Better Vibrations

The two black pickup units control how the strings vibrate.

Every shredder, from Les Paul to Jack White, has tweaked the sound of his guitar—adding echo, distortion or “wah-wah”­—by manipulating the electric signal it produces. The Moog Guitar, on the other hand, manipulates the strings themselves, changing how it sounds and how it feels to play.

Below the strings on the Moog, as on any electric guitar, are electromagnet pickups. As the metal string vibrates, it disrupts their magnetic field, yielding a signal that gets converted to sound.

But the Moog’s pickups can actually change a string’s motion in three ways. In “sustain” mode, the magnetic field pulses in time with a string to hold a note indefinitely. Or it can vibrate the strings: Just press against the fretboard like pressing the keys of a synthesizer. “Mute” mode pulses out of sync with the string, cutting the note short for the “crisp” sound and feel of a banjo. “Controlled sustain” dampens only the strings you graze by mistake. There’s also a setting that resembles the Moog synth made famous by musicians like Stevie Wonder.

Rock pioneers like Lou Reed are already using the Moog to create new sounds. Expect to hear it on albums soon.