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TCTV: Up Close With The Gibson Firebird X Robot Guitar

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Guitar-maker Gibson has a problem on their hands. After nearly a century of producing some of the most storied guitars in existence for, from the Les Paul electrics to genre-defining acoustics, Gibson has taken a turn into the space age. With the launch of their latest creation, the Firebird X, however, fans have been up in arms about styling, gimmicks and, most important, Gibson’s embrace of the digital.

I sat down with Mark McCabe, a Gibson rep, to run through this new guitar and to discuss the company’s new product line. As an amateur player, I can assure you that this guitar is amazingly cool, especially the on-board controls and the Bluetooth-connected pedals. I understand why the naysayers would call this more a toy – in an era where electronica and Guitar Hero gets more notice than real guitar heroes, it’s hard to be a git-fiddle lover – but this is a new way to think about the guitar as more than just strings and a resonator. It’s a way for a new generation of musicians to play multiple licks in multiple styles on stage and in the studio and it offers a great way to model loads of effects that have usually been offloaded to expensive analog or digital pedals.

The Firebird X makes a lot of folks angry because it represents progress (it’s also kind of ugly). Mark showed us that this thing is more than a robotic string tuner and a Line 6 amp. The bad thing? This axe costs a little under $6,000.