Technology is something wonderful… After the alternate tunings models in the Variax from Line 6 (you can check my review of the Variax 700 though I didn’t talk about the open tunings)… After the Gibson Robots, and the Dusk Tiger… After the Evertune bridge that provides the most stable tuning ever… Here is the self-tuning guitar by Fret King: The Fret King Super-Matic v2.
The Wilkinson Self-Tuning Bridge
The Fret King solution was developed by Trev Wilkinson, and takes place in the bridge of the guitar with this new ATD HT440 bridge. This bridge combines motorized micro tuners, and a hex pickup that both allow the guitar to change tunings in a very simple way. All you got to do is:
- Select the tuning preset
- Strum the strings
- Let the bridge tune itself
It couldn’t be easier, isn’t it? Well this is not the first time that a manufacturer chose the bridge solution to enhance the tuning capacities of a guitar. Off the top of my head I can remember the hipshot trilogy bridge (hipshot website) which is a pure mechanical solution or the TransPerformance guitar (see it here) that looks a little bit like the Fret King solution though it seems more complex, bigger (and unfortunately not very pretty). The Fret King system looks much user friendly as you can activate it with one finger. It has 4 tunings presets (Standard, Open D, DADGAD, and Open G), and you can program in up to 5 personal open tunings. So having up to 9 presets to remember shouldn’t be that hard to do I guess.
Is this System Reliable?
That I couldn’t tell as the guitar will be shown at Summer NAMM 2010, and only a happy few were lucky to try it at Fret King’s home. Yet, I have about 3 questions that are already popping in my mind:
- How the bridge tuners will behave if you want to try some weird open tunings i.e. does it have enough play to loosen the strings down to an open C for example? I admit this is not the weirdest tuning ever, but it’s sure pretty loose.
- I guess changing the guitar strings should be a bit more tricky? Well that being said, it shouldn’t be as tricky as changing strings with a Floyd Rose bridge!!
- More general concern… Guitar necks are not made of soft wood, and they sure are solid in general but I wonder how it would react with constant tuning changes (especially if you dig EBEEBE tuning or New Standard Tuning)? Obviously, this is not specific to the Fret King self-tuning guitar.
Well that’s enough questions for today… I sure would be glad to answer these, if Mr Fret King comes around that’s a message! Or maybe I will be able to gather enough money to attend Summer NAMM though I’d rather go to Winter NAMM to see California!
Here is the first video of the Fret King Super-matic which is more or less made to show us “how easy it is to use it“, and doesn’t give much technical information.