Hands up if you’ve been dying to make your electric guitar sound like a banjo! Hello? Two crowdfunding attempts by guitarist Jon Langberg for his “Guitar-Jo” device have fallen short, but hurrah! – it’s third time lucky. This mini unit mounts just under the strings, gently dampening them to create a sound that’s uncannily banjo-like. Who cares about learning the solo from Sweet Child O’Mine when you can twang out a chorus of Oh! Susanna?
As allergic as I am to branding that replaces the letter S with the letter Z, these Trekz headphones from Aftershokz are one of the best of a new breed of headphones that bypass the ears. By channelling the sound through the bones in your head, it frees up your lugholes to hear what’s going on around you (perfect for cyclists and runners) and lessens the burden on your eardrums. Some models sit on your temples, or at the back of your head, but these ones nestle just in front of the ear, sending out good vibrations.
A couple of years ago, some bright young things in East London built a new kind of digital piano called the Seaboard. With keys (or waves, as they call them) that were sensitive to touch, pressure, pushing, bending and wobbling, it gave keyboard players a new kind of physical control over the noise they produced. That concept has now been distilled into a mini version, the Rise, with 25 “waves” that you can press, bend, slide and pinch. Keyboard controllers are 10-a-penny, but they seem to require multiple limbs to operate all the switches, sliders and pots. The Rise gives us something that’s far neater.