Like everything around us, the music world too is constantly flooded with better, technically advanced options each day. The iTar presents one such innovative alternative to the artistes, music composers and music aficionados. As the name goes, iTar combines the functions of an iPad and an electronic guitar thereby opening up a world of possibilities for creating music. A single piece of instrument would hold the iPad and guitar, which will be integrated with each other to produce a wide range of musical sounds.
With more and more music related apps in the market, the iPad has become immensely popular for creating and composing music. This urged Starr Labs (pioneers in innovative digital musical instruments) to integrate their patented button-based guitar fretboard with a dock for the iPad, making the hybrid instruments a powerful tool for music composition and musical performances. Starr Labs has been manufacturing a host of MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) guitars, keyboards, etc for a long time. Their custom-made Ztars have been time-tested and successfully used by many a popular music icons (read Chemical Brothers, Stanley Jordan and Michael Jackson). Thus, combining the capabilities of the Ztar with the versatility of an iPad surely has the makings of a potent and popular instrument for our tech-savvy generation!
Other manufacturers like Misa Digital Instruments have also experimented with the string-less electronic guitar and touch-screen combination (refer to the Kitara). However with the iPad and it’s world of music apps coming into the picture, the story would change dramatically.
Where we are now
The iTar prototype is ready and the Starr Labs team has pitched for funding at Kickstarter to generate sufficient funds for mass production. As the money keeps coming in, the manufacturers are open to making more versatile custom-made iTars to suit user needs. In the words of Harvey Starrs “We’re in the thick of development now. The hardware is coming together nicely and I’m just making changes now for better functionality and ease of production.” Any such interesting and innovative gadget will take its own time to make a place for itself in the music world.
What makes it stand out
The iTar holds great promise owing to the endless uses it can be put to by not only professional musicians, but also music teachers/students, DJs, and music enthusiasts. It’s affordable cost (expected to be under $200) will enable access to a wide range of users who can experiment with it based on their specific purposes. With the various innovative iPad apps and its touchscreen interface, the iTar will make it easy to produce the sounds of many other instruments. It will also be effectively used as an interactive device for “guitar education, music-mixing software, jamming over the internet and interactive gaming.” The biggest advantage of the iTar is that it uses the hugely popular and widely used iPad to give it versatility. This enables the use of various interesting music apps churned out for the iPad so frequently. Thus the touch-screen of the iPad becomes a potent instrument for creating, mixing, synthesizing music. It also makes possible the use of videos to enhance a performance. Affordability and versatility are the two major factors that seem to place the iTar a notch above other such devices in the market (viz:Kitara).
Special care has been taken in designing the body of the iTar keeping in mind the target users – durability and compactness being the key words. This would definitely make the iTar more attractive to young music enthusiasts who love to carry their musical instruments wherever they go – the iTar will give them an all-in-one, sturdy and portable musical companion.
Where do we go from here?
Once the iTar is out in the market, more and more interesting uses and applications will be discovered and worked upon. It will definitely create a buzz in the music circuit across the world. A single instrument with so much versatility and possibilities will definitely be welcomed. It will open doors for the semi-professional musicians and other music lovers to enter the world of high-tech gadgetry at an affordable cost. The already popular iPad will further enhance the credibility and usability of the iTar. So in addition to guitar-lovers, the iPad loyalists are also expected to welcome this new entrant with open arms!
Couple of other such interesting hybrid instruments have been in the market for some time and have generated enthusiastic response from the users. Some of the popular ones being:
1. Kitara strangless guitar
The Kitara is a worthy predecessor of the iTar. It too has a string-less fretboard – each of the 24 frets containing a button instead of strings. In addition the Kitara has a “multi-touch screen and an on-board polyphonic synthesizer” which can be used for creating various sounds. Depending on the position where the screen is touched, a combination of sounds can be produced. There is a provision for adding digital effects and modulation, again controlled through the touch screen. Misa Digital instruments have been manufacturing the Kitara, with a starting price of US$ 959.00. The only deterrent for the Kitara becoming popular amongst the non-professional music enthusiasts seems to be its high price-tag.
The i-Tab is an electronic alternative for the traditional songbook. It can be easily strapped on to the head of the guitar (see image); it displays the lyrics and chords of the song for easy reference while performing. With sufficient memory to store numerous songs, in-built speakers and USB ports it’s a very useful gadget for the modern-day guitarist. The i-Tab comes with 3 different screen size options as well as various additional features, depending on the need of different users.
3. Air Guitar
The Air Guitar, as the name indicates, is a handy and useful device for air-guitarists to help them perfect their air-guitar moves. It has a small fretboard with buttons for chords. One can press the chord buttons and strum in the air, and this ingenuous device produces the appropriate sound! This is made possible by the infrared sensors which sense and interpret the finger movements, which are then reproduced by the speakers.