Future Guitar : No Amps, No Pedals


Love the latest vid with the tape echo, that thing looks crazy as it folds back on itself, sounds awesome too!

Ive been looking into Lua more and Im starting to feel more confident that scripting for norns is more apporachable than I may have thought. Easier said than done, especially without having one in front of me. I’m hoping to get in on this october batch and will try my had at implementing some basic ideas.
Even though it can already be done with m4l, I think the LFO approach to automating effects is a great idea for norns, just modulating the wet/dry signal overtime. Will have to look into envelope followers, a new concept for me, but thoroughly intrigued by your description. It will be hard to replace the vst effects available via ableton, especially those lush Valhalla reverbs so I like your point about norns thriving in good company of other gear. The sampling power of norns is where it shines the most it seems and developing a “hands-free” workflow to integrate that power with the guitar is very exciting.



I like the way you think : - ) Hope you’ll get in on the October batch! I’m sure all of the features discussed is very much possible to implement with some coding. Maybe some of the ideas could be implemented to the global settings. Regarding the reverb stuff - believe me, the Norns built in reverb is a real treat. And I think you can midi map control over the dry/wet. If you find a way to automate that you’ve come a long way!


The Empress Zoia looks pretty wild. I have had my eye on it for a few months, and still have no idea really how I’d use it. It’s functionality for a guitar pedal is pretty astounding, and I hope (and trust) they will spend the time necessary to make it really special. I have the Empress Reverb and it is loaded with great sounds, not just for guitar but also as a modular effect.

Sorry for getting off topic to the forum, guitar is my home plate. Thanks for making such inspiring music, and videos!


Just jumping in here, not quite sure if I am on topic. I have been doing lots of acoustic guitar direct to Ableton and working with plugin for some time now. Actually after the last project I realized I am going to have to break down and buy an electric guitar. I also realized that a big part of what I like to do in Ableton is morph or change fx over the course of a performance. I have found that I don’t like the KMI soft step, in fact returned it. As this has been developing I decided to just get something like a Kemper with a control board so that I can have as many as 4 control pedals - I want to be able to have multiple pedals so that I can change fx as I play. (and I need all ten fingers to do that) My plan is to run the fx loop of the Kemper to Ableton so that I can do a return with computer fx.

I guess just making an observation but if anyone is doing that in Ableton I would like to know what controller they are using.



Anybody experimenting with extended range guitar or bass?

How about hexaphonic pickups?


I often dream of getting some great sounding active pickups but when I go and look at whats out there I haven’t yet found it. I would love to have something with a couple of sweepable filters or variable q but I haven’t seen anything like that. Alembic used to make them but I am not even sure if they are still around. For me there are too many people trying to recreate slightly improved fender or Gibson pickups and not much real innovation.

Lots of promo out there for the Fishman Fluence active pickups but who knows. As far as passive zillions of choices and each one seems to more or less lock you in a direction. If money was no object I would probably go with something from Ronin Guitars as they have a pretty evolved harness and did David Torn’s guitars. If you do find any fancy filters in the active pickups harnesses please post.
Ronin Guitars Pickup Comparision


I’ve got a baritone guitar (Squier Jazzmaster) that I got in a sale and it is great fun. I tend to just jam away playing open chords on it though as it sounds so nice :grin:. As a solo instrument I think it is better suited than a normal guitar (because of the extended frequency range).

I’ve not tried hexaphonic pickups, but one thing I that I do love (in a similar-ish vein), and doesn’t seem to get much attention, is Jam Origins Guitar to MIDI plugin: https://www.jamorigin.com/

It has the best response out of any guitar to midi system I’ve tried, and it doesn’t even need any extra hardware/pickups. For experimental guitar playing I would highly recommend checking it out.


Agreed! I was immidately intrigued when Knobs did a demo of the pedal some time ago, but haven’t really seen much more of it since. (Well, I’m intrigued by anything Knobs demos). My first thought was that it felt somehow inspired by the eurorack scene, which is really nice. I come from a pedalboard background which I think is much more streamline in terms of source to final output. I’ve been experimenting a bit with running the guitar to audio fx modules via the ES-8 - especially Clouds from MI is real fun. Live sampling/SOS with Morphagene too. Or just through filters and such that you can modulate with LFO’s e.g.

(and a big thank you for the kind words)


@lumena As far as a foot controller for Ableton I’ve been using a Behringer FCB 1010. Its cheap and can be mapped to control anything inside Ableton. I use “dummy clips” to automate effects over time without me having to take a hand off the guitar to do it, other effects I control in a stomp-box fashion with the FCB, including the looper in Ableton. Plugins can shape the tone to whatever I want and Ive found it to be a pretty straightforward workflow.


Sounds very workable. Fcb1010 big boy!:rocket:
I always think I want to use triggered clips (super idea if you can flow with it)
until I hear what I did with them played back. I looking more toward an improv approach so that I can feel less like I am driving a rover by remote - So how flexible is working that way for you?
Examples are fun👂


Every time I read the title of this thread I think: “so… you mean an acoustic guitar?” :wink:

I don’t have much to add as far as additional info on mobile rigs (I’ve been using a smallsound/bigsound Mini as a pre-amp to the line-input on my synth…), but these are two technological facets of the guitar I’m interested in seeing explored more:

New Complexity’s tunable third bridge concept (they just realized a vibrato system :heart_eyes: )

Vo-96 “synthesizer” (not many sound examples out there, but the concept is crazy)


In terms of redesigning guitars, Buke and Gase are the only artists who have grabbed me. Those new complexity guitars look wild, though!


Yeah my biggest gripe about the 1010 is its size, its big and heavy and Im really trying to downsize lately. This workflow is actually brand new to me, the intention is to try and create a fresh ground on which to improvise over the top.

I think of it as global effects vs local effects: So say I set an automated global delay to slowly increase over 3 minutes, global meaning it effects all the loops i have running, this becomes the general “story arc” of the composition. On the local level, ie the specific channel I am currently playing the guitar in real time through, I am free to change the effects and or start/stop loops with the 1010. The only thing set in stone is the fact that in 3 min I will be awashed in feedback delays or whatever global effects i have automated to come in, everything else can be organically improvised as i see fit.

It really lends itself to a kind of Post-Rock type composition (This will destroy you, Explosions in the Sky, ect). Songs that build over time to wall of sound crescendo. I think trying to automate typical verse-chorus-bridge structure would be a bit more like just having a jam along track and something Im not really into.

I will hopfully iron out this technique and share some process videos soon, Im not sure how deep into this set up i will go, Im very intrigued by Norns and the Empress Zoia and won’t hesitate to focus on creating a similar process with them.


I’d love to hear more about this. I have a very underutilized FCB1010 and I’m curious what you’re up to with dummy clips.


I had a Boss GP-10 for a minute, and occasional got some really spectacular sounds out of it. Polyphonic distortion is serious instant gratification. And I once set up an elaborate shift register kind of system in PD that would capture the midi notes I was playing for independent sequencing. Super fun.

That said, mostly didn’t really gel with it, particularly on the sound design front. Tiny screen and one encoder, or a pretty clunky desktop editor. It also didn’t totally behave as expected on the midi front, but I may have been trying to shoehorn it into something. Remember trying to control the rate of an lfo with pitch bend in one of the logic synths and coming up short repeatedly.

Would definitely play hexaphonic again, just needed more care and feeding than I could give it at the time.


Hey Phil,
Bjorn Meyer is a 6 string bassist but he is quite interesting

Both are expanded technique, pretty sure he uses a computer. First one obviously loops and playing to, next 2 are physical changes he makes to his guitar.

He is pretty much my current inspiration on not getting caught in the rock idiom but still using a guitar.(ok six string bass.)


i was about to say the same thing and post a Jack Rose video :slight_smile:


Everything I did for the Hylozoic piece I did, was acoustic guitar. …plus Ableton.

and super plus on Jack Rose or maybe Sarah Louise (earlystuff) Acoustic guitar is so sensitive.


i would personally recommend passive—the response is a lot more natural, so to speak, which i’ve found really lends itself to sonic sculpture.