Peavey AT-200 Review: Autotune Guitar

Self-tuning guitar needs to change it's tune to appeal to pro guitarists   18-Sep-13


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Peavey AT-200 - Reviewer: Richard Beech

The Peavey AT-200 is a great idea for a guitar, but does it actually come up with the goods in practice?

The technology itself works well to a certain extent, guitar is never supposed to be snapped to a melodic grid, so while your guitar playing will be perfectly in tune, it won't sound quite right 100% of the time.

The major advantage is that you can switch tunings very easily. Switching to open tunings, cap tunings, drop C, and even bass tuning is relatively easy.

Switching into some of these patches can be quite clunky though. You switch tunings by playing different fretting patterns on the guitar with your left hand, and then playing the strings and holding down the volume knob with your right hand.

Other than the slightly unnatural feel of this process, it's also difficult to remember all the different fretting patterns, and the support manuals and online materials aren't quite up to scratch at the moment.

Obviously, in time, you'd probably memorise those fretting patterns fairly easily, just through repetition.

Different software packages are available for the guitar, and the more money you spend, the more tuning options and pickup patches you get.

As it comes, the AT200 only has a couple of presets Acoustic/Open E/2 fret Capo up DEMO modes to be precise, but you can purchase the extra options: Essential $99, Pro $199 and Complete $299.

But really, the novelty of this guitar is in the fact that it tunes itself at the hit of a button with highly accurate autotune software, and the tunings that come with the Essential Package ($99 extra), such as drop D, or half a step down tuning, are the more commonly used tunings.

That means that this guitar's price tag for the basic package actually appeals to guitarists who aren't at professional level, which is odd, because to me this feels like something that should be targeted towards guitarists who gig regularly and don't want to have to take five different guitars on the road with them.

The Peavey AT-200 essentially eliminates the need to have a roady hand you different guitars in different tunings, but I can't see that a touring guitarist would want to take the AT-200 on the road with them, the guitar itself simply isn't up to scratch.

It's a good bit of fun, something that's good to have around in a studio or at home, or perhaps to take to pub gigs. But the Peavey AT-200 simply doesn't cut the mustard as an instrument, it doesn't feel that great in your hands.

I'd like to see the technology used in a better guitar, with a less clunky way of changing tunings, and with better pickups. When you bypass the DSP, the pickups don't sound all that good, and it just adds to the feeling that there was a lack of care and consideration for the actual quality of this instrument.

It's a cool idea, but it's not a great instrument.

Back to the drawing board, lads?

The Peavey AT200 costs £399/$499 and comes with the basic AutoTune functionality, for anything more you need to purchase one of the additional software packs: Essential $99, Pro $199  or Complete $299

For a complete list of software pack options click here

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