It probably doesn’t look or feel like what you are used to playing, but this curious looking guitar has some serious advantages that guitarists and songwriters can put to good use. It’s called a silent guitar because you can plug your headphones in and only you can hear it. You can also plug in a music player with iPod input and play along. However, you aren’t limited to just playing alone in your room. You can use the output with an acoustic amp or sound system to entertain a crowd or record with a pretty authentic electrified acoustic sound, as well as some very serious onboard guitar samples.
Yamaha’s silent guitar has been around since the early 2000s and was recently updated. It looks pretty much the same with a solid mahogany block from tuning machines to tail pin. It comes in three finishes: Natural, Trans Black and Tobacco Sunburst. It has a standard, good-feeling rosewood acoustic guitar fretboard, but only the outline of a cutaway body formed with a maple laminate. The treble side of the cutaway is permanently fixed, but the bass side has slots that allow the frame to be plugged in and out so you can pack it up into its well-padded gig bag. That all makes it very easy to travel with. While the feel of the fretboard will be familiar for most, the lack of body is not and might take some getting used to before you are totally comfortable playing the Silent Guitar.
Besides its ‘double take’ looks, the most remarkable thing about this new Silent Guitar is the advanced electronics. Under the saddle, there is a good-sounding SRT (Studio Response Technology) piezo pickup. In addition, there is an SRT blend control that overlays a digital SRT ‘sample’ that simulates the sound of a real acoustic guitar recorded in a professional studio with a high-end microphone. (Rumor has it that the sample is a Yamaha LS26 guitar recorded in a pristine recording environment at East-West Studios in Los Angeles with a Royer R-122 microphone). To complement the tone, two reverb options and a chorus are available for effects along with treble and bass EQ controls. The onboard tuner is easy to read and mutes the output for performance situations.
Many will buy the Silent Guitar because it offers a great solution for practicing without disturbing others. You can physically be in the same room with someone watching television or reading a book, happily playing away with headphones, and not be heard. Ideal for apartment dwellers and late night practice sessions, the Silent Guitar has the feel of an acoustic instrument, but produces none of the sound unless you choose to use headphones or connect it to an amplifier.
This updated SLG200S Silent Guitar from Yamaha is a great travel companion, being compact when disassembled, and the included case is very responsible which is a nice bonus. However, unlike typical travel guitars, it can be a serious songwriting or performance instrument. There is also a nylon string version. While this guitar’s unique looks will make most people look twice, the great sound it produces will surprise them even more.
Street Price: $629
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