The Gibson Robot Guitar ranges in price from about $800 – $2500 new, depending on which one you get. Here’s an interview with the inventor of the technology, Chris Adams:
Chris, the limited Les Paul model of the Robot Guitar sold out in no time. How does that feel? – Did you expect a selling success like that?
Chris Adams: Yeah, the demand for new instruments is tremendous. And there will be new models by Gibson, like an SG model, Les Paul Studio and Explorer which will be equipped with a stock Powertune system. Of course, there will be new products as well.
Powertune is the most innovative in electric guitar technology at the moment. Many others had tried to develop similar solutions. But, they all required the instrument to be altered, like additional routing. Something that most guitarists are afraid of. So, we developed even more products with new features and made them even smaller to fit most guitar models.
I thought you’d have an exclusive collaboration with Gibson?
Chris: Well, maybe we should go back a little. Once the Powertune system was ready for the market, I began offering it to practically all the bigger guitar manufacturers.
Every one of these manufacturers would have had the opportunity to get on the train. During Musimesse 2004 I’d also talked to a representative of a big Japanese corporation who told me they wouldn’t be interested. He told me they were realizing something similar, electronically.
As a guitarist, this is an answer that makes you go “hmm!” Then in 2005, I then received an invitation by a bigger manufacturer to show them my prototype in Scottsdale, Arizona. I arrived there flying in from Germany. As I proceeded to the welcome desk they had literally forgotten the appointment! In my opinion that was kind of uncool already.
The whole meeting didn’t really work well and was kind of unprofessional. And when they asked me to leave the prototype with them, I didn’t, because I made up my mind that being there had been a waste of time. The people I met were obviously trying to fool with me.
Meeting with Gibson went completely differently. This was after being unsuccessful meeting someone at the Gibson booth at Musikmesse where I’d gotten blown off. Some woman told me to check the Internet for the right person to contact. Instead, what I did was to find the mail address of Henry Juszkiewicz. I wrote to him and received an instant reply. Then I presented the guitar to him during a Vegas trade show. After ten minutes talking in a parking lot, Henry asked me, “Alright, how much do you want for it?”
I guess that brought a big smile on your face.
Chris: Sure! But, it also shows you how things go differently when your partner is personally involved and really cares what kind of products his company carries. Henry Juszkiewicz made this a personal matter to him, not leaving the decision to marketing people or the R&D department.
I found it quite amazing that taking a 50/50 chance by offering Powertune to the biggest two players in the market brought you an almost immediate success with one of them.
Chris: To me, it was never doubtful that I’d get the system into the market. I was always confident about implementing the product in the guitar market. Period. And I was pretty relaxed about it too since I’d already found an alternate distribution source.To me, there was no question that I’d be successful with the Powertune. I’d find it either a rough and bumpy way or a little more comfortable ride. The product is just too good to keep it away from guitarists! Giving it up had never been an option.
Since Gibson took the first grab, did they reserve their right for exclusivity?
Chris: Of course they did and it’s fully understandable. But, and here comes the good news for all players of other models. There will be replacement parts kits offered by Gibson too. These come with smaller machine heads to fit six-in-a-row headstocks perfectly. In my opinion, it’s a generous gesture by Gibson to make Powertune available for all brands with this replacement kit.