Gibson’s Dark Fire Coming in December

Photos by Sandy Campbell

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

The company famous for innovative designs is releasing the second generation Robot Les Paul.

Photos by Sandy CampbellWell, Gibson’s at it again. The company famous for innovative designs turned industry standards, although not always appreciated in their own time (‘58 Flying V anyone?), is releasing the second generation Robot Les Paul claimed to offer an infinite amount of tone possibilities and the ability to produce any guitar sound “with one click.” Quite a tall order…

Much in the evolutionary style of the PAF humbucking pickups created by Gibson’s own Seth Lover, the new Dark Fire begins with the concept of 2007’s Robot Les Paul and runs with it, creating a faster, smoother, longer-lasting and more streamlined model. The evolution revolution begins with the Dark Fire’s pickups, which form the basis for its Chameleon Tone Technology. In the bridge position is the popular Burstbucker 3 PAF-style humbucker with the neck position featuring the new P-90H. The P-90H is a hum-less version of the classic P-90 pickups found in the earliest Goldtop Les Pauls. Sticking with the dark aesthetic of the Dark Fire both pickups are covered with “carbon fiber-like” pickup covers. In addition to the two electromagnetic pickups a Gibson-designed piezo acoustic pickup is also featured which is actually made up of six individual piezos for each string and saddle. The pickup selector switch, although appearing typical to the unknowing eye, can be twisted via rotary pot to blend the acoustic and electric signals up to 100 percent in either direction. Also, by utilizing the Dark Fire’s “Master Control Knob” as a switching matrix, over 20 tone combinations are possible between all the pickups.

Photos by Sandy Campbell

The Dark Fire’s full potential can be unleashed with the included Robot Interface Pack (RIP) and Guitar Rig 3 software. FireWire and MIDI capabilities are fully available to connect the Dark Fire to digital audio workstations, recording, and sound-processing systems. In a time when even 2007’s revolutionary product can be outdone in a matter of months upgrades are of course bound to be of some concern. The new Dark Fire, as well as the Robot of the previous generation, is fully capable of upgrade in order to keep your investment in their technology up-to-date.

One of the most distinctive returning features from the Robot guitar is the much-improved self-tuning capability. The Dark Fire features quicker, lighter, and smaller powerhead tuners that are now close to the same size as traditional tuners. In the style of the Robot guitar, the Master Control Knob-which resides amongst the volume and tone knobs-allows preset tunings to be instantly accessed in less than one second. This allows for an abundance of live tuning freedom. Gibson also remedied one of the complaints with the Robot’s powerhead tuners. The Dark Fire’s tuners can now be used in either auto mode or the old fashioned way, manually. Additionally, the new battery system has been improved to last up to 500 tunings before charging.

Additional features include locking tuners, a bridge locked into the studs, a comfortable asymmetrical neck, an ergonomically improved Master Control Knob for easier use and visual display, and a “PerfectSetupTM” from the sophisticated PLEK fret system. Also, a new Teflon-based nut is featured in the Dark Fire that allows for fast, smooth tuning and bending due to its limited friction.

The Dark Fire is also as aesthetically striking as it is technologically. A deep red nitro finish (that thankfully hides none of the wood grain) accentuates the guitar’s chambered mahogany body and stunning maple top. The headstock features the elegant “flowerpot” inlay just below the Gibson logo and the fretboard is graced by a modernized version of the classic block inlays which appear in the same carbon fiber-like fashion as the pickup covers, for better or worse. Finally, the body is rimmed with dual black binding.

The new Dark Fire provides guitar lovers with an improved form of Robot technology and surely many happy customers will be able to utilize the guitar’s extensive features. The release will likely also lead to healthy discussions regarding the virtues and pitfalls of technological progress. Will the new Dark Fire really allow for “infinite tonal possibilities,” and the production of “any guitar sound with one click?” Perhaps not. After all, what would progress be without infinite possibilities for improvement? Innovation is always exciting and with the promise of upgradeable technologies the Dark Fire is bound to entertain road warriors and bedroom players alike. Whatever you do, don’t dismiss it like the ‘58 V. We’re witnessing progress here in real time.

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