Gibson Dusk Tiger ($4,128 MSRP)

What Technologically advanced guitar system for studio stage including “Robot” (automatic) tuning, Chameleon Tone Technology, FireWire interface that can break out piezo magnetic individual string outputs for recording, low impedance balanced out or standard out, 13 pin output compatible with

What: Technologically advanced guitar system for studio/stage including “Robot” (automatic) tuning, Chameleon Tone Technology, FireWire interface that can break out piezo/magnetic/individual string outputs for recording, low-impedance balanced out or standard out, 13-pin output compatible with Roland/Axon guitar synth systems, and cross-platform software suite (Ableton Live 8 Gibson Studio Edition, Guitar Rig 4, Echo Audio Console for interface, Chameleon Editor).


The lit button is the Master Control Knob, which is the user interface to the guitar’s functionality.

Why: Delivers a supremely flexible instrument for guitarists who want to go beyond the standard electric guitar paradigm, yet still want a familiar look, feel, and playability.

Installation: Having software and a FireWire interface requires installation, but no more or less than other FireWire interface/software packages.

Learning curve: Compared to its predecessor, Dark Fire, the guitar’s “operating system” and clickstream are considerably simplified. However, you’ll still need the documentation to find out how to access the 11 banks of 8 presets, program alternate tunings, and the like.

Best bits: Robot tuning technology is not a gimmick—no human can tune six strings simultaneously, or jump to alternate tunings in seconds. Feed the individual string outputs into a computer, and you can achieve mind-boggling sounds—it’s like the guitar equivalent of a keyboard’s split/layer options. Then augment the individual strings by mixing in the standard magnetic and piezo outs, and if you can’t get huge, rich sounds, consider a different career. The Chameleon Tone technology provides the equivalent of “analog modeling,” as it achieves different iconic guitar sounds via pickup switching, coil tapping, and EQ—all of which are editable with the Chameleon Editor software, which also makes it easy to share presets with other Dusk Tiger owners. The pickup toggle rotates to give a blend of piezo and magnetic sounds, even without a computer; this is way cool. The guitar itself is very playable and benefits from the PLEK setup. Unlike Dark Fire, the battery is non-proprietary and instantly swappable.

Limitations: Unfortunately, the price will be out of reach for most guitarists. Also, compared to the dignified Dark Fire, some are horrified by Dusk Tiger’s look, while others love it (but reserve judgment until you’ve seen it under stage lighting, where it can look spectacular). I initially didn’t know what to make of it, but have grown to love its daring vibe.

Bottom line: I’ve played many great electric guitars, but Dusk Tiger is an electronic guitar that explores totally new territories. It has changed the way I play, record, perform, and write in profound and significant ways, while still feeling like a warm, familiar guitar rather than some technological freak show. Now that I’ve experienced it, I can’t live without out it.

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