Gibson’s new Les Paul guitar connects to your Mac

Jim Dalrymple
2 December, 2008
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Following the success of the Robot guitar released last year, Gibson has unveiled the next generation Robot called Dark Fire. In addition to its ability to auto-tune itself, the Dark Fire can also connect to your Mac via FireWire and soon wirelessly over Bluetooth.

“The Dark Fire is the culmination of over a decade of work on the guitar,” Henry Juszkiewicz, Gibson CEO, told Macworld. “It really combines all the various technologies that we have dabbled in over the years. It all sort of comes to head in this remarkable instrument.”

While the Les Paul Dark Fire is the most technologically advanced guitar Gibson has ever manufactured, it is still an analogue guitar. You can plug the Dark Fire into an amp like a traditional guitar or plug it into your computer using the included Robot Interface Pack (RIP).

The RIP is about the size of a deck of playing cards and acts as a preamp and a FireWire interface to your computer. The front panel of the RIP has a 1/4-inch stereo input for the guitar and a 1/8-inch headphone jack.

The rear panel has two balanced 1/4-inch line outs and a FireWire connection for your computer.

Gibson is also working on a Bluetooth transmitter that will allow you to connect to your computer wirelessly. It is scheduled to be released in early 2009.

You could say that any analogue guitar that comes with an audio interface connects to your Mac, but the Dark Fire includes more technology inside the guitar to make the marriage of the analog and digital world more complete.

For instance, the Dark Fire includes a piezo bridge pickup that allows you to bring out each of the six strings to its own audio channel on your Mac. The piezo pickup also gives you the ability to blend a traditional Gibson electric sound with an acoustic sounding guitar.

The toggle switch on the Dark Fire now includes a rotary dial that allows you to dial in how much of an acoustic/electric blend you want to hear from the guitar for any given song. The guitar also features a built-in 4-band parametric equaliser.

The auto-tuning feature of the Dark Fire has been redone, so it works much faster. You can set the tuning you want using the Master Control Knob and within one strum of the guitar, you are in a new tuning.

Juszkiewicz said that the new system is fast enough that it is now possible to actually retune in the middle of a song.

The Master Control Knob gives you access to more than the included 18 alternate tunings. You now have eight tone settings that covers the most popular guitars made and 24 user defined guitar settings, which allows you to make your own.

“This guitar is a tone monster,” said Juszkiewicz. “It can literally achieve any sound you’ve ever heard.”

Gibson will be releasing tone editing software that will allow users to create or edit a tone and save it back to the guitar.

The Dark Fire also comes with Native Instruments’ Guitar Rig 3 and Ableton Live 7 Gibson Studio Edition. Gibson said they have worked with both companies to fine-tune the software specifically for the Dark Fire, which will include templates to get you up and running quickly.

The Dark Fire will have its own community Web site on, too. This will give users the ability to share tips and tricks, as well as exchange presets for the guitar.

The Dark Fire will go on sale December 15, 2008 for $US3,500 ($A5,495). There will be 2,000 guitars made and sold at 400 dealers worldwide.

“Playing this guitar is like driving a Maserati,” said Juszkiewicz.

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