Move Over Rover, Let Jimi Take Over.There have been some timeless innovators when it comes to playing rock and roll guitar. Jimi Hendrix was a legend. Peter Frampton gave us the talkie. And Adrian Belew blew us all away with his twang bar skills. Now, according to an article in Electronic Design, innovation is in your hands, thanks to a company called Source Audio and their finger-fitting guitar effects module, the Hot Hand.
The Hot Hand fits on the finger of your picking hand like a ring, albeit a rather cumbersome ring, and has an accelerometer built in. An accompanying control box lets you dial in (turn it up to 11) the types and levels of "wah" you want including frequencies and sensitivity. Motion then allows the user to determine the strength and length of the intended effect based on strumming or picking technique. So, whether you want to be Pete Townsend of The Who or Angus Young of AC/DC, Hot Hand will give you a helping hand.
Source Audio is the brainchild of a couple of former Analog Devices (ADI) engineers, Jesse Remignanti and Roger Smith. These two came up with the idea of motion-controlled effects, by sheer chance during an ADI technical conference. As luck would have it, Remignanti and Smith were at an exhibit table. Their neighbors were an accelerometer product team. The brainstorming began immediately followed shortly thereafter by experimentation (which we all know is a beloved pastime in the music industry).
Once the decision was made to launch Source Audio, Bob Chidlaw, a scientist from Kurzweil, was brought on board to help fine-tune the digital effects. According to Source Audio co-founder Jesse Remignanti, "We decided that incorporating an accelerometer would give us a way to really differentiate our products, to stand out from the crowd. Other companies have tried motion control for guitars, but no one has done it effectively until now."
But why is motion control so important? After all, a guitar is an instrument that's strummed to produce sound? Anyone who plays the guitar and has a passion for it, knows that that's just not true. According to Mark David, guitar aficionado and the original author of the article on Hot Hand for Electronic Design many guitarists use their entire body to play the guitar, something started by the late, great Jimi Hendrix. The constant positioning of the guitar in relation to the body and amplifiers allows the sound to interact, creating what David refers to as a "sonic zone" where each movement changes the wall of sound.
"Critics who say gyrating rock guitarists are just posturing don't understand this amazing interplay of body, emotion and electronics," David says. "I most recently encountered this style of playing at an Audioslave concert. The group's guitarist, Tom Morello, is a master of this technique, and he truly blew me away."
Source Audio's original thought was to attach the device to the guitar but, through trial and error, they found out that the device worked much better on the hand. For the Hot Hand, the engineers used Audio Devices iMems Sensors, originally designed for airbag deployment. Because of the worldwide volume sales of these sensors, the price point was where it needed to be. And with their small size, the sensors were perfect for use in the Hot Hand. The guitar effects module also uses an Audio Devices SigmaDSP. When plugged in to a 56-bit audio processor, the Hot Hand really took shape, or sound, as things would have it.
In the end, it just goes to show... you can be a rock star without even playing a lick.
Read Mark David's original article for Electronic Design here