PHOTO: Steve Sjuggerud reports live from NAMM 2014 as George Lynch (Dokken) shows off the Antares S2. Cell phone screen capture. All photos courtesy Steve Sjuggerud.
Perhaps the best place to begin is...
Your guitar already has tuners, mounted on the headstock or the body. Turn the knob, adjust string tension, and the pitch changes until you have the note you want. Seems simple, right. If someone's not competent enough to tune their own instrument — maybe better to give up guitar. Become a singer, or drummer instead.
That perspective misses the point of Antares Auto-Tune for Guitar.
Let's start by imagining your 6-string electric guitar is tuned EADGBE, just like normal. Reach out and touch a button on your iPad and the computer inside your Antares S2 electronically transposes pitch so the guitar now plays in A minor tuning with the low E assuming a pitch of bass A.
No physical adjustments were made to the strings or mechanical string tuners. But your guitar now sounds like this...
...touch the iPad screen again and your guitar reverts to EADGBE (or any other tuning you can imagine or program). Again, you have not touched your string tuners. You have not needed to change string gauges, or play a baritone/8-string, or adjust the string action, or intonation, etc.
Steve's beautiful original piece of music is just him playing a solo take over a drum click track. A real time performance on one instrument. No overdubs.
The track sounds so crisp. Hard to believe it's one guitar. The possibilities seem endless. What an inspiring piece of gear!
— Gabe Lopez
PHOTO: Dr. Andy (founder of Antares) looks on as Neil Swanson explores the Antares S2 guitar.
PHOTO: Steve Blucher (DiMarzio) refuses to surrender the Antares S2 as a bemused Henrik Bridger (Antares) wonders what will happen next.
Excited reports continue to arrive via email. Sjuggs cleanly dove headfirst into the warm waters of his first NAMM experience and the ripples are spreading...
Steve Sjuggs is one hell of a guy. He broke down the new guitar in full detail, and all I can say is WOW. There were multiple times throughout our conversation where I would just burst into laughter from excitement and disbelief. I feel like I got a glimpse into the future of guitar.
Steve and I had a great time together. He really inspired me. I would like to thank you for bringing us together and giving us a chance to connect. He is a passionate person and I could hear his love for music every time we spoke about it. Music was the topic of the night!
I really liked the feel of the Antares S2. It was the S2 that I love, but slightly different. Laura's designs were gorgeous. Such a unique instrument. Would you consider the guitar hollow body? Or is that arbitrary because the guitar doesn't actually use pickups? Even with Steve breaking down every aspect of the guitar, there's still so much to know! I want one... Haha!
You are full of surprises Rick! I've explained the technology to some of my close friends, and it's causing some serious excitement. I think you're onto something... Something revolutionary. I really mean that.
These last few months have been pure joy. Every time I talk about your guitar I'm filled with happiness and gratitude. Guitar playing hasn't been the same since the S2 proto arrived. It's a different physical and sonic experience that I can't be without. I've grown so close to your instrument and I feel the work you've put into it every time I pick it up. I'm in love!
Extremely excited to see what the future holds.
— Gabe Lopez
PHOTO: Ryan (Fractal Audio) watches the iPad intently as he plays. The screen offers instant control over every tuning, including the ability to control the overall key of the instrument as well as each individual string. A programmable foot pedal is currently in development.
PHOTO: Influential forum contributor and electrical engineer Steve Conrad evaluates the hardware/software interface. You can read his thoughts on the VGuitarForum Antares thread.
It is worthwhile noting the Antares S2 is the first-ever installation of AutoTune technology on a fanned-fret guitar. Implementation went extremely smoothly, with some tweaks required to the software to 'teach' the processor how to interpret strings that are multiple scale lengths.
As it turns out, the computer 'hears' the increased clarity of the multi-scale fretboard in much the same way the human ear does...
After everything got setup, the guitar looked and sounded fantastic. It is certainly one of the best sounding guitars that we have heard with the technology installed. Do believe that Steve would agree after hearing a bunch of the other ones that we had at NAMM.
— Henrik Bridger (Antares)
First impressions from his hotel room, the night before NAMM. Masi & I had completed the guitar the day prior and shipped via overnight delivery. The Antares S2 was waiting for Sjuggs when he arrived in LA from his flight. Played acoustically...
Plays great! In tune right out of the case.
Beautiful work (both of you!). Shockingly good sounding for an electric, I think. (nothing to compare to now)
Cool design! Easy disassembly.
It's not complicated to play...
PHOTO: Industry veteran guitar tech Thomas Nordegg appreciating the Antares S2. Thomas is an engineer and inventor when he is not on the road providing TLC for Steve Vai's machines.