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Jam today: new guitar controllers from Zivix & RND64

Introducing Jamstik Studio & Jammy Guitar

You wait ages for a MIDI guitar controller, and then two similarly named ones come along at once. Well, not quite — one has in fact been around for a while in a prototype form — but what is unusual is that news of both of them came to the attention of SOS within days of each other. Zivix were interviewed by the SOS team covering the Summer NAMM show about their original Jamstik MIDI Guitar in 2014, but they skipped this year’s Nashville show because they were working on its successor, the Jamstik Studio (below). Unlike the original 17-inch Jamstik, the new model is a portable MIDI guitar with an internal rechargeable battery about three-quarters of the size of a traditional electric — the fretboard is a standard length (25.5 inches, with 24 frets), but the minimal body and headless design mean the instrument is smaller overall.

Zivix's Jamstik Studio.Zivix's Jamstik Studio.

Jamstik Studio can output audio and MIDI simultaneously via a standard quarter-inch guitar jack (for the guitar’s audio) and USB-C or 3.5mm TRS connections (for the MIDI data, which can also be output over Bluetooth) and will ship with a dedicated VST plug-in for its MIDI sounds, but is of course compatible with any DAW/plug-in host. It’s expected to be available in the Autumn for around $800.

The completely unrelated company RND64 were at Summer NAMM this year, having also completely redesigned their original MIDI controller, the Jammy Guitar, following its launch in 2017. The slightly odd telescopic, fretboard-only look of the prototype has been replaced by a super-portable 17-inch design with steel strings and 15 frets, and which can be assembled quickly from four sections (shown below).

The new version of RND64's Jammy Guitar can be carried in four parts for easy portability, and then quickly assembled for use when travelling.The new version of RND64's Jammy Guitar can be carried in four parts for easy portability, and then quickly assembled for use when travelling.

As on the prototype Jammy Guitar, the strings you strum remain separate from the strings played by your fingering hand — sensors are used to detect which strings you play. There is an associated Android/iOS app with a metronome, backing track playback facility and training routines, but this is not needed for sound generation — the MIDI data derived from the sensors is used to trigger samples on an internal sound source, so there are no latency issues. You can listen on headphones, and your MIDI performances are also stored internally. The built-in battery has a claimed life of up to four hours, so you can perform on the Jammy when travelling and import your MIDI data to a DAW for further editing later. When connected to a DAW via its USB-C MIDI out in the studio, it can also be used as a MIDI controller. It’s available now online for £404$499.

We’ll be reviewing both of these products in SOS very soon. More information can be found at the products' dedicated websites here and here.

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