It looks like a guitar, shaped like a guitar, and can be set to sound like any kind of guitar you can think of, but it’s not really a guitar. Like those ”guitars” that you typically see used for games like Rock Band, the Misa digital guitar doesn’t come with strings. It’s not a toy, but seasoned guitar players might actually learn to have a bit of fun with this though.
The frets are all still there and you still need to have guitar-playing skills, so you can’t really use this to fake it like you would through the four buttons on a Rock Band kit. But it really isn’t a guitar—that much is obvious. It’s actually a MIDI controller that’s shaped to look like one. Whether or not that gives you “rockstar credibility” is up in the air, although it sure as hell looks cooler than this (it’s called a keytar, by the way).
Like the standard electric guitar, Misa’s digital kit comes with 24 frets. In place of strings that rockers can pluck or shred, the right hand “controls sound,” allowing you to intuitively control the sustain, pitch, cutoffs and other synth traits by stroking the touchscreen. It still sounds like the real deal though, if the real thing was plugged through a mess of digital pedals and sound synthesizers. At the very least, it can be digitally tweaked to sound like the real thing. The kit runs on a Linux operating system, and comes with open source guitar software that allows anyone to tweak and mod it to their liking.
Whether it might be something you’d want to use or not probably depends on your views on music. But if someone put a gun up to our heads and made us play naked on-stage with a choice between the Misa guitar or a keytar covering our privates—like the 90’s Red Hot Chili Peppers, although no one forced them to do it—we’d go for the digital guitar. We feel the glowing touchscreen has a better chance of keeping people’s eyes on the fact that we have nothing but socks on.
Fun-fact-that-has-nothing-to-do-with-the-topic #119: How did the Red Hot Chili Peppers manage to keep the socks on during their performances? According to drummer Chad Smith, “the key is to get it around the balls. People don’t realize that.”