NAMM 2012: Peavey Announce an Auto-Tune Guitar - The AT-200

Peavey have teamed up with Antares to bring you the AT-200, a guitar that simulates tuning, but GuitarSite.com is not yet convinced.

Peavey AT-200 Electric Guitar

Regular readers will recall that we announced nearly a year ago that Antares was working on this technology - and I had a somewhat skeptical view of their approach back then. My views are so far unchanged by Peavey and Parker launching Auto-Tune Guitars at NAMM.

My position is this: A robotic guitar actually tunes your strings - Auto-Tune doesn't, but gives you a digital output that sounds tuned while your strings continue to vibrate in dissonance. My conclusion is that experienced guitarists may use this for 'effects', but not for tuning - beginner guitarists on the other hand may enjoy the great sounds they get, but at the price of failing to learn about tuning and harmonics.

So here it is: if you are a beginner and don't mind the 'tax' added by the DSP technology from Antares, then go ahead and have fun.

If you are more than a beginner - then you'll be interested in the DSP effects, meaning you'll be comparing the Peavey AT-200 offering to alternatives like the Line 6 Variax and Gibson Firebird X.

Peavey haven't announced a price yet (they've only said it will be under US$500) - but they have said it won't be available until July 2012. This delay in delivery, or what I'd prefer to call a some-what early announcement, indicates some desperation to me (perhaps they think this is a category killer product and are worried about Parker or another guitar manufacturer getting something out earlier) - they could have waited to make the announcement during the lead up to Summer NAMM 2012 which starts on July 12.

Perhaps Peavey have also seen the problem in market segmentation and targeting that I outlined above, because in their press release and NAMM demo they stressed "intonation problems" (something beginners don't understand) and the ability of the AT-200 to overcome them - that suggests to me even more that this is a guitar that is strategically missing all probable target markets.

But I'll be the first person to admit I'm wrong about the Peavey AT-200 if I see some good arguments to the contrary - so go ahead and post your 'for' or 'against' arguments below in the comments area.

The Tone King made the following video at Winter NAMM 2012 - decide for yourself and leave your opinions below:

If you want to read the official announcement about the AT-200 - you'll find it on Peavey's webiste.

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This doesn't compare to the Firebird X

You can't seriously be comparing this to the Firebird X - that costs a f**kload more than the new peavey guitar!

Wow, a Peavey guitar that

Wow, a Peavey guitar that isn't butt-ugly!

Now if Schecter could just make one...

Auto Tune Guitar

I'm a keyboard player, which by the way always stays in tune. Why can't technology do the same for a guitar? The guy playing the guitar in the video is quite proficient and he didn't look unhappy with Auto Tune Guitar. I've been on many a show where the guitar does go out of tune during a song. As a member of the band it freaks me out. So, why not use this technology to save the guitarist the embarressment. Go for it! One usually spends a lot of money on gear that eventually becomes redundant or outmoded. So why not spend it on something that is really useful.

A promising tool

I think it's ridiculous to assume that this guitar would only be useful or appealing to beginners who have trouble tuning their guitars. The thing that's very promising about this guitar is its solution to intonation issues. I saw that you touched on that, but once again, implied that only beginners will be eyeing these guitars and the concept of intonation will go right over their heads. I think you need to get off the whole "beginner" brigade and (rightfully) think about this as more than a novelty.

Guitar is an equal tempered instrument, which means it's physically impossible for every note on the fretboard to be perfectly in tune. Compromises have to be made (like tuning the guitar so that one type of chord voicing is in tune; which means others can't be in tune). This technology will make it possible to finally end that compromise and be able to play anything and have it not sound 'off'. The nature of guitar's imperfect intonation can be one of the most frustrating things to encounter during the recording process, and it can put a serious hamper on a musician's writing. It's a real pain to create an arrangement, only to record it and have to rewrite it to something less musically interesting because the chord voicings sound off. I guarantee you that a lot of 'cheating' goes on in the recordings of your favorite albums. I'm sure that the engineer had the guitarist retune the guitar in specific ways for certain chord types and punch-in the takes so that everything is in tune. This will make that no longer necessary, and since that makes continuous takes possible, I see it as LESS of a crutch than what has to be done right now.

I will definitely be picking one of these up for recording, at the very least.

Peavey AT200

This guitar will NOT be the end-all, be-all, mojo mofo! But it WILL be another nice tool in the shed for recording, or for gigs where you need alternate tunings quickly. If the guitar itself is a player, I plan to get one.

I guess I will have to be "that" guy.

I have been in search of a great intonation method for guitar for years.
I have made many a keyboardist happy to work with me because I have as accurate a setup as I have.
But after having said that.....I think this will be the shiznit if they do the release on their signature series guitars and basses as well.
This is a live playing tool to me. Especially for the rhythm guitarist.
I have been an advocate of Using the Earvana nut system for a few years now. I even have custom locking nuts that fix 99% of the intonation problems on my Floyd Rose equipped guitars.
But if this little innovation takes off and liberates the choice of the other electronics like the pickups (everyone has a dedicated preference) and allows tremolo systems without throwing off the Antares built in. Then they will create a rush by other companies to at least come up with something comparable. And if Antares has any "exclusivity" agreement with Peavey, then they have secured a fresh bump in sales that will carry them till the next big thing.
Will I buy one?.........Don't know yet. Not the sears catalog looking knock off in the video. I won't give up my Floyds and Jackson's for a tone that won't sit well in the mix. I don't care how well it plays in tune. I have already done what most guitarist have never taken the time to do. Intonate and buy the hardware necessary to make every playing experience for me a great experiance for everyone else in whatever band I am in. My guitars are ready to play in key and intonated in full chord voicing in all positions.
I like working with keyboardist. And I try to be the guitarist they like working with.
Side note here though: Peavey will make a killing with this in the church praise and worship market with the young new players that drench their sound in delay and chorus to cover bad technique. There are some good players there, but to many that have no business being on a recording let alone big production style church services, till they take the time to practice and then practice again.
And if its still not right? Don't come out of the woodshed until it is!
Your keyboardist and music director will love you for it.
Church music has spawned an explosion in new guitarist. They will pepper the music landscape in a bigger way over the next 10 years in all genres. I expect them to work for it and be good workers. But right now I shy away from "church" guitarist for the lack of dedication and ply of their abilities in the music trade.
End rant.

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