Test-Drive Stay Tuned

Guitarists often muse that one spends more time tuning one's guitar than actually playing it. They might change their minds when they get a load of the new Gibson Robot Guitar. It's a self-tuning instrument that Gibson says ")will change the guitar world forever."

We asked Wilco guitarist nels Cline (one of Rolling Stone's "Top 20 New Guitar Gods" and leader of the Nels Cline Singers-with, ahem, no singers) to take it for a spin around the studio.

The instrument features Gibson's new Powertune System, which automatically tunes it to standard (440 hertz) or alternative tunings. all you have to do is pull up a knob, strum a string, wait for the LEDs to turn green, then push the knob back in. The string's tuned.

So is it amazing? "Hell, no," says Cline after playing around with it for an hour. "I wouldn't recommend it-never, not in a million years." But what did he really think? "If you were on a gig and you're trying to get a different tuning and you're strumming, wait for the lights to blink, you'd look like an idiot," he says.

True, Cline didn"t study the 50-plus-page instruction manual, relyig instead on the six-page excerpt provide by Gibson. Still, he found the instrument rather complicated for onstage performance.

And what if you're not a professional and you just want a really cool guitar? Perhaps. "It's a toy," Cline says. "A beautiful toy."

Thierry Peremarti

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