By Chris Scapelliti
Peter Frampton has put his ample star power behind a campaign to create an affordable self-tuning system for guitars.
The guitarist has been a user of AxCent Tuning Systems’ TransPerformance system for years. The self-tuning product allows players to change tunings at the touch of a button on the guitar, or via smart phone. The system can hold hundreds of tunings and uses motorized tuners to retune a guitar in about two seconds.
Unfortunately, it’s been prohibitively expensive for most players—which probably explains why most of us don’t have it, while stars like Frampton, Eddie Van Halen, Joe Perry, Jimmy Page and many others do.
AxCent wants to change that, and Frampton has put his weight behind a Crowdfunder.com campaign to raise $1 million for the manufacture and marketing of Performer, an affordable mass-consumer edition of TransPerformance. If successful, AxCent expects to sell the device for about $400.
“This new AxCent system will have the same functionality at a fraction of the price,” says Frampton, who provides a friendly and informative overview of the product in the video shown below.
Frampton first heard about the AxCent system about 20 years ago, when he learned Jimmy Page was using it. “When I read that Jimmy Page was playing a guitar that not only tuned itself but could change to a different tuning immediately,” he says, “I just had to have one.” (Check out the video at the bottom of this post to see Page use his AxCent system onstage.)
“I do a lot of writing using open tunings, including some that I’ve made up myself,” Frampton says. “AxCent can store loads of user tunings, which is great, as I tend to forget which tuning I used when I’m writing a song.”
Frampton notes that because it takes just a second or two for Performer to change tuning, it’s possible to retune even in the middle of a song.
Pledge perks for the campaign include signed Frampton memorabilia and concert tickets, backstage passes ($25,000), a signed Gibson guitar ($50,000) and more.
Frampton has long had an interest in gadgets, including the talk box, whose popularity soared after he used it on “Show Me the Way” and “Do You Feel Like We Do.” He also has his own line of Framptone products.
“I’ve always been very gadget-conscious,” he says, noting that he made his own electric guitar out of an acoustic when he first began playing. “It’s very interesting to me.”
Frampton is out on tour with Cheap Trick and reportedly has recorded nine songs for a new album he hopes to release later this year or in 2016. His plans also include a fall acoustic tour with his longtime collaborator Gordon Kennedy and his son Julian Frampton.
Go out and see him. In the meantime, you can see Jimmy Page using a guitar fitted with the AxCent system in the video below for “Whole Lotta Love,” from a Page and Plant performance in Irvine, California, October 3, 1995. He uses it to change tunings at the 2:13 spot.