Imagine if you were a guitar player and you wanted your ax to produce a Swiss army knife assortment of instrument sounds.
That musical fantasy is now reality with the invention of a guitar that comes with a built-in computer processor that replicates virtually any synthesized or keyboard-generated sound with the touch of a button.
Mark Forrest and Electron Sound & Percussion are bringing in Montreal guitar player Carl Langevin to demonstrate the Fender/Roland V-Guitar G5 during a free event at Art Space tonight at 7 p.m. The instrument Langevin will be playing is a Fender Stratocaster which has a Roland VG electronic processor built into its body.
"The stuff they are coming out with is amazing," said Forrest, co-owner of Electron.
"This is the first time they've actually put [the processor] into the guitar and we're getting interesting response on this thing. Guys are looking at it and they're thinking, 'If I can do all this with just one guitar, that would be really cool.'
"It also has a 15-pin connector on it that plugs you into guitar processors which expand you into symphonic sounds and synthesizer sounds. So the guitar player becomes much more than a guitar player at that point."
Six different pickups, one under each string, are under the V-Guitar processor's control, and by turning a knob to a different setting the guitarist can instantly adjust the tuning without touching the string keys.
The VG-99 V-Guitar multi-effects processor has a built-in memory that models famous guitar sounds, including several Les Paul variations, a nylon string guitar and a resonator. The synthesizer can make your guitar sound model a Beatles sitar or a banjo and with the touch of a button you can instantly launch into a Jimmy Page Telecaster riff, then switch to make it sound like a variety of Fender acoustic models.
Forrest pointed to the example of Steve Stevens, lead guitarist for Billy Idol, who was unable to play Idol's hit Flesh For Fantasy live because it required three different guitars. Once Stevens picked up on the Roland technology, that became possible on stage with a simple stomp of his foot.
Forrest said the Roland technology is also available for bass guitars.
"You can take your average four-string guitar and play any sort of bass sound, including stand-up bass, with your guitar," said Forrest.
To watch the V-guitar being demonstrated, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH-gI5XD0n8.
"Roland came out with V-drums [electric virtual drums] in the early '90s and they literally changed the way people look at drumming," said Forrest. "So what they've done here is come out with a virtual guitar that allows the player to be able to play different forms of music and different stringed instrument sounds throughout an evening and play it on one guitar."
Electron is establishing a pattern of bringing professional guitarists in for free clinics, starting with Vinnie Paul Abbott of Pantera in 2006. In February, 140 local players turned out at Art Space to see a clinic by Deep Purple lead guitarist Steve Morse just before Morse joined his band on stage for their CN Centre concert.
"I've had so many people come to me and say, 'He changed the way I think about things,'" said Forrest. "I think the V-Guitar is going to wake a few people up as well."