As a hard-core rocker and roller I find that my gear has to be ready to rock and/or roll at a moment’s notice. There is no telling when I’ll have to lay out a face-melter during jury duty or blast out some Stairway while giving plasma at the local blood bank, and I often note to friends that I enjoy rocking and rolling all night and part of every day. Are you in the same rocking boat? Then let’s take a look at the Fusion Guitar.
An Indiegogo darling, this crowdfunded guitar is now shipping and costs $999 in maple and rosewood. The guitar itself has the fretboard of a full-sized electric but a squat hollow body that is full of batteries, a 20-watt amp, and speakers which gives it a sort of lumpen shape. It’s surprisingly dense – it weighs eight pounds but most of the weight is in the body – and it runs for six hours on a charge.
Like the Yamaha Transacoustic I played a few years ago the trick is that the Fusion contains an amp and speakers, allowing you to turn up the tunes and even run the audio through an iPhone to add audio modeling and record your hot licks. The guitar is compatible with iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6, 6 Plus, 5/SE and iPhone Touch Gen 5 and an iPhone X shield is coming soon. It has three lines out including a P.A. out, a standard 1/4-inch jack for amps, and a 3.5mm jack for headphones. A small speaker on the top of the guitar acts as a sort of built-in monitor.
$999 gets you the guitar, a strap, and a case along with a set of compatible plates. There is no Android compatibility.
I am not a great guitarist but I am a gear head, a sad state of affairs which puts me at a loss when reviewing these in depth. The folks at Guitar World created a far more detailed video of the thing but let me offer a few points for the amateur guitarist. This is a solid learning guitar simply because you can run learning apps front and center and plug the thing into headphones to hear the results. It’s also a very fun tool for looping and noodling, allowing you to record and replay various licks and, with the help of tools like Garage Band, record sketches of songs on the fly. I did enjoy my time with the Fusion and found it to be a clever take on the traditional all-in-one guitar. I could definitely see this as a busker’s friend, allowing a guitarist to fill a little more space without the cost or inconvenience of carrying a full amp, and if you’re fast and good enough you could do some real damage with loops and other digital tricks.
If I had any complaint it’s that the built-in iPhone dock, while clever, didn’t quite work as well as I’d like. While you can see below that various iPhone apps can make your Fusion experience quite unique I didn’t find the entire system to be very intuitive. I mostly enjoyed the amplification and a bit of distortion from the hum bucking pickups and internal amp and ignored a the apps.
I’ve found that guitarists either love or hate gadgets like the Fusion. The familiar, analog sound of a Stratocaster paired with a good amp is always welcome in a music studio but a clever amped guitar like this one is a far harder sell. Like other wacky guitars of the past – the Fusion reminds me a lot of the Vox Guitar Organ – playing these are an acquired taste and require a real investment on the part of the player. At $1,000 the Fusion is far too expensive to be a first guitar – you can get a beginner’s Telecaster for $200 – and too weird to be a daily driver. If you very specifically need a guitar that can be heard in a crowded hall without outside amplification or if you’re a gadget fiend, the Fusion is for you. Otherwise, a digital Line 6 amp or Roland Go:Mixer and some kind of six-string are all you need to recreate this guitar for less cash but I doubt you’ll get the same self-contained satisfaction that this weird Frankenguitar has to offer.