Turn your iPhone or iPod Touch into a fully-functioning instrument with the Auug Motion Synth ($70) — a combination grip for your device, eight-button synthesizer app, and a cloud-based service for sharing synth presets. These combine to form a highly-capable synth instrument that lets you easily control music using the app's keys, and the motion of your hand, changing pitch and tone as you move. Use each of the buttons to play notes, control external synth hardware, even apply effects to your vocals. The grip lets you comfortably hold your phone, while interacting with the buttons, so you can play naturally, moving freely around the stage or studio.
Whether you're a beginner just learning to play guitar, or a seasoned veteran who has seen his share of road gigs, the Roadie Tuner ($80) is just the tool you need to perfect your craft. This automated robotic tuner will literally tune your guitar (or any other stringed instrument with geared pegs) for you, thanks to its sensors that are three times more accurate than the human ear. It will tune your guitar faster than most experienced players, helps you wind and unwind your strings, and will even let you quickly switch between tunings. Use the included iOS app to remember tuning settings, save custom tunes, visualize your tune, and keep track of the quality of your strings.
In a partnership with Korg sure to please electronics tinkerers and synth musicians alike, LittleBits ($100 and up) is the perfect combination of DIY circuit-board construction and musical exploration. Each kit — whether you choose the base kit, the premium kit, or the deluxe kit — requires no soldering or programming, all you need to do is plug your circuits together, add found materials, and start playing. The kits also include a 35-page instruction booklet that contains all the details you need to construct your own keytar, synth spin table, noise-making shoes, and much more. Or you can use your imagination to construct the homemade synth instrument of your dreams.
While there are certainly plenty of options out there for guitar players looking to add something special to their sound, there's nothing out there quite like El Rey Effects Guitar Pedals ($150). Hand-wired and custom-painted here in Cincy, these pedals look as good on your board as they sound coming out of your amp. Choose from pedals like the Mexican-wrestling-inspired Lucha Fuzz, the Ouija-board-inspired The Mystic, and several more. Whatever you choose, you're bound to make bandmates jealous and audience-members move.
If you're looking for the perfect balance between acoustic sound and electric power, then the Godin Acousticaster 40th Anniversary Guitar ($1,250) is the guitar for you. This gorgeous guitar has a rock maple neck, a rosewood or maple fingerboard, and a two-chamber mahogany body. As a limited edition, it celebrates forty years of making the original electric-acoustic hybrid guitar. It features a mini-humbucker pickup, custom under saddle transducer, and a custom preamp with volume, mid, treble, and bass controls, as well as individual controls for the pickup.
If you want to practice the guitar, but often find yourself in less-than-guitar-friendly places (class, conference rooms, the jury box), PocketStrings ($25 and $30) might be just what you need. It comes in two models, one with four frets that's great for playing chords, and one with six frets that's perfect for scales. It has genuine guitar strings and a strum pad to keep your rhythm right — so it feels almost like the real thing, only without the noise. Collapses down to fit comfortably in a pocket or bag.
Tired of playing the same old axes as everyone else? Consider pickup up one of these Bohemian Oil Can Guitars ($250-$350). They're available in two styles — Boho and Vintage — with the former featuring new parts, and the latter born from antique oil cans and lunchboxes, with parts sourced from used instruments. As you might imagine, the Vintage series tends to be the more interesting, as each piece is unique and one-of-a-kind. No matter which you choose, you'll end up with a fully-functional electric guitar that's far more interesting than your average Strat knockoff.
Make tuning your guitar a thing of the past by picking up a new model with Gibson Min-ETune ($TBA). This clever, battery-powered robot tuner can tune all six strings in just seconds, and delivers over 75 tunings per charge. To do so, it tunes your physical strings — as opposed to digitally, which can result in degraded tone — and gives you access to 12 common alternative tunings, including six that you can program yourself. Available on a wide range of Gibson SG and Les Paul guitars.
Take control of your music composition and performances like never before with the Ableton Push ($600-$1,200). This new instrument is powered by the USB cable that connects it to Ableton Live on your computer, giving you nearly endless creative options. The hardware itself — built by pad controller experts Akai Professional — consists of 64 velocity- and pressure-sensitive multicolored pads, with a layout that adapts to the track you have selected, along with a touch strip, 11 touch-sensitive endless encoders with a four-line LCD to show what you're working with, a bevy of knobs and buttons, and ports for foot switches to add even more control. Shipping in 2-3 months with either Live 9 Intro, Live 9 Standard, or Live 9 Suite.
You don't need to be a platinum artist to enjoy the Pioneer RMX-1000 Remix Station Platinum Edition ($1,000). This smallish instrument/device lets you create and utilize a wide range of remix effects, split up on-machine into four separate groups — Isolate FX, Scene FX, X-Pad FX and Release FX. Hardware includes RCA and quarter-inch inputs and outputs that sit alongside a USB port that turns the entire thing into a controller for many audio programs. Pretty much the only thing it can't do is supply you with musical ability.
We're not 100% sure where you'd be traveling that you'd need all the ruggedness of the Alpaca Travel Guitar ($575), but we are sure that if you do need it, you'll be glad to have it. Handcrafted in Vermont from carbon fiber, flax fabric, and bio-derived resins, this waterproof instrument features a headless neck, a soundhole near the forward part of the body, an embedded daisy chain on the back for connecting it directly to any outdoor gear — think backpack or rucksack — and a three-point strap system.
Straddling the line between a hard case and a gig bag, the Bowoo Guitar Case ($320 and up) promises to be the last case you'll need. Handcrafted in Vermont, it features a rugged Cordura exterior, a soft, Velcro-friendly interior lining, an included neck rest block, and suede on the case handles, headstock and soundhole paddings, and shoulder straps. In addition, it also offers reinforced seams, metal hardware, a rigid internal frame with 20mm of interior padding, straps that convert from a single shoulder to backpack-style, and enough room for everything from an electric all the way up to a full dreadnaught, all in a package that's half the weight of a traditional hard case. Shipments begin next month.