I briefly got my hands on a Peavey guitar equipped with the new Auto-Tune system developed by Antares. Demonstrated at this past Winter NAMM, this new instrument features the ability for a player to put a guitar into tune instantly and switch to alternative tunings quickly with the touch of a button. I can say that this system works excellently.
The guitar I tried was created by Peavey and was a prototype but was representative of the final product. The guitar was lightweight, reminiscent to that of other similar Peavey’s or Ibanez RG series guitars. The neck was flat and the guitar was easy to play. It had two humbucker pick-ups, a volume knob, tone knob and three way selector switch. The rear of the guitar is dominated by several plastic plates. They covered up the standard guitar electronics, the Auto-Tune electronics and the battery pack required to power the system. The guitar runs off AA size batteries and has an optional D.I. box that will power the instrument through a proprietary connector on the bottom next to the standard 1/4″ output.
The rear pick-up has a small switch on the top that powers the Auto-Tune system and a small light indicates the system is on. Pulling out the tone knob will activate the system and pushing down the volume knob will auto-tune the guitar. With the guitar out of tune, simply pushing in the volume knob will tune the guitar audibly. It also covers intonation which is perfect through the system. While re-tuning, the system makes a warbling sound through the output and one second later, it’s perfectly in tune. If you press down on any of the strings, the guitar reads the chord position and re-tunes the guitar accordingly. For example, if you want to make the 6th string an “A”, then by pressing “A” on that guitar string and pressing the re-tune button, suddenly the bottom string will be an tuned down “A”. There’s a variety of combinations that can yield just about any tuning including Drop-D, Open-G, Open C and more. It took a minute to understand how the combinations worked but it has to do with music theory.
I wasn’t able to get a technical explanation of how the system works internally but it works extremely well. Just about any bizarre tuning combination was able to be created in seconds making this a very versatile guitar and fun to play with. I wasn’t able to compare the tone from the Auto-tune system to that of the regular guitar, but the auto-tune system sounded good.
The Auto-Tune equipped guitar I tried is said to sell for a street price of around $500 and the company is expecting to ship out these guitars within the next two months. The model number is AT-200.