Gibson Robot: a Guitar That Tunes Itself

It's odd to see tuners spinning on their own, but this $2,500 robotic ax sold out its initial run.

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Robot Guitar looks like a standard Les Paul with an added knob that lights up.
Robot Guitar looks like a standard Les Paul with an added knob that lights up.

Seeing a robot in action can often be a little eerie at first. So that feeling shouldn't have surprised me when Gibson did a demo of its self-tuning guitar at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. After all, the company calls it a "robot guitar."

But it's weird to see those little tuners spin on their own. The new Gibson Robot went on sale last month and quickly sold out its initial run at $2,500 each. The company has obviously touched a nerve with musicians tired of tuning.

The guitar comes with seven preset tunings, although it's easy to program your own. Then, turn an added knob on the Les Paul electric guitar, and the tuners start spinning, back and forth. After a few seconds, lights flash to announce the instrument is ready to play.

Some purists have complained that it would appeal only to lazy and sloppy musicians. Gibson says the buyers are people who like to use a number of tunings for different songs, branching beyond the tried-and-true EADGBE. I'm no musician, so I'm not even sure what that means. But the Gibson Robot seems to let musicians get past the mundane and spend more time in the creative. Like any good robot.