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Fret-King Self-Tuning Guitar – A Robot Destroyer?

17 June 2010 Leave a comment

Bloody hell! Trev Wilkinson’s been busy.

Trev Wilkinson’s name is pretty well known. The man’s a guitar-tinkering genius in the vein of Leo Fender. Trev’s always come up with splendid ideas on how to make guitars better. His input to brands like Vintage have made for some budget guitars that can punch above their weight and his ideas and inventions have made many pieces of guitar hardware work much better than they ever did before.

Well, it seems that Wilkinson has been turning his giant, bulging brain to the issue of auto-tuning guitars and this is what he’s come up with.

Fret-King is Wilkinson’s brand of guitars (featuring some doozies). This one is the Fret-King Super-Matic and it features the Wilkinson ATD HT440. ATD is Auto Tuning Developments and I’m guessing HT is for Hard Tail (but I could be wrong). The 440 you can figure out yourself.

While the Super-Matic guitar is a handsome animal in a black or burst, Strat-style, alder-bodied, H-S-H configuration (with clever vari-coil tapping), that’s not really what I want to talk about. The story here is the bridge and it’s auto-tuning goodness.

Take a look at the close-up of the bridge. See that thing between it and the humbucker? That’s a mini hex pickup. It’s sensing the string vibration and feeding the info to the complicated gubbins that do the actual thinking. The hex pickup has a button and a small LED display. The button cycles through six preset tunings (indicated by a number on the display), you strum the strings and the little gears and pegs on the bridge tweak each string accurately to that preset. The hex pickup even has a built in tuner so you can check the accuracy if you want.

This system has its fiddly bits at the bridge. The auto-tweaking gets done there. There’s no need for additional weight and complicated tuners up at the headstock.

Frickin’ sweet.

Even better, the unit is designed so that it can retrofit into a standard Strat bridge and trem pocket.

A retrofit auto-tune system? Frickin’ sweeter.

The Super-Matic will retail for UK £1299 sometime in the autumn. Wilkinson will be displaying this baby at Summer NAMM. Thank you to Music Radar who ran this story originally.

Can I get a frickin’ sweet?

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Written by: Gerry Hayes
This article is listed under: Featured, News

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