Gibson's revolutionary Robot Guitar is unique in many ways, but the robotic Robot tuners that grace the headstock are extraordinary. Pull out the Robot Guitar's Master Control Knob (MCK) and watch the Robot tuners spring into action. It takes only a few seconds for the Robot tuners to tune the Robot Guitar to any desired tuning. Each tuning peg is equipped with a tiny but powerful servo motor that kicks into action once the system is activated. The Robot tuners rely on the strings themselves to send the signals. Made of lightweight metal alloy with a satin finish, the Robot tuners weigh only 46.5 grams each. A standard Gotoh tuner weighs in at 49 grams, which means a set of Robot tuners weigh a full 15 grams less than a set of Gotoh tuners--another indicator of the Robot Guitar's true innovation.
At the heart of Gibson's revolutionary Robot Guitar are its ground-breaking controls. At first glance, the four control knobs seem to be indistinguishable from those on any other Les Paul. But look again. While the four knobs do provide the standard tone and volume controls for each of the two pickups, the Master Control Knob (MCK)--the one with the illuminated top--serves as the master control for all aspects of the Robot Guitar's amazing, self-tuning system. The MCK is what is commonly referred to as a 'push-pull' knob. When in the down position, it behaves as a regular volume or tone pot. When the MCK is pulled out, the Robot Guitar's radically new self-tuning system is activated and ready for use. It immediately places the Robot Guitar in standard tuning mode (A440). A quick turn of the MCK presents six factory presets, all of which can be customized. At any time, you can also restore the tunings to the factory presets and start all over again. The LED display on top of the MCK also lets you know when a string is out of tune, or when all strings are in tune, and even when the tuners are turning to get them in tune. It even guides the setting of accurate intonation. At the end of the tuning process, the blue lights on top of the MCK flash. Push the MCK back in and it's ready to go. The only thing you have to do is play.
Blue Silverburst Nitrocellulose Finish
The Robot Guitar's Blue Silverburst nitrocellulose lacquer finish is a Gibson first, and will not be offered as a finish on any other guitar. Applying this nitro finish to any Gibson guitar-including the revolutionary Robot Guitar--is one of the most labor-intensive elements of the guitarómaking process. A properly applied nitro finish requires extensive man hours, several evenly applied coats, and an exorbitant amount of drying time. But this fact has never swayed Gibson into changing this time-tested method that has been employed ever since the first Gibson guitar was swathed with lacquer back in 1894. Why? For starters, a nitro finish dries to a much thinner coat than a polyurethane finish, which means there is less interference with the natural vibration of the instrument, allowing for a purer tone. A nitro finish is also a softer finish, which makes it easily repairable. You can touch up a scratch or ding on a nitro finish, but you can't do the same on a poly finish. In addition, a nitro finish is very porous in nature, and actually gets thinner over time. It does not 'seal' wood in an airtight shell--as a poly finish does-and allows the wood to breathe and age properly.
22-Fret Ebony Fingerboard
Ebony has always graced the fingerboards of the world's finest stringed instruments, including today's Les Paul Custom, Les Paul Supreme, and the pioneering HD.6X-Pro Digital Les Paul. The fingerboard on Gibson's revolutionary Robot Guitar is constructed from the highest grade ebony on the planet. The ebony is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson's team of skilled wood experts before it is fitted onto the necks of the new Robot Guitars. The resilience of this dense and durable wood makes the Robot Guitar fingerboard extremely balanced and stable, and gives each chord and note an unparalleled clarity and bite. The 12-inch radius of the fingerboard provides smooth note bending capabilities and eliminates 'dead' or 'choked out' notes, which can be common occurrences on fingerboards with lesser radiuses. Resilient and less porous, ebony tends to absorb oils well, which allows it to preserve its rich, beautiful color.
No guitar neck profile is more distinguishable than the neck profile employed on Gibson's revolutionary Robot Guitar--the traditional '50s neck, which is the thicker, rounder, more time-honored profile, emulating the neck shapes found on the iconic 1958 and 1959 Les Paul Standards. Each neck is machined in Gibson's rough mill using wood shapers to make the initial cuts. Once the fingerboard gets glued on, the neck is carefully shaped by hand. That means there are no two necks with the exact same dimensions. True to its handcrafting, each neck will be slightly different, with a distinct and traditional feel.
The fret wire on the revolutionary Robot Guitar is a combination nickel and silver alloy (approximately 80 percent nickel and 20 percent silver) specifically designed for long life and superior wear. Gibson's traditional 'medium/jumbo' fret wire is first shaped by hand, then cut to an exact 12-inch radius. After hand pressing it into the fingerboard, a machine press finishes the job to eliminate the gap between the bottom of the fret wire and the fingerboard.
Data Transmitting Tailpiece & Tune Control Bridge
The revolutionary Robot Guitar sports a new and unique, highly specialized Tune Control Bridge which acts as one of the main components of the amazing self-tuning robotic system. The new Tune Control Bridge is a modified Tune-o-matic that measures the individual tuning of each string via special saddles. The signal from each string is then transmitted to the control CPU in the control panel, which then transfers the signal to the Neck CPU and the Robot Tuners&trade, which, in turn, tune the strings. At first glance, the tailpiece on Gibson's ground-breaking Robot Guitar looks like a normal tailpiece. But look a little closer and you'll see that it's far from ordinary. Gibson's new Data Transmitting Tailpiece is a hub of activity. First, each string is separated by ceramic insulators that isolate each individual string signal and avoids confusion as to which string is being processed and tuned. There are also special isolating inserts that keep the ball ends commonly found on electric guitar strings from making contact and disrupting signal flow. Underneath the tailpiece is a tiny circuit board that processes each individual signal to the ribbon cable, which is then transmitted to the on-board CPUs, which, in turn, tune the strings. Both pieces work with each other to help balance all the information being transmitted between the various points, and make sure every string is in tune, making them the epitome of form and function in electric guitar bridge and tailpiece design.
There's something about playing a Gibson Les Paul with perfect tone, balance, and weight. One of the ways the expert craftsmen at Gibson USA achieve this equilibrium is by carving carefully mapped-out chambers in the solid mahogany backs of Les Pauls using a Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) router before the maple top is glued on. The positioning of the routes was established after careful examination of the resonant characteristics of the Les Paul. Gibson approached this process with the awareness that every change to the formula would have repercussions on the instrument's sound. So, in addition to relieving the stress on a player's back and shoulder, these lighter Gibson guitars also enhance the tone palette in a manner unique only to these guitars. The results are comfortable, lightweight guitars that are acoustically louder, with increased sustain and resonance.
Gibson pickups have been setting the standard for the guitar industry since 1935 when the company introduced its first electric model, the E-150 Hawaiian lap steel. Add the pioneering introduction of the revolutionary double-coil 'humbucking' pickup invented by Gibson's own Seth Lover in 1957 and you can clearly see that Gibson has dramatically influenced the evolution of popular music in all genres, from the warm jazz tones of Charlie Christian, to the world-shaking rockabilly of Scotty Moore, and the crunching rock of Jimmy Page. The pickups in the new Robot Guitar are Gibson's 490R and 498T. The 490R's Alnico II magnet provides a warm, full sound with a slight upper mid-range boost. The 498T's Alnico V magnet is hotter, with enhanced mid-range and high frequencies. Both offer singing humbucker tone and both are carefully hand wound at Gibson USA in Nashville, TN.
Body Wood/Cap Wood
There isn't anything more essential or critical than the marriage of a Gibson Les Paul's mahogany back with a maple cap, as well as the regimen involved in selecting the right wood and the formula to dry it out. First, the wood is personally inspected and qualified by Gibson's team of skilled wood experts before it enters the Gibson factories. These onsite inspectors also insure that the plain maple comes from corporations adhering to the forest-saving standards of the Rainforest Alliance, of which Gibson is a proud member and sponsor. Once inside the Gibson factories--where humidity is maintained at 45 percent, and the temperature at 70 degrees--all woods are dried to a level of 'equilibrium' by ensuring the moisture content does not change during the manufacturing process. This guarantees tight-fitting joints and no expansion, and helps control the shrinkage and warping of the woods, in addition to helping reduce the weight. It also helps with improving the woods' machinability and finishing properties, and adherence to glue. Consistent moisture content means that a Gibson guitar will respond evenly to temperature and humidity changes long after it leaves the factory.
At the core of the Robot Guitar's pioneering technology is a lithium rechargeable battery system, which takes about 90 minutes to generate a full charge that keeps the innovative self-tuning robotic system going for approximately 200 tunings. Included with the Robot Guitar is a power adaptor that plugs into any standard power outlet. Take any quarter-inch guitar cable and plug one end into the adaptor, and the other end into the Robot Guitar. In approximately 90 minutes, the Robot Guitar is ready to go. Use the shortest guitar cable you can find, because the shorter the cable, the less time it takes. You can always check the status of the system's charge by turning the MCK knob to the C position. The LED display will give you a value between 1-10, with one being the lowest charge, and 10 being the highest.
Neck CPU & Neck PCB
On the back of the Robot Guitar headstock, tucked discretely between the Robot Tuners&trade, is where you'll find the Neck CPU. This genius little device is responsible for receiving and processing the data signal from each individual string and feeding it to the corresponding Robot Tuners&trade, which then tune the guitar. Small in stature, yes, but big in power and central to the operation of this innovative self-tuning robotic system.