The idea for Gibson’s revolutionary Robot Guitar auto-tuning system came to Chris Adams in a fit of frustration. Aggravated that he couldn’t keep his guitar in tune and that he was spending so much time trying to, the twenty-something turned to the Internet to see if there were any automatic tuning systems on the market. Dissatisfied with what he found, he imagined a system that would automatically tune a guitar in no-time-flat. That got him thinking about other possibilities; a system that could switch effortlessly between multiple tunings, keep a guitar perfectly intonated, and even change strings for you.
The fact that Adams had little engineering experience didn’t deter him. Over a period of 10 years, the professional guitar tech perfected a lightweight and foolproof system that tunes a guitar precisely and automatically in only a few seconds. “I wanted to create something that would respect the tonal concept of the instrument without changing it, but there was so much new technology that had to be developed to make it what it is today,” Adams explains. In 2005, Adams opened his Hamburg, Germany-based company Tronical, and began getting the word out about his invention.
It didn’t take long. Uli Jon Roth, Steve Vai, Billy Corgan, and other notables already use the system and all sing its praises on stages worldwide. “I haven’t met anybody who doesn’t love it,” Adams says. “This is a dream for guitar players. They don’t have to think about tuning anymore. Many artists have told me that having this makes them so relaxed because they know that, no matter what, they will be in tune. If you are more relaxed, you have a better performance. You can be more creative.”
Interview with Chris Adams
It took Chris Adams 10 years to perfect the lightweight and foolproof auto-tuning system on the revolutionary Gibson Robot Guitar. Aggravated by the never-ending tuning process, he devised a system that would automatically tune a guitar in no time flat. While he was at it, Adams developed the robotic technology that allows the Robot Guitar to switch effortlessly between multiple tunings, keep a guitar perfectly intonated, and even change strings.
What were your feelings about partnering with Gibson?
It’s a dream come true. I’m proud of it because Gibson is the Mercedes of guitars. It’s not just any brand; it’s the most high-profile guitar manufacturer in the world, so it says something about the tuning system. It’s a high-quality innovative product. That’s why it fits so well with Gibson because Gibson’s always cutting edge and a leader in technology.
What kind of guitarist do you think the Robot Guitar will appeal to?
It appeals to every type of guitar player. The total beginner can use it. It’s so much more fun to have a guitar that is in tune from the start. The pro players are also very intrigued about the system because they can do so many things that they couldn’t do before. A guitar tech can tune their guitar at the side of the stage, but the show happens on stage and a good guitar is very sensitive to changing conditions, concerning the climate and temperature. So no matter how good it was in tune on the side of the stage, it’s not going to be in perfect tune on stage. This system gives the control back to pro guitar players. You have to think about so many things already when you’re a guitar player that being in tune is one less huge hassle to think about.
Which famous musicians are already using your system?
Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins, he loves it. Matt Bellamy from Muse put it in his guitars. Uli Jon Roth, former guitar player of the Scorpions, says he actually can’t live without it anymore. Steve Vai couldn’t believe it unless he saw it, and once he saw it it was still very hard for him to believe. He’s telling everybody about how great it is. Steve Lukather really loves it. I showed it to Pete Townshend, and he wants to get to know more about it. That’s just the start of it.
How long does it take the average guitarist to feel comfortable with the Robot Guitar?
It takes less than two minutes to understand how to be in tune. Start with the basic stuff first. The only thing you have to do to start is pull the knob, strum the strings, and when everything on the display is blue, you are done. We checked the guitar out with some nine-year-old kids, and they picked it up immediately. It doesn’t come easier than this—pull the knob, strum, push in, done.
How often do you have to turn the system on when you’re playing?
Once you get this system, your tolerance for a guitar that’s out of tune is lower. You get used to it very fast. After two weeks you hear so much more because you always have a guitar that is in tune. So you tend to turn the system on much more often because you have become much more aware of when you’re out of tune. Who wants to be out of tune? Nobody. Now that it’s no work, you tend to use this much more often. Once you get used to the system, it becomes second nature.
Tronical is the market leader as well as technological pioneer in the range of self-tuning systems for musical instruments. Our business culture is affected by consistant exceeding of limitations to achieve excellent solutions for our products. All necessary core competencies and devices are provided at one spot. That ensures a prompt and well coordinated product development.
- Founded 2005
- 30 employees
- Research & Development Product Development
- Located in Hamburg, Germany