It’s not often that I read something that makes me giggle and laugh with excitement but Music Man have managed to do exactly that with the new Game Changer. It was first announced last year as a system for re-wiring your guitar’s pickup selector any way you want it, in real time, right from your computer screen and yet maintaining an all-analogue signal path. On a guitar with 5 coils (e.g. HSH) and piezo, all the various combinations of series/parallel and in/out-of-phase leads to, quite literally (and I’m not kidding you) millions of tonal possibilities.
I’m serious, for 60 years we were given only the basic pickup combinations that were easiest to wire up on a simple toggle switch. But electric guitars are capable of millions of variations on those basic sounds, if we get creative about how we wire the pickup coils. The Game Changer allows that to happen in an easy and totally soldering iron-free manner. Up to 24 combinations can be stored on the guitar at any time, between a standard 5 position toggle switch (in two banks, accessed via the push-pull tone pot) and a midi-style up-down toggle switch that scrolls through a bank of 14 other sounds.
The guitar connects to your computer or ipad via USB or bluetooth, and with a very intuitive web application you can instantly rewire your pickups however you like, in real time, and save it directly to your guitar with one push of your tone pot. You might want certain sets of combinations for different gigs and you can save your settings to your own personal space on the Game Changer website and access them anywhere you have an internet connection.
Since it’s initial launch at the 2011 NAMM show (where it won the “best in show” prize), regulatory approval delayed it hitting the shelves for a year but in the mean time the folks at Music Man took the opportunity to add even more functionality, in the form of midi-in and -out capabilities. That means that you could, for example, program a midi pedal board to not only change effects patch, amplifier channel, even switch between amplifiers etc., but also change your pickup selection to match.
Imagine going from a high gain tone, with delay, using your bridge humbucker through the lead channel of your amp, then one footswitch giving you the piezo output of your guitar into a clean acoustic amp with reverb? The Game Changer will do that.
The wonderful flip side of this is that you can also control midi instruments with your guitar too. You can program your selector switch to change not only your pickup combinations but also your amp channel, effects, lighting, trigger samples or loops, whatever,right from your guitar!
The Game Changer is currently only available on the Music Man Reflex model guitars and basses and in classic Henry Ford-style, any colour as long as it’s Black. And by the way, the Reflex instruments are amazing, and highly underrated tone machines in their own right.
Yes, every time I see and read about the Game Changer, I giggle with excitement. It really is a tweakers paradise!