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Used extensively by DJs, the Korg Kaoss pad is a touchpad MIDI controller that allows real-time manipulation of its internal effects engine for line-in signals or audio samples.
Despite its intended audience, the Kaoss has made its way into the rigs of some noteworthy guitarists, including Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, Nels Cline of Wilco, and Muse’s Matt Bellamy, who had one built into his custom guitar so he could manually trigger synthesized sounds.
The innovative folks at Ibanez have taken this to the next level with the RG Kaoss RGKP6, an affordable guitar that integrates Korg’s mini kaoss pad 2S to give players a great way to manipulate effects, samples and loops in real time.
FEATURES At the heart of the RG Kaoss RGKP6 is a solid and well-specified guitar. The RG Kaoss RGKP6 features a mahogany body, a maple neck, a rosewood fretboard with 24 jumbo frets, a fixed bridge, a master volume control, a built-in distortion circuit with dual controls for gain and tone, and two mini-toggle switches for the distortion circuit (on/off) and kaoss control (on/bypass). There’s also a 1/8-inch headphone jack next to the instrument output jack. The guitar comes with a single-coil-size IBZ-KP humbucking pickup that sounds remarkably thick and delivers plenty of slice for metal or rock.
Of course, the Korg mini kaoss pad 2S takes the guitar’s spec to a whole other level. It features more than 100 effects, including filters, modulations, delays, vocoders, LFOs, loopers, reverbs and synthesizers, and comes with six audio demo loops. The unit has a small LED display window to show presets, a value slider, a touchpad and functions that include FX release, hold, program memories and auto-bpm detection.
A sampler function lets you import audio through the built-in mini line-input jack and mic to capture sounds with high-quality 24-bit/48kHz sampling. From there, you can alter the playback speed, loop the sample or change the cue point. Everything can be saved to a microSD/SDHC card for safekeeping. The mini kaoss pad requires two AA batteries and easily locks into the recessed cavity of the guitar’s body, where it connects with red and black plugs.
PERFORMANCE On its own, the RG Kaoss RGKP6 guitar is a solid instrument. Its low action and the ergonomic positioning of the kaoss pad, near your picking hand, makes playing this guitar and scrolling through its onboard effects great fun. While it won’t replace your favorite stomp box or multieffect unit, the kaoss pad allows a high level of fingertip control over effects. Depending on the preset, sweeping across the touchpad can generate intensely twisty and mangled LFO or filter effects, variable time-based effects, DJ-style vinyl breaks and even pitch bends. The Hold function is particularly useful for freezing an effect parameter, so you can continue to play over it hands free. All this inspiration comes with a cost to battery life, which tops out at around three hours, but that’s a minor gripe for an inspiring guitar that can add some electronica wallop to your performances.
LIST PRICE $577.76
MANUFACTURER Ibanez Guitars, ibanez.co.jp
The RG Kaoss RGKP6 features an onboard high-gain distortion circuit for more sustain and exaggerated sounds when combined with presets from the mini kaoss pad 2S.
The mini kaoss touchpad allows you to intuitively control more than 100 dynamic effects, preset loops and sampler functions with your fingertips.
THE BOTTOM LINE The Ibanez RG Kaoss RGKP6 guitar is an expressive instrument that allows you to trigger a variety of popular effects using its built-in Korg mini kaoss pad 2S controller.