Mixdown’s top 10 unconventional products of 2017

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Mixdown’s top 10 unconventional products of 2017

1. Fender released a guitar made from seats at the Hollywood Bowl



Like their cardboard guitar, Fender’s Custom Shop Front Row Legend Esquire is no ordinary beast. Using 100 year old Alaskan yellow cedar taken from the seats at the Hollywood Bowl Amphitheatre, Master Builder Yuriy Shiskov created an extraordinary guitar with striking features you can’t miss. The Front Row Legend is based on the original single-pickup Esquire (the precursor to the modern day Telecaster), and features a ’60s style ‘Oval C’ quarter sawn maple neck paired with a vintage 7.25″ radius fingerboard. The body retains all imperfections and cracks present on the wood used, and each guitar proudly bears a different seat number on top of the body, making each instrument unique and exclusive.

2. The Marshall bar fridge landed in Australia

Styled to look just like one of the company’s iconic combo amps, this bar fridge features the authentic Marshall logo, black tolex and fret cloth, gold control knobs, and accented white piping – a staple on Marshall amps. It’s perfect for post-rehearsal drinks with the band, would fit inconspicuously into any pool or lounge room, and best of all, it’s arrived just in time for summer.

3. Guitar-Jo arrived to turn your guitar into a banjo



Guitar-Jo is an electric guitar attachment which effectively morphs your instrument into a banjo. The device attaches itself to the body beneath the strings, with six separate damping pads lightly brushing the strings to produce a banjo-esque twang. Unfortunately, this attachment only works on guitars with a flat surface between the strings and body and as such, Les Paul players won’t be able to use this accessory. Fortunately, learning to play an actual banjo remains a viable option.

4. Fender created a Tele that changes colour in response to temperature 



The Fender thermochromic Telecaster is another one of Fender’s unique triumphs. Built for Joseph Morinelli of Joywave, the guitar is finished with a liquid crystal thermochromic paint that changes colour as it responds to heat. In the video below, watch as Morinelli’s guitar changes from an old lake placid blue to a swampy green. Maybe warming up before a gig will have a different meaning now.

5. Someone made a speaker out of a mushroom



UK student Bertie Ford created a speaker using mycelium, the subterranean fungal network from which mushrooms grow. Ford built the speakers by combining a mix of straw and coffee waste in a mould, and letting it sit for a few weeks. After being baked in an oven for six hours, the mould strengthened enough to house speakers and electronics, and was subsequently finished in a range of materials including brass and wood. By building these unique speakers, Ford hopes to “stimulate more green-thinking” moving into the future.

6. Teenage Engineering introduced a pocket-sized drum synthesiser



One of Teenage Engineering’s most interesting devices, the Tonic PO-32 pocket-sized drum synthesiser lets you make beats whererever you go. Users can manipulate pitch and modulation with the onboard controls in addition to having access to a step sequencer and a variety of drum sounds. The tiny device even includes relatively mundane features such as a clock, alarm clock and a folding stand. The PO-32 has built-in speakers, but also includes a 3.5mm audio I/O jack to bring your beats to the next level.

7. Lowden made a guitar out of whiskey barrels 



The Bushmills x Lowden F-50 acoustic uses authentic whiskey barrel wood from Bushmills Irish Whiskey Distillery for the majority of its parts, including the fret inlays, bindings and rosette, giving it a truly distinct look over regular flamed or quilted guitar tops. The back and sides of this magnificent instrument are made out of bog oak, and the soundboard from sinker redwood. The attention to detail is absolutely stunning but sadly, just eight guitars are planned to be produced from this collaboration.

8. Epiphone built bottle openers into a trio of guitars


Since the dawn of time, it’s been known that guitars and alcohol go hand in hand. As such, Epiphone’s unique trio of signature guitars have a hilarious feature tucked away in their back pocket – a bottle opener. The three guitars each boast a sparkling white finish, with one Explorer (Tommy Thayer) and two Les Paul (Matt Heafy SnØfall) models to choose from. The bottle opener is cleverly camouflaged into the rear of the body, making it unobtrusive for the player and easily accessible for a sneaky cold one mid-gig. 

9. Adidas and Roland brought beats to your feet



A collaboration between Adidas and Roland produced a mid-top sneaker in striking TR-808 inspired colours. The sneakers themselves contain beatmaking circuitry, and are equipped with a volume control and six different pre-programmed settings. Much to our disappointment, these sneakers are only a prototype and no further development plans have been announced, but we remain hopeful.

10. DuoSkin introduced temporary tattoos that double as a MIDI controller



DuoSkin is a state-of-the-art technology coproduced by MIT and Microsoft Research, involving a gold leaf that can be manipulated into temporary tattoos which can be used to trigger MIDI actions. DuoSkin features three types of on-skin interface: the ability to sense touch input, displaying output information, and wireless communication. The possibilities are endless for this form of touch technology, and while DuoSkin is probably geared more towards the eccentric performer, it’s still in early development and may hold exciting things for the future of music performance.