By Eddie Vincent
Lets you focus on making music rather than staying in tune
It’s indisputable that being able to tune your instrument is vital to becoming a competent guitarist and no technology should replace ear training. However, there are times when keeping a guitar in tune with itself and with others is a challenge. New strings, temperature variations, personal playing technique and the nature of how guitars are intonated all work against you. The AT-200 addresses these issues seamlessly and adds a number of cool features and sounds that make it worthy of serious consideration.
Peavey have been making innovative guitars since the ‘70s and I’d been looking forward to getting my hands on their latest offering ever since reading about the AT-200 last summer. The one I got for review came well-boxed and set-up to play. The action was low and the neck relief spot-on with no buzzing. Inside the guitar is housed a DSP chip with Auto-Tune for Guitar (ATG) technology from Antares. The system is powered by 4 AA batteries or from an optional breakout box, the AT-200B.
ATG controls pitch by two means. The first is called “String-Tune” and that’s what tunes your guitar. It’s armed by pushing the Tone knob into the down position, strumming the open strings and pressing the Volume knob momentarily. You can hear the strings tune to pitch without any moving parts. If you finger any notes during the process, then alternate tunings are the result. Press the second fret on the sixth string as you strum and you get a drop-D.
The second component is called “Solid-Tune” and that’s what keeps the guitar in tune up and down the neck, even if the guitar’s intonation is off. Mine was pretty well intonated at the 12th fret, but with ATG activated it was perfect everywhere. I tried playing various sorts of chords all along the fingerboard and each one rang perfectly in tune. Intonation has always been a compromise for the guitarist, but no longer with the AT-200.
Other benefits of this technology include Virtual Capos, Alternate Tunings and Doublings, as well as the capability of emulating acoustic and other electric guitars. All of your settings can be stored as patches that are quickly retrievable, either by fretting a note while pressing the Volume knob or via MIDI. There’s an 8-pin DIN plug on the AT-200 that connects to the AT-200B breakout box or directly to an iPad or MIDI foot controller using a standard 5-pin MIDI cable.
I took the AT-200 to band practice to hear how it sounded live with bass and drums and wasn’t disappointed. We practice in a garage and while the other guitarist was frequently re-tuning his guitar as it adjusted to the ambient temperature, my tuning was locked in. Plus, we’re all tuned down a half step to Eb and it was a snap for me to “capo down” virtually and concentrate on making music.
The AT-200 I received came with all of the expansion packs pre-installed that are now available from Antares. I tested the virtual capos, alternate tunings and different guitar sounds. These include an acoustic 6-string and 12-string, and 8 different pickup types. I particularly appreciated the acoustic guitar sound and the vintage lipstick-tube pickup emulation. Antares is currently offering free demos of the acoustic guitar patch and more.
There’s too much to describe about the AT-200 Auto-Tune guitar and its potential in just one page. I highly recommend that you check out the links below and learn more for yourself.
More: Ideal for sharing with volunteers, perfect tuning every song, ability to store alternate tunings and capo positions for different singers, upgradable with more sounds and features, works as a normal electric guitar too
Less: MIDI interface and computer required for updates and add-on packs
List price $999.99