The VO-96 Acoustic Synthesizer is an invention of Paul Vo, better known for the infinite sustain technology inside the Moog Guitar. This particular attachment however is meant to be used in acoustic guitars, and although it’s being called a “synthesizer”, it’s really nothing like one.
You’ve probably heard an electric guitar make all sorts of crazy sounds thanks to either digital or analog processing. The Vo-96 works entirely differently[.] Rather than modify the waveform after the fact—as in the case of an electric guitar and an effects pedal—the Vo-96 alters the waveform in real-time. In other words, the Vo-96 changes the very physics of how a guitar makes sound to begin with. How do you do that? The device has what Vo calls a “two-way conversation” with the guitar strings. It listens to the strings and then applies a precisely calculated magnetic energy back to the strings to change how they sound.
That’s right, the synthesizer itself doesn’t synthesize anything; it makes the guitar strings themselves behave differently. Which means that the kinds of sounds it’s able to produce are unlike anything a guitar is capable of in the first place, and the possibilities for creative musicians out there are proverbially endless.
The product isn’t completely ready for primetime, however Vo is putting it up on Kickstarter with the hopes of getting it in the hands of early adopters, who could help refine what is possible with the product. Depending on when you sign up, it’ll cost you a hefty $1,250 or $1,450.