I loved my Fisher Price activity centre when I was a kid, with its bells and parps and tortoises. Kids get similarly worked up about the Musicon, and with good reason. It’s a wooden instrument that’s a bit like a programmable player piano: 720 buttons, mounted on a rotating drum, trigger noises from xylophones and percussion instruments mounted on the top. I’m about 42 years older than the target market, but if I had £2,250 at my disposal I’d snap one up immediately.
Perfect for guitarists who are bored with their guitar sounding even slightly like a guitar, the Synth9 lets you plug in, play, and hear the sound of classic synths, from the Moog to the ARP to the Oberheim. The company who make it, EHX, have a history of producing these kind of products (guitar to organ, guitar to Mellotron) but this is particularly nice; purists may be suspicious of a guitar being used in this way, but hey, if we always obeyed the purists we’d still be making music by banging rocks together.
Back in Prog 72, we featured the FretX, a system which helped you learn to play guitar by following flashing LED lights on the fretboard. A similar idea has now been developed for the ukulele, an instrument with which I have a troubled relationship. Its irritating cuteness and pivotal role in insufferably twee cover versions has made me hate it with a passion, but recently my heart has softened; it’s easy to learn, it facilitates communal music making, and what could be wrong with that? The Populele has been funded on Indiegogo three times over, so the people clearly want it. I will not argue with the people.