Digital and the Future of Guitar

By Paul Whitehead
In Dec 2, 2013
Digital and the Future of Guitar

Digital and the Future of Guitar

There’s no doubt the influence of digital has been huge in the music world in the past decade. However, being performance specific (with the exclusion of digital album sales and the music business), the guitar has evolved due to this influence. The question is: where will guitar performance be in the next 30 to 50 years?

In the words of Peter Kirn, in his article discussing digital guitar equipment, “We guitarists tend to be a technologically conservative bunch”. Although this may be true, as many guitarists would rather die than use digital equipment over their boutique analog equipment, there is no shortage of digital resources on the market.

Companies such as Misa Digital have engineered the ‘Kitara’, which is a guitar synthesizer that emulates sounds similar to that of a traditional saw-tooth keyboard frequency, some might call it a ‘key-tar’. Guitarists from Muse to Coal Chamber have used it as a guitar instrument in performance. The instrument is also based on the guitar strings and not piano keys as a key-tar would be.

Personally,I feel an instrument such as this would be a great help in sessions where the music is screaming electronic dance and the producer tells you to “play something to match it”. Really? Although collaborations of electronic music and guitar have been successful in the past, with artists such as Depeche Mode, how will traditional guitar distortion without the aid of digital effects be used in harmony along with Dubstep producers such as Deadmau5 or Skrillex?

Could it be that the guitar may be excluded if it doesn’t evolve to fit its electronic counterparts? You may be thinking, “Well that music is not for guitars, I’ll just carry on playing Stevie Ray Vaughn“. With all due respect to that music, and being a fan of Stevie Ray myself, this may lead to guitarists becoming the extinct musician in future music ensembles. This is obviously not something that any of us wants. So these questions are relevant in order to make us think about how we can either adapt or manipulate music to suit the guitar.

Unfortunately for some, there is no escaping electronic dance music, colloquially termed today as EDM. As production software and equipment becomes more powerful, so the howling pinch harmonics of a distorted guitar amplifier become less significant. Either hate on it or adapt to it, that is if you still want to remain relevant to the music world. That is why guitars such as the Misa Digital ‘Kitara’ may become important to the industry. Programs such as Guitar Rig 5 and the like have already started employing patches with an edgier or unorthodox sounds.

We could also look to the likes of guitarists such as Tom Morello for justice over the evil grunts of the wobble bass. It is already evident, however, creative Morello may be, that he is fully aware of the digital and analog tools that could enhance this battle of sound. It may be a fear that is irrational (like 80s drummers being threatened by the advent of the drum machine), but we must be prepared for anything. The guitarist must be heard! If you’d like to ask questions or share your opinion related to topics such as this and guitar in general leave a comment below or post on any social media platform.

Further Reading:

Kirn, P. (2013) Tech for Guitarists: What’s new, what’s changing in digital guitar tools (NAMM Report) [Online] Available at: http:/ (accessed 21 November 2013)

Misa Digital. (2013) Misa Digital Homepage [Online] Available at: http:/ (accessed 21 November 2013)

Native Instruments (2013) Guitar Pro 5 [Online] Available at: (accessed 21 November 2013)

Profile photo of Paul Whitehead

*Completing a BMus (Hons) at COPA *Plays for “Layla Scar” and “Book of Thieves” *Is a beginners specialist *Knows the secret Pat Metheny chords *Plays in the Rhema Young Adults Band *Also plays keyboards *Can even play Jonas Brothers songs *Has completed a Higher Diploma in Guitar and Keyboards from The Academy of Contemporary Music in London

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