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Les Paul sunburst
A Gibson Les Paul with the current version of the Performer self-tuning system for electric guitars. The user can preset the device to electronically store as many as 240 tunings. When a tuning is selected, a system of sensors and motors adjusts the tension on all six strings simultaneously. The LCD screen cut into the side of the body shows the note, octave and cent value of all six strings.
Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page was TransPerformance's first client. Before the Performer system was compressed into a guitar body--when it was still a couple of laptops plugged into a guitar--the guitarist explored the musical possibilities of the self-tuning device, which now can be used to quickly change tunings during a song. The Gibson Les Paul that Page is holding, from his collection, is equipped with an early version of the system. Note the single row of push buttons. Current models of The Performer feature two rows of buttons, making it easier to move through control menus, insert tunings and edit each setting.
Les Paul Special, back view
TransPerformance founder Neil Skinn originally designed the self-tuning system for his Gibson Les Paul, a solid-body electric guitar that, unmodified, weighs about 8 pounds. A fair amount of wood is routed out of the guitar body to accommodate the Performer's electronics and other hardware, shown here on a mahogany Les Paul Special. The weight of a modified guitar is roughly the same as the weight of one without the system. The Performer runs on its own power supply and does not affect the electronics that control the guitar's pickups or tone.