One of the limitations that guitarists & bassists have in the digital world is that real time ability to modify your sound in a live playing or recording environment. When I first heard about the Guitar Wing from Livid Instruments, I was somewhat skeptical of using a device on my guitar that could complicate the work that my right hand would have to do. Then I thought of a recent Wilco concert that I attended. And for those of you that have ever seen the guitarist Nels Cline at work, you will know what I`m talking about. His ability to expertly play the guitar whilst manipulating his sound by feverishly bending over and over again to turn knobs and move sliders on a table full of digital/analog effects is both painful and remarkable. This man could use a Guitar Wing (or two).
UPDATE: Livid Instruments has just partnered with Apple to give the Guitar Wing wireless connectivity via Bluetooth to any Apple iOS8 or Yosemite device! As one of the first products to use Apple Bluetooth LE Midi, Livid Instruments has removed any need to plug in via USB but remains as simple as ever, offering the same reliability as before.
CUT TO THE CHASE
The good: Boutique MIDI experts Livid Instruments’ first foray into the guitar world proves there is a market for additional control while playing the instrument.
The bad: The Guitar Wing itself is hard to imagine improvement but the Livid Wing FX Software could have more features and depth to the effects, though we assume further updates will continue to improve this, and thankfully the software is included for free to get users started right out of the box with ease.
The deal maker: Hands on control over anything in your DAW while still maintaining a proper playing position on the guitar allows for an entirely new way to play the instrument and manipulate the sound.
BEHIND THE SCENES
I went to work seeing how well the interface worked with my DAW, Ableton Live. Now, being a PC user, I had some difficulty getting started on this platform, but eventually worked out the kinks. I then switched over to the Apple platform and found the installation to be more user friendly. As well, you will want to install the Wing editor for full customization. The online Wiki user guide and Livid forums will help get you up and running, and once operational, it took only a few minutes to customize the Wing. I was soon shifting pitch, slipping in a drum track and in general, messing with my sound, without having to stop to adjust the settings on my computer or at my feet with one of my digital stomp boxes. I can now control my favorite software plug-ins, DAWs, iOS apps, and MIDI effects units right on the body of the guitar.
The Livid Guitar Wing at its foundation is a wireless controller that uses a blue-tooth transmitter and is plugged into a USB slot. There are no physical wires (other than the standard guitar cable to the sound card connection). The Wing clips onto the lower shoe of the guitar body and contours to the shape of the guitar for an integrated look that fits with almost any shape. From simple reverb to pre-recorded drum loops, and to punch-in`s during a recording, this device enables the rhythm hand to slide, tap and switch effects via 18 triggers. These include four pressure sensitive pads, six function buttons, a 3D motion sensor, three LED faders, and four side switches.
Physically, the Guitar Wing has been well thought out. This doesn’t come as a surprise as Livid Instruments have been well known for quality builds that stand the test of time. The rock-solid, plastic casing fit snugly onto the guitar body of my Strat and Tele. The contoured design does not interfere with existing guitar controls or impede playing, whether in a standing or sitting position, and because of its light weight, it does not throw off the guitars' balance. The placement of the various triggers allows for a natural integration with ones playing experience and doesn’t take anything away from the regular playing experience, only heightening it.
You can use it with the Livid Wing FX software, which features pre-programmed triggers on a number of basic effects, including reverb, delay, distortion, pitch, auto-wah and volume control, to name a few. This software package is intended as a get-you started platform, however, customization is the real power of the Wing. Overall, the Livid Guitar Wing is a serious option for guitarists that want to add a significant layer of depth to their sound. It’s a Game changer.