As a gigging musician, I have a fantasy where I arrive at a show with nothing but a guitar, get on stage and immediately start playing. There's no Gorgon's hair of tangled cords, no endless lines of effects pedals, no massive amplifier to carry. No fuss.
The Fusion Guitar on the Indiegogo crowdfunding site is a big step toward the realization of that fantasy.
At first glance, the Fusion Guitar looks recognizable as a regular ax, but with an unusual headstock. Look closer and you notice the speakers built into the top of the body, a feature reminiscent of some guitars manufactured by Teisco in the 1960s. The guitar sports humbucker pickups, a 12-hour battery life and a 20-watt amp to power the speakers.
The whole kit weighs under 9 pounds. It has a maple neck that extends through the composite body, giving it what Fusion describes as "the exact tone of a traditional electric guitar."
Fusion could have stopped at the point of mooshing a speaker into a modern guitar and called it a day, but the creators wanted it to be even more high-tech, so they added an iPhone dock into the mix. Your iPhone can be used to select different effects and amp modeling features, putting everything from face-melting distortion to the sweet tones of an old tube amp right under your fingertips.
The iPhone integration lets players follow along with instructional videos or take advantage of teaching apps to learn the instrument or improve their skills. You can use it to record your guitar masterpieces as well.
The guitar works with the iPhone 6, 6S, 5, 5S and fifth-generation iPod Touch. Android users who want to try out the guitar will probably want to at least invest in the compatible iPod Touch to get the most out of it. The dock can be removed and swapped out to accommodate different phones and to future-proof the instrument for when new iPhones come out.
The guitar is loud enough to get you through a bluegrass jam session: Fusion says it is "several times the perceived volume of the average acoustic guitar." But it won't fill up Royal Albert Hall with sound when you've got a few thousand screaming fans in front of you. In that case, you can plug it into a regular guitar amplifier and keep on rocking.
The Fusion Guitar launched Monday on Indiegogo with a $60,000 flexible funding goal and 30 days to run. Some limited early-bird guitars are available for a $399 (about £60, AU$560) pledge. The price will go up as the first round sells out. Just keep in mind the usual crowdfunding warning that not every product is delivered as promised or on time.
Musicians who already use a guitar interface with their iPhones will be able to seamlessly move to the Fusion. For others, it will open up a whole new galaxy of guitar apps, effects, tones and recording possibilities.
Those vintage guitars with built-in amplifiers have all sorts of cool cachet these days. It makes sense to take the concept and modernize it, soak it in mobile apps and turn out a high-tech instrument suitable for sitting on the beach or plugging in for a club gig. Plus, it looks cool, like someone mixed together the aesthetics of Darth Vader and a Cylon and molded them into a guitar.