265
    Not to mention how resistant to change the guitar buying customer generally is. 

    Why shouldn't they be resistant to change? 

    It's a 90 year old instrument with a known tonal pallette and repertoire.

    Do clarinettists constantly come under fire for simply wanting a good clarinet?

    Once an instrument is established you innovate by writing innovative music, not by constantly fucking with the design of the instrument itself, that's just navel gazing of the highest order. 

    True technical innovation in the world of electric guitars is mainly about increasing amplifier portability, apart from that maybe we should write some songs instead of pretending we need carbon fibre guitars. 
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  • ClarkyClarky Frets: 3243
    what would you guys consider to be the last big innovation?
    play every note as if it were your first
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  • sev112 said:
     I am sure there is some copywtight aspects if I start quoting lots of stuff from a commercial magazine.



    I know this is nothing to do with the OP really, but there actually isn't any issue with quoting from a commercial mag. You're covered by fair use laws that state if you're quoting for the purposes of criticism, teaching, new reporting, commentary, and parody, then you're not committing any copyright infringement.
    TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE DISASTER
    Anyone who attempts to silence you and prevent you from asking questions on complicated topics, is intent on deceiving you with simplistic answers.

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  • p90fool said:
    Not to mention how resistant to change the guitar buying customer generally is. 

    Why shouldn't they be resistant to change? 

    It's a 90 year old instrument with a known tonal pallette and repertoire.

    Do clarinettists constantly come under fire for simply wanting a good clarinet?

    Once an instrument is established you innovate by writing innovative music, not by constantly fucking with the design of the instrument itself, that's just navel gazing of the highest order. 

    True technical innovation in the world of electric guitars is mainly about increasing amplifier portability, apart from that maybe we should write some songs instead of pretending we need carbon fibre guitars. 
    This is exactly how I look at it too.

    Innovation for innovation's sake is a waste of time. I know the areas where I need innovation, and it isn't anything to do with the instruments I play. It's to do with how songs are created, how they're delivered and consumed, and how they're purchased and sold.
    TACOMA NARROWS BRIDGE DISASTER
    Anyone who attempts to silence you and prevent you from asking questions on complicated topics, is intent on deceiving you with simplistic answers.

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 48571
    edited January 4
    p90fool said:
    Not to mention how resistant to change the guitar buying customer generally is. 
    Why shouldn't they be resistant to change? 

    It's a 90 year old instrument with a known tonal pallette and repertoire.

    Do clarinettists constantly come under fire for simply wanting a good clarinet?

    Once an instrument is established you innovate by writing innovative music, not by constantly fucking with the design of the instrument itself, that's just navel gazing of the highest order. 

    True technical innovation in the world of electric guitars is mainly about increasing amplifier portability, apart from that maybe we should write some songs instead of pretending we need carbon fibre guitars. 
    This. What real improvements have been made to Amati's classic violin design in the last 300 years, other than the introduction of better strings and fine tuners? They have evolved slightly in that the neck angles and bridge heights are greater than they were originally, but the same basic design is still useful for playing any genre of music that needs a violin.

    One of the things that's great about the traditional passive magnetic-pickup electric guitar is that the parts are easily interchangeable, extremely reliable and not subject to built-in obsolescence. Putting different technology into them which negates these things is a backward step, to me... a 50s Strat will still be usable long after the last Variax. (That's also why I dislike electro-acoustics that have anything more than a simple pickup in the guitar.)

    Even so, it's slightly frustrating that so many people seem to want electric guitars that are *exactly* the same as the classic 50s and 60s designs - or a few from later periods - rather than simply using the best aspects of them. In some ways there was more sensible innovation in the late 70s and 80s, especially from the Japanese manufacturers, than there is now.

    More advanced effect processing and amplification is a different ballgame entirely and that's where the biggest progress can be made. If I have a prediction to make it's that the technology of the TC Polytune and the new Boss guitar synths - where the software can work out what strings have been played from a simple mono signal connection, so it doesn't rely on a complex system with a special pickup and multicore cable - is going to become much more prevalent, because it opens up so much more sound creation and shaping but can be used with any standard guitar and playing technique.

    (Does anyone have an SY-1 for sale yet? )

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • LitterickLitterick Frets: 86
    The guitar industry is dominated by manufacturers who are still making designs they invented in the 1950s. These designs are dutifully copied by other large manufacturers and small firms. In the last couple of decades, manufacturers have been damaging their guitars to make them look old and 'road-worn’. Much of the marketing is about people playing authentic, heartland, double-denim music in bars and barns.

    The Music Man St Vincent is the only notable new guitar design made in recent years, and even that is based on 1950s ideas. The guitar will not be developed while the industry remains mired in the past
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  • rocktronrocktron Frets: 592
    Guitar players are a very conservative group preferring traditional instruments.

    Only recently, Gibson introduced Robot Tuners on their guitars, but traditionalists didn't like them and they were withdrawn.

    Many progressive thinking guitarists thought Robot Tuners were a welcome development, but I believe that it had a detrimental effect on Gibson sales. I don't think they will be reintroduced anytime soon.  
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  • soma1975soma1975 Frets: 3664
    For the record people didn't like the robot tuners because they were not optional and they were shite. Far faster to tune up with manual tuners. It was a case of the tech not being mature enough and being released across the brand and so everyone suffered them and vowed never again. 

    If they had made the tech perfect and fast and limited it to a few models it would have had much more success. Instead it was like a forced Windows OS update that constantly causes BSOD crashes. You're gonna switch to Mac after a while...
    My Trade Feedback Thread is here

    Been uploading old tracks I recorded ages ago and hopefully some new noodles here.
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  • VibetronicVibetronic Frets: 620
    edited January 4
    I like new stuff, I think it's good. I got a Strandberg as it's actually been made to be ergonomic and comfortable to play, and has a few things about it that make it better for playing the music I do; it's a big improvement on the first 7-strings, and the music is not anything I could knock out on a Tele or Strat. It's not huge changes from the origins of the electric guitar, but little things over time that have led to it. Likewise the other guitars I have with carbon fibre reinforced necks etc so they don't move, improved electronics with much more diverse tonal options etc. I definitely don't want to be stuck with a guitar designed in the 50s that has stayed at that stage of development....fair enough if that's your thing, but I really like new ideas, even if they are shit (I have a Casio guitar; it is definitely shit). I think robot tuners would be amazing if they actually worked. (Edit: and I definitely want to give an Evertune bridge a go sometime too).
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 48571
    edited January 4
    rocktron said:
    Guitar players are a very conservative group preferring traditional instruments.

    Only recently, Gibson introduced Robot Tuners on their guitars, but traditionalists didn't like them and they were withdrawn.

    Many progressive thinking guitarists thought Robot Tuners were a welcome development, but I believe that it had a detrimental effect on Gibson sales. I don't think they will be reintroduced anytime soon.  
    I didn’t dislike like them because they weren’t traditional. I dislike them because they aren’t reliable.

    The idea may be valid but the implementation was not good enough. They also involved other unwelcome compromises, like a different nut and a wider neck.

    I’m entirely happy with new technology that works better than old technology... but not the other way round.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • ICBM said:
    rocktron said:
    Guitar players are a very conservative group preferring traditional instruments.

    Only recently, Gibson introduced Robot Tuners on their guitars, but traditionalists didn't like them and they were withdrawn.

    Many progressive thinking guitarists thought Robot Tuners were a welcome development, but I believe that it had a detrimental effect on Gibson sales. I don't think they will be reintroduced anytime soon.  
    I didn’t dislike like them because they weren’t traditional. I dislike them because they aren’t reliable.

    The idea may be valid but the implementation was not good enough. They also involved other unwelcome compromises, like a different nut and a wider neck.

    I’m entirely happy with new technology that works better than old technology... but not the other way round.
    I didn’t dislike them because they weren’t traditional or unreliable (not in my experience), they just didn’t work. They consistently failed to tune accurately and had to go. 

    Shame, I really wanted them to work to experiment with different tunings. 
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  • stratman3142stratman3142 Frets: 1162
    ICBM said:
    rocktron said:
    Guitar players are a very conservative group preferring traditional instruments.

    Only recently, Gibson introduced Robot Tuners on their guitars, but traditionalists didn't like them and they were withdrawn.

    Many progressive thinking guitarists thought Robot Tuners were a welcome development, but I believe that it had a detrimental effect on Gibson sales. I don't think they will be reintroduced anytime soon.  
    I didn’t dislike like them because they weren’t traditional. I dislike them because they aren’t reliable.

    The idea may be valid but the implementation was not good enough. They also involved other unwelcome compromises, like a different nut and a wider neck.

    I’m entirely happy with new technology that works better than old technology... but not the other way round.

    I had Robotuners on my 2014 Les Paul but replaced them because they were too slow. I need to rapidly tweak the tuning in a live situation. Robo tuners were just too much faff.

    It's not a competition.
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7718
    Evertune is amazing and a pretty radical innovation but I don’t know if it’ll ever be mainstream.

    I think in general guitars won’t change massively at this stage.
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  • DaevidJDaevidJ Frets: 288
    Perhaps they should just treat guitars like any other stringed instrument. Just keep making them better. 
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  • professorbenprofessorben Frets: 4904
    Clarky said:
    what would you guys consider to be the last big innovation?
    Locking trem and tuner systems. 

    At least the last innovation that enabled higher performance playing. 
    " Why does it smell of bum?" Mrs Professorben.
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  • HAL9000HAL9000 Frets: 6149
    sev112 said:
    Not to mention how resistant to change the guitar buying customer generally is. 

    This is interesting - but how many of we “resistant guitar buying public” want vintage washing machines, vintage tennis racquets, vintage cars that we use for our business / commuting every day etc ?

    I suspect this is because there is a perceived ‘golden era’ for electric guitars (birth of rock and roll, iconic players such as Hendrix and Clapton, etc) that still resonates with a lot of us today. There isn’t an equivalent golden era for washing machines, tennis rackets, etc
    In my hand I hold a piece of perforated paper
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 14773
    HAL9000 said:
    sev112 said:
    Not to mention how resistant to change the guitar buying customer generally is. 

    This is interesting - but how many of we “resistant guitar buying public” want vintage washing machines, vintage tennis racquets, vintage cars that we use for our business / commuting every day etc ?

    I suspect this is because there is a perceived ‘golden era’ for electric guitars (birth of rock and roll, iconic players such as Hendrix and Clapton, etc) that still resonates with a lot of us today. There isn’t an equivalent golden era for washing machines, tennis rackets, etc
    It's also because directly after that golden era of 50's and 60's, everything (particularly from Gibson & Fender) got demonstrably worse. Has there ever been a decade that produced fundamentally worse washing machines and fridges than the decade before it?
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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7718
    Clarky said:
    what would you guys consider to be the last big innovation?

    Evertune

    Fishman Fluence pickups too, but evertune is even more significant IMO because it alters a core characteristic/limitation of the instrument in a way nothing else ever has until now 
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  • fandangofandango Frets: 2175
    HAL9000 said:
    sev112 said:
    Not to mention how resistant to change the guitar buying customer generally is. 

    This is interesting - but how many of we “resistant guitar buying public” want vintage washing machines, vintage tennis racquets, vintage cars that we use for our business / commuting every day etc ?

    I suspect this is because there is a perceived ‘golden era’ for electric guitars (birth of rock and roll, iconic players such as Hendrix and Clapton, etc) that still resonates with a lot of us today. There isn’t an equivalent golden era for washing machines, tennis rackets, etc
    Bjorn Borg played (and won) plenty tournaments using wood tennis racquets. All before the carbon kevlar revolution and associated R&D. How many modern players want to play with a wood racquet now?

    I wish modern guitar manufacturers would stop persisting with the race to be the most faithful and true historic replica. Bores me senseless. C’mon, the LP was soooooo good in 1960, that Gibson couldn’t even give them away, and had to stop production for 10 years. Was it only when Eric Clapton with an old unloved LP joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and made the ‘Beano’ album that the Les Paul kicked off again? I’m thinking that the Les Paul is to guitars what Status Quo is to modern music.

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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 7718
    fandango said:
    HAL9000 said:
    sev112 said:
    Not to mention how resistant to change the guitar buying customer generally is. 

    This is interesting - but how many of we “resistant guitar buying public” want vintage washing machines, vintage tennis racquets, vintage cars that we use for our business / commuting every day etc ?

    I suspect this is because there is a perceived ‘golden era’ for electric guitars (birth of rock and roll, iconic players such as Hendrix and Clapton, etc) that still resonates with a lot of us today. There isn’t an equivalent golden era for washing machines, tennis rackets, etc
    Bjorn Borg played (and won) plenty tournaments using wood tennis racquets. All before the carbon kevlar revolution and associated R&D. How many modern players want to play with a wood racquet now?


    Sport and art aren’t the same thing. You’d be at a huge disadvantage to use vintage equipment in sports but for making music the character of something vintage could still be preferable and in theory can still be used to create something new 
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  • TTBZTTBZ Frets: 1456
    Clarky said:
    what would you guys consider to be the last big innovation?

    Evertune

    Fishman Fluence pickups too, but evertune is even more significant IMO because it alters a core characteristic/limitation of the instrument in a way nothing else ever has until now 
    Really keen to try an Evertune guitar out, think I will try and swing by the ESP booth at NAMM to try out an EC1000! 

    I get so annoyed with tuning issues, especially with my SG which seems flimsier than most. Would be great to have something rock solid in a Les Paul style body. Do you think they nevatively affect tone/sustain at all?
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  • OilCityPickupsOilCityPickups Frets: 5145
    edited January 5 tFB Trader
    As a pickup maker I am seeing more and more customers interested in 7 and eight string options ... and I think it's actually only certain sectors of the guitar buying public that are resistant to change. It will be contentious, but I think the Clapton, Beck, Hendrix etc worshiping 'late boomer' generation with it's insistence on 'no change ever' is a dwindling market. I produce far more pickups for younger, metal players than for the 'grey ponytail' brigade these days.
    Professional pickup winder, horse-testpilot and recovering Chocolate Hobnob addict.
    Formerly TheGuitarWeasel ... Oil City Pickups  ... Oil City Blog

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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 48571

    It will be contentious, but I think the Clapton, Beck, Hendrix etc worshiping 'late boomer' generation with it's insistence on 'no change ever' is a dwindling market.
    There is an irony in this, which is that both Clapton and Beck - and others like Gilmour - have accepted new technology where it’s made their guitars better, especially from a performance point of view... lower noise pickups, active mid boost, roller nut etc. I’d take a bet Jimi would have too, if he was still with us - he hated the problems he had with his live sound, despite some of us chasing an exact reproduction of it...

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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