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January Clearance 2017

SynthAxe

This unusual guitar-like MIDI controller appeared late in 1986. It was designed by Bill Aitken and manufactured in England. It had a neck with equally spaced frets that is bent away from the body. This is fretted with the left hand, just like a normal guitar, in order to produce the desired pitch. A separate set of strings for the right hand pass through round magnets, which utilize the Hall effect for velocity sensitivity. These strings may be plucked or strummed in order to trigger the actual notes. A separate keyboard containing six keys could also trigger the notes being fretted with the left hand on the neck. A breath controller could be used to manipulate the volume and timbre of the instrument. The SynthAxe originally came complete with a price tag of about $13,000, so it’s no wonder that less than 1,000 were reportedly ever built. A few promenent players used a SynthAxe at one time or other, including Allan Holdsworth, Lee Ritenour, and Al DiMeola.

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