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Review: Livid Instruments Guitar Wing

March 30, 2015

As more and more of the guitarist’s rack goes virtual, there is a greater need for something to control it all. MIDI-controlled effects offer unprecedented ways to alter guitar performance, and programs such as Native Instruments Guitar Rig can be used to build elaborate guitar-processing setups, with almost every knob and button accessible via Control Change messages. Modern DAW software apps typically include a wealth of guitar-oriented plug-ins, in addition to sophisticated recording and mixing capabilities— all crying out for MIDI control. On top of that, tons of synthesizer plug-ins are just waiting to be played from your four- or six-string axe.

Guitarists, like most humans, have a limited number of appendages to handle all of the opportunities to alter, modulate, and automate. Pedals are fine, but they are generally lacking in the precision afforded by our fingers. Clearly, we need a controller that we can use with our hands, that minimally intrudes on our instrument and technique.

The Livid Instruments Guitar Wing brings the finer control of a keyboard controller to your electric guitar. What’s more, it is a Bluetooth device, eliminating the need for a wired connection with your computer: The package includes a USB-type receiver.

Fig. 1. The Guitar Wing attaches to the lower horn of your electric guitar or bass. Spacers are included to fit the device onto instruments of various sizes.
Guitar Wing fits onto the lower horn of your electric guitar or bass by means of a plastic, rubber-covered clamp attached to the bottom of the control surface (see Figure 1). The included spacers can be used to accommodate guitars with different dimensions, and you can adjust the angle of the wing to one of three positions. The unit fit snugly on my Epiphone Genesis.

WING COMMANDER

Guitar Wing’s surface is covered with pads, buttons, and channels that serve as touch faders. With the exception of four switches on the side of the unit, all controls are illuminated, color coded, and animated to indicate activity. A micro-USB port—strictly for charging the unit’s Lithium Ion battery—sits on the side next to the power switch. The power switch feels stiff and unyielding, and with its knurled edge lying flat against the side of the wing, it makes it difficult to toggle. An easy-to-grasp, protruding switch would make it easier to access, especially in live performance.

By default, all control objects (with the exception of the accelerometer) send MIDI Note On messages, and the pads can send a combination of notes and Control Change (CC) messages. Guitar Wing’s accelerometer enables motion control, sending independent messages over X, Y, and Z axes; you are free to send CCs, Pitch Bend, After-touch, or no message, if your movements require no extraneous output.

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