Gizmotron 2.0 and the Fretless Guitar

I’ve waited over 40 years to get a Gizmotron, I used to visit the local music shop weekly and ask if they had the Gizmotron in stock, as you may know it never made it into mass production back then.

However technology and manufacturing has progressed and the Gizmotron 2.0 is now commercially available.

So I bought one.

I had to eliminate some guitars for testing so removed all the arch tops and contoured bodies plus those with bodies too small to mount the device. As it is a six string device out went 7 string and 11 string models. So I was down to 4.

The Gizmotron is set up with 3 wheels for wound strings and three wheels for plain strings, most of my fretless guitars have 4 wound strings and 2 plain strings. Things still work fine but you miss the attack you would get on the third string that is so present on the three lower strings.

I temporarily mounted the Gizmotron with double sided sticky tape and tried it out on the four guitars placed on the trusty ironing board. The tape was not strong enough to hold the device for normal playing with the temperature being 30 degrees centigrade (high eighties in old money) and I didn’t want to use the supplied fixtures until I was certain about which guitar would suit it best.

There is a video covering the four guitars I selected to try the Gizmoton out on, but here are the comments about those guitars and the pros and cons I found along the way.

Fretless Fender Stratocaster

Cremcaster fretless guitar

Although not pictured the guitar now has a Roland GK3 pickup fitted and this is in the same place the Gizmotron needs to fit, so I took off the GK3. The recommended distance from the nut to the device’s wheels is 25 inches so with the Fender scale being 25 1/2 inches it is pretty close to the bridge.

The Gizmotron worked really well on the Strat, with lovely cello like bowed sounds.

Crop Circle

First Act Crop Circle Fretless Guitar

Well apart from spoiling the look of the crop circle motif the strings on the guitar are very low and close to the body. I could not get the Gizmotron low enough to strike the strings correctly. The sound produced was rather weak, so not suitable for this guitar.

Editor’s Note: The next day I found I could get the Gizmotron mounted much lower on the guitar by outriding the mounting plates. It is now permanently mounted on the Crop Circle, sounds really great. Video and more comments here.

Explorer

Custom 48 Explorer
Custom 48 Fretless Explorer Crafted in the mid 1980s by Japanese luthier Yoshi, this Custom 48 shop NYC is a through neck guitar using premium ESP parts, a Kahler locking tremelo system, 2x single coil and tapped humbucker, with selectable passive / active electronics.

Two reasons for this guitar not to be a contender: First, there is no way to mount the device on the guitar body and secondly the Kahler bridge is so close to the bridge pickup the wheels of the device cannot operate between them.

Godin Multiac

Well I thought I was onto a winner here, plenty of room for mounting, string height good, RMC piezo pickup in the bridge so I could drive it through a Roland VG99 and acoustically the Gizmotron performed well.

I wanted to see if the piezo pickup picked up any motor rumble so I plugged it into an amp, no sound from the motor at all.

Then I tried playing the Gizmotron, there was this awful sound of the strings being rubbed by the serrated wheels, totally unusable.

Youtube video

Here it is in all its glory, all four guitars with the Gizmotron.
Note: Play in HD

Conclusions

This device is just as good as you imagine it to be, you can play it gently or get those lovely bow attack sounds with a little more pressure.

However you do have to consider that the device must be carefully set up, and it really is going to take up one of your guitars pretty permanently

Pros

Very nice bowed Cello sound

Lots of long sustained notes possible

Can be quickly removed for transit by three Allen bolts

Cons

A little difficult to fit and setup correctly

Impossible to fit on some guitars, bridge too close to bridge pickup

Will not work with Piezo Bridge pickups

Links

Gizmotron 2.0 revisited on Fretless Guitar

 

More Gear Reviews

4 thoughts on “Gizmotron 2.0 and the Fretless Guitar

  1. Well done Jahloon; Excellently produced.

    I love that distinctive timbre! It is really sad that there isn’t much chance of being able to use it with a GK pick-up.
    I suppose if one were to be mounting a Gizmotron on their guitar, they might not care so much as that timbre is probably more so the goal, than mixing it with synth tones from a GR-xx.

    Again, well done!

    I hope you get a lot of use out of that Gizmotron! 40 years is a long wait!

  2. Another issue I ran into with the Gizmotron was around my Hex pickup also. I DID keep my hex pickup on the install I did, and since the hex pickup was so close to the motors in the Gizmotron, I picked up an ENORMOUS amount of noise. I had to scrap that idea and just use my normal pickups.

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