Ever since smartphones started to gain prominence about 10 years ago, a wide variety of guitar-oriented apps have emerged that offer players incredibly powerful performance, recording, practice and educational capabilities for a relatively modest investment.
But perhaps the biggest appeal of guitar apps is the portability of a smartphone-based setup.
However, there’s one small problem with an app-based rig; usually an interface and headphones or an external amp are required, and guitarists find themselves tethered to several items that restrict their mobility and can make the setup more cumbersome than they’d like.
The Fusion Guitar offers an appealing alternative for guitarists who love apps but would prefer an all-in-one system that’s as portable as an acoustic guitar. Everything a guitarist needs is built into the Fusion Guitar, including a dock for an iPhone or iPod Touch, amplification, speakers and battery.
The Fusion Guitar is truly a plug-and-play system that takes all of the hassles out of using an app, smartphone and interface setup, making it ideal for anything from casual practice to on-stage performance.
At its heart, the Fusion Guitar is not much different from a standard electric model, featuring a 22-fret neck (with maple or rosewood fretboard options), a 25 ½-inch scale length, a pair of humbucking pickups (with coil tap for the bridge humbucker) and a Badass-style all-in-one wraparound bridge with separate adjustable saddles for each string.
However, the body is made of an injection-molded polymer, measures about 3 ½ inches deep and houses a pair of front-facing 25-watt full-range “audience” speakers plus a single upward-facing 20-millimeter mid/high-frequency 10-watt monitor speaker. There’s also a rechargeable internal lithium-ion battery with an adapter socket and power on/off button.
Along the top edge of the upper bout is an interchangeable docking bay for various iOS devices with Lightning connectors (six individual docks for iPhone 7, 7 Plus, 6, 6 Plus, 5/SE and iPhone Touch Gen 5 are included).
The iOS device’s screen faces up toward the player and is easy to reach, making it easy to control guitar apps or view video material. The Fusion Guitar’s built-in speakers amplify the app-processed signal, which also can be amplified externally using the ¼-inch line output jack. There’s also a standard ¼-inch output for the guitar-only signal, a 1/8-inch headphone output and individual volume controls for the guitar-only and internal 20-watt Class D amp/app-processed signals.
Setting up the Fusion Guitar couldn’t be any easier. After charging the guitar’s internal battery (it takes about three hours to reach full charge), just install the dock that matches your iOS device, slip the iOS device into the dock, power up and you’re good to go without any extra cables, interfaces or other items dangling from the guitar. Best of all, there are no limitations to which guitar app you can use with the guitar.
The Fusion Guitar internal amp’s output is comparable to that of a small practice amp—not quite loud enough for a small club gig or practice with a band, but loud enough to fill a medium-size room on its own. The Fusion Guitar offers the same portability and all-in-one compactness of playing an acoustic guitar, but with the added benefit of louder volume output and a nearly endless selection of virtual amp and effects tones.
The main consideration is whether you like the guitar itself; if you prefer a neck with a slimmer shred profile or different types of pickups, you may need to wait for future Fusion Guitar models to come along as the concept grows in popularity. Overall the quality of the guitar itself is comparable to various mid-price models, which should please the majority of players out there.
DIRECT PRICE: $1,399
MANUFACTURER: Fusion Guitar, fusionguitars.com
● An internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery powers the built-in 20-watt amp and speakers to amplify the user’s app-based tones as well as the guitar’s natural electric tones.
● An iPhone or iPod Touch mounts into the guitar’s top-mounted docking bay where it’s easy to control and view.
THE BOTTOM LINE
With its built-in amplifier and speakers combined with a dock that accommodates various Apple iPhone or iPod Touch iOS devices, the Fusion Guitar makes using app-based rigs as easy and convenient as playing an acoustic guitar.