January 24, 2007

Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water...

by Chris Randall

So Elle and I are on a brief vacation (because I'm not out of the office enough already) to celebrate our 12th anniversary of marriage, and I'm on the hotel wi-fi cruising through Zicos, and this little blurb catches my eye:

METALIEN iAXE629-MA USB GUITAR plugs straight into your PC or Mac computer without the need for any other hardware. The package includes "Guitar Combos BEHRINGER Edition" modeling software from Native Instruments, which turns your computer into a guitar amp.

Now, I can certainly understand the need to make a dollar or two. That makes perfect sense to me. Especially if you're broke. But there's this little thing called "pride," and quite frankly, I'm wondering how bad Native Instruments needs to make money at this point. I mean, really, now. Come on, guys.



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Jan.25.2007 @ 12:12 PM
The first person to make a "full of techno" joke in response to joshua_schnable is a rotten egg.

Jan.25.2007 @ 12:36 PM
Rex - now, I *know* you're not ragging on Windy & Carl, right? Because if you were, I'd have to bitch-slap you. Or would that be a pimp-slap?

But, I agree with your two main points:
1) A USB guitar, while hardly a replacement for a '59 Strat, could have a lot of really great uses.
2) So many products begin with a specific use in mind (usually a really bad/cheezy/crappy one thought up by some marketing slug), and then wind up being used/desired for something completely different.

Oh, and the 303 is indeed totally lame.

But, I agree with what CR said the other day: "No fucking trance."


Jan.25.2007 @ 1:08 PM
Hey Rex,

FYI the Roland is a TB303 as opposed to a TR303. As far as I know, TB stands for "Transistor Bass" and TR for "Transistor Rhythm." IMO don't be raggin on a synth if you haven't actually gotten to mess around with one. I dunno if you have played with a real 303 before (all the emulation are quite lackluster), but there is something ridiculously infectious about its sound to some people (including myself).

I'm on the same boat as far as trance goes.
None of it. It can just go away forever as far as I'm concerned.

USB guitars are pretty cool. Has any of you seen that crazy new digital Gibson guitar? It sends each string on its own separate channel. Imagine the mixing possibilities! I think I've heard of some firewire guitars as well, with the same output capabilities.


Jan.25.2007 @ 1:09 PM
Wow... I thought I would get bitch slapped about dissing the TR-303, not about dissing Windy and Carl.

I own several Windy and Carl CDs, I do actually enjoy listening to them on occasion (usually when I don't want the music to be too much of a distraction, just some pleasant background noise). But lets face it, they aren't exactly the paragons of high production values or musicianship. You have a couple guitars with lots of reverb, some slightly-off-key vocals with lots of reverb... and you have the Windy and Carl formula right there. If you took all my Windy and Carl CDs, switched up all their cases, I would probably pop in the CD and not even notice that it was the wrong album.


Jan.25.2007 @ 1:32 PM
"Wow... I thought I would get bitch slapped about dissing the TR-303, not about dissing Windy and Carl."

Actually, more shocking is that you didn't get bitch slapped for calling it the TR-303 instead of the TB-303. The techno nazis must be getting lax with their spidey sense.

No arguments from me on the 303 as a thing unto itself. Pretty dull when considered simply as a synthesizer, although its historical position looms large and its limited palette is cool enough in its limited way.

But what exactly would a USB guitar bring to the table that's unique? It'll still sound and perform like a guitar in the end, just in a way that'll be most offensive to people who are attuned to hearing the chain through which the signal passes. For the most part, it just simplifies the number of components it takes for what you already get with a Line6 PodXT.


Jan.25.2007 @ 1:33 PM
'We've turned down dozens of bundling opportunities just because we didn't like the company that offered them, or didn't feel the product in question fit our idea of what was "cool."'



Jan.25.2007 @ 4:15 PM
...then my question to all y'all is:

Who's a bigger chump: the person who spends @$250 for a cheap USB guitar and software or the person who spends @$3,000 for a signature model guitar from Gibson or Fender?

It's easy to make fun of the hype behind some of the regrettably cheap gear out there, but the breathless ad copy and endorsements that accompany the expensive stuff are every bit as offensive.


Jan.25.2007 @ 4:32 PM
penzoil washington
NI is a biz that feeds a full staff. If anything, they're too cool for their own good: most of their products are overkill (for the US market at least, where I imagine the biggest users of soft synths are beginners, hiphppers, etc., not micro-electronica geeks).

Jan.26.2007 @ 2:05 AM
I've got to agree... Native Instruments are my second favorite plugin/soft synth manufacturer (right behind AD of course). I'm all for them making a little money every now and again. I bought Komplete / Kore when they had the bundle going and I couldn't be happier with the product I received. (Not that I'm to big on the whole Kore universal plugin format shite, but the hardware fit the bill for me perfectly. A basic extra input some spare knobs 'n' buttons and transport controls.) And not a month goes by without NI sending me some little freebie in my mailbox (e- or snail). Heck, they gave just about everybody a free download of Massive because the shipping of the new version of Komplete got held up a few days. If a deal with those of the cheap and plastic helps pay for all of my upgrades and freebies (not to mention a fantastic support staff) then load on the techno! It's like Steven Soderbergh... every bloated worthless Ocean's Thirteen he does pays for a finely crafted gem like Bubble or Traffic.

Jan.26.2007 @ 3:21 AM
Well, I just think those usb guitars I've seen til now are simply ugly.

But if someone makes a cool model, uhm, I could buy it just to do sonic experiments like Rex Rhino said...


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