Gibson Memory Cable smooshes recorder into guitar cable (hands-on)

Gibson has taken a guitar cable and melded a compact Tascam recorder right into the middle of it to record your noodling for posterity.

Gibson Memory Cable
It's a guitar cable with a bonus. Amanda Kooser/CNET

It's easy to get lost in the rock. You're playing a killer solo. The world has slowed to a crawl around you. It's magic, a special moment in time, lost forever because you didn't record it. Unless you had your Gibson Memory Cable hooked up. The hybrid guitar cable and recorder is like a little audio notepad that picks up everything you play. It can capture that inspired moment and save it for posterity and later reference. I had to give it a try.

I've been scratching my head a bit about the $99 Gibson Memory Cable. Its main purpose is to record your guitar. It's not as handy as a scratchpad for songwriting if you want to also record vocals. Instrumental composers and guitarists who don't want to forget the perfect lick in the heat of an improvisation session will find plenty to like here, though.

My first experience with the Memory Cable was a letdown, solely due to user error. I either failed to completely click the microSD card into place, or I jostled it out when I closed the cover. I don't think I missed any great moments of genius at band practice that night, though. I now know to be more careful.

I turned to my bandmates to get their take on the gadget. The bass player/drummer suggested that everyone in a band could have one. There's no need for an isolation booth. You could just meld together the recordings from everyone's Memory Cables to make a quick multi-track song. The other guitarist thought it simply sounded like a handy thing to have around.

If I really want to combine vocals and guitar simultaneously, I can run the Memory Cable through the out on my little acoustic combo amp, which accommodates a mic and guitar input at the same time. It doesn't have to be plugged into anything on the other end in order to work. This is not a bad option for a quick at-home recording arrangement, so long as I'm willing to sit there with a mic instead of roaming around the living room like I usually do when I'm writing a song.

I'm no audiophile, but I was pleasantly pleased by the sound quality captured by the Tascam recorder. It was simple to just pop the memory card out, plug it into my computer, and listen right away to what I had just played. The sound was clean and clear coming from both my acoustic and my electric guitars. It runs on an AA battery and can record up to 13 hours of playing, which should cover all but the most epic of jam sessions.

My final verdict on the Memory Cable is that it's a bit of a what-the-hell purchase for a musician like me. It costs about the same as a high-end premium instrument cable, so why not? (Case in point: this Steve Vai signature cable).

As I've played with it and used it, it has grown on me. I can record clean guitar tracks wherever I happen to be and lay vocals over them later. There's no messing with elaborate recording rigs. I don't have to remember to pack a separate recorder, it's just all sitting in my gig bag along with my pedals and guitar strap. Who knows, maybe someday I will truly capture musical lightning in a cable.

Tags:
Crave
Gadgets
About the author

Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET's Crave blog. When not wallowing in weird gadgets and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.

 

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