Every year, the guitar and tech worlds send each other crazy with a host of fake and implausible product announcements and updates.
2016 turned out to be a vintage year: here are the japes that had us laughing and groaning this April.
In true Spinal Tap style, Marshall went one louder with the 1,000-watt JCM8000 head, in response to feedback about “how quiet the JCM800 is”.
Of course, unless Marshall were opting for a Class D power amp, the JCM8000 would require a hell of a lot of valves to produce that kind of output - our backs are aching just thinking about lugging it to a gig.
Line 6 Airiax
Line 6 may have taken its penchant for innovation too far this year by creating the ultimate air guitar controller.
A combination of state-of-the-art miniature accelerometers, tension sensors and pressure pads promise to capture every nuance of air guitar performance, sending information wirelessly to an AirFX station for processing.
In an admirable feat of brand-promotional pranking, you can even hook the fictional device up to the Variax input on any Variax-capable Line 6 device, including the company's new Helix amp and effects processor.
A new plugin with just one amount control that sets how much 'perfection' you want to apply to your music. It's all about the Divine Proportion, you see - your samples are rearranged to follow the 1.618 ratio.
“This is not an EQ, not a compressor, not a single effect you've ever come across,” says Wavesfactory. And we doubt it's something we'll ever come across again.
Seymour Duncan SW series
Building on the company's Chewbucker humbucker from Halloween, Seymour Duncan expanded its range of Star Wars-themed pickups with the IM-Solo and SSL-Ren. Here's what they had to say about the sadly fictional pups…
“The Chewbucker is designed to give you a hairy, growly tone, and while it is certainly capable of warm, fuzzy moments, it can also get pretty aggressive. And if you play a wrong note it’s been known to rip the tremolo arm out of its socket.”
“The IM-Solo is a neck pickup designed to give you a strong, independent voice for leads. Although we originally designed a fresher-sounding, more brash prototype, the final version of the IM-Solo is a little more aged and refined, with a gruffer voice. It works particularly well with the Chewbucker. You might say they’re inseparable.”
“Coming between these two is the SSL-Ren, a middle pickup which shares some structural DNA with the IM-Solo but has a wild, unpredictable edge that can be hard to control.
“Putting it close to an IM-Solo tends to give the false impression that it’s suddenly going to become a nicer-sounding pickup but then it goes through a phase reversal process, completely cancels out the IM-1 Solo and sends the Chewbucker into uncontrollable howling feedback.”
Wampler Ham-It Thrash Metal Wah
This porcine pedal is doubtless a response to comments made by Kirk Hammett in our interview about the Metallica man's new pedal company, KHDK.
Brian Wampler fights back with a pedal aimed at classic metal wah players, designed to emulate thrash metal wah solos from the '80s and '90s. Watch the demo below to see the man himself ham it right up.
Sensaphonics has come up with a practical and not at all ridiculous way of protecting your hearing when you're using in-ear monitors: say hello to EARbags (also known as the Excess Audio Reduction system).
“When secured to any set of IEMs, headphones, or earbuds, these patent-pending protective devices monitor for dangerous spikes in the ambient sound around the user,” explains Sensaphonics. “When threatening audio impulses are detected, the EARbags instantly deploy a sound-blocking pillow of protection around the ears.”
That all sounds totally plausible to us, and the photo just confirms what a reasonable and sensible idea this is.
Electro-Harmonix Time Traveler Looping Wristwatch
The latest addition to EHX's looper series offers 360 seconds of recording time and 11 loops - oh, and it's a watch.
Wi-Fi connectivity allows the device to wirelessly connect to any guitar via the use of an included guitar Wi-Fi plug.
EHX President and Founder, Mike Matthews, says: “Dig it! The Time Traveler is for the busy dude or chick who wants to be able to loop anywhere, anytime and it also functions as a fitness tracker!”
Fender Keith Richards Telecaster
PMT genuinely fooled us with this cunning Photoshop job. So much so that it had us lobbing frantic emails to Fender to confirm or deny the Keef Tele's existence. The answer, sadly, was that it doesn't really exist.
Of course, upon closer inspection of PMT's images, we should have known all along: an artist's signature on both sides of the headstock? Not likely!
JHS Pedals The Bulb
One of our favourites, this, purely for the amount of effort that clearly went into it. The Bulb is the world's first filament-driven all-analogue signal path effects processor, and the key to its incredible tone? You guessed it: bulbs.
In the video below, JHS Pedals' Josh reels off a dazzling display of utterly plausibly pedal-snob jargon before running you through the tones available from a variety of typical household bulbs. Bright stuff.
Music Computing ASSCAP
Mind-controlled music making probably isn't all that far away, but the credibility of Music Computing's ASSCAP is slightly undermined by its name and the rather coarse workflow.
“ASSCAP is a music production system that allows your brain to interface directly with your smart phone running our digital audio workstation app, which enables you to literally crap out a completely mastered CD ready for radio or internet streaming,” we're told.
There's some stuff about wearing “production briefs” as well, but you get the general idea.
Blackstar's bad amp
Simple yet effective.
Klon Double Centaur
The cheeky chappies at That Pedal Show whipped up this double-footswitch'd Klon Centaur - we can only imagine how much that beast would fetch at auction…
BeatBuddy's Sobriety Function
As we reported earlier in the day, BeatBuddy released an update for its BeatBuddy drum machine pedal that would make it progressively more drunk and out-of-time.
Just like a reliable drummer, this one wasn't real, but you can read more about it and the company's actually quite useful firmware update in our full story.
The death of the 1/4" jack plug
This one is all our fault. A fictional corporation known as the Global Guild Of Mainstream Guitar Manufacturers advocated the use of 1/8” jacks and the discontinuation of the 1/4” standard - read more here.
An innocuous jape, you might think, but it riled up a few social commentators nonetheless - below is a handful of the outraged comments:
"The 1/4 inch jack is bad, with poor contact area and shorting the output of the device to ground as you insert it into an input stage, and not self-cleaning. The 1/8th is even worse! Make guitars balanced: use mini XLRs?"
"I notice this 'Guild' is made up of over 2 'lower tier' guitar manufacturers, so why are they kicking up such a stink unless it is to save money on smaller plugs?! And, who wants a load of plastic adaptors, even if they are only a £1 each, in their pedal signal chains?! Obviously these people have got nothing better to do with their time!"
"Have never had a problem on any bass or guitar I've played, or is this just a new sales gimmick to make you have to buy just the leads they sell?"
"What!!! I know it's a shit plug… but guitars won't sound the same without them…"
"Definitely should go for a balanced connector."
BandLab might be a free cloud-based music collaboration service, but can it offer what the internet really wants: cats?
Before today, the answer was no, but now the service is getting a feline touch. “We’re not in the least bit ashamed to announce that, as of today, April 1st 2016, BandLab will officially become CatLab,” says the CatLab team. We might just hold them to that.