Secrets Of The Moog Guitar

The following is excerpted from recent interviews with Moog Guitar inventor, Paul Vo and Moog Music president, Mike Adams:

Moog is known for its analog synthesizers. What made the company decide to venture into the guitar market?

[Paul Vo] From my perspective, I’m just very glad they did. The people at Moog have been wonderful to work with. Moog’s culture is very receptive to innovation, yet also quite down to earth and realistic – just the right environment to develop the Moog Guitar.

[Mike Adams] We have been in the guitar market for years with our Moogerfooger line of analog stomp boxes. Introducing a guitar with innovations this guitar brings to the player is really the culture here at Moog. We have a criterion for any product that Moog introduces and this guitar met every element.

In lay terms, what are the advantages of the guitar’s capacity to sustain and mute notes at the same time?

[Paul Vo] Imagine trying to play a clean single-note line on one string when all the other strings start to vibrate loudly all by themselves. You’ve got to spend more care keeping the strings quiet than playing your melody.

In Controlled Sustain Mode, the internal circuit is able to distinguish between un-played strings and played strings: how is it possible?

[Paul Vo] Several tests are applied to bias a string either towards being muted or being driven. Deliberately played strings cross an amplitude threshold that varies according to a proprietary algorithm. Please understand: The strings are not either “on” or “off”; it does not work like that. Everything is gradual. A tendency towards sounding louder is “rewarded” with more energy; a tendency towards being muted is encouraged with active muting, etc.

The muting is not absolute; we still allow sympathetic vibrations when they are strongly related to the basic pitch of the played string or strings. With ‘Controlled Sustain’, the player finds it about as easy to govern the strings in the presence of strong sustain as it is to play an ordinary guitar that doesn’t have sustain.

Sonically, what is different or unique for listeners when they hear guitarists simultaneously employ this mute and sustain?

[Paul Vo] Listeners will hear a cleaner, more musical performance, and maybe of material that wouldn‘t often be attempted on the guitar – perhaps some challenging music written for the cello or transposed from the violin, or something entirely new.

Once again, using terms that a layperson can understand, how does the guitar’s harmonic blend control work and what does it mean, in terms of sonics, for listeners?

[Paul Vo] The harmonic blend is a way of favoring some harmonics over others in a note. It changes the color, the tone or timbre of the instrument. This is a difficult question to answer in words. Listeners are going to hear some sounds they have not heard before.

[Mike Adams] In laymen terms, the harmonic blend works by using the foot pedal to shift the sustain and mute power (we call it Vo Power) between the neck and bridge pickups.

What makes the Moog Guitar different from other guitars?

[Mike Adams} Only a very few guitars have the capability of sustaining notes indefinitely and none at all have the ability to electronically mute the strings. The Moog Guitar is completely unique: It makes new sounds by acting on the strings themselves, changing the way they vibrate or stopping vibration altogether. It’s not some subtle difference; it’s beyond obvious, when you play it.

How is the technology adopted in The Moog Guitar different from other guitar sustain technologies?

[Mike Adams] Our technology differs in several important ways. First, the energy applied to the strings is “coherent” energy. Coherent energy is energy that is applied in an intelligent way. When applied positively, the string sustain is very powerful and very responsive. When applied negatively (reverse power – which is not possible with existing technology), the string stops very quickly giving a staccato effect to guitar (similar to a banjo or koto). Additionally, the guitar has circuitry which senses which string the player is playing and sustains those strings while actively muting the strings that are not being played.

Can you tell me something about the Moog Guitar Strings? Why are they special?

[Mike Adams] The Moog guitar technology works using the physics of electro-magnetic energy. The Moog Guitar strings have a higher metallic content than most strings and is more responsive to the elector-magnetism than most other strings. In an emergency situation, most metallic guitar strings will still work they just will not be as responsive.

Is the Moog Filter used into the Moog Guitar the classic 24dB/LowPass?

[Mike Adams] The Moog ladder filter is a vintage 24dB/oct filter built with individual transistors in the classic way.

via Moog Music

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