Google's Tone Transfer uses AI to transform your guitar into a saxophone, trumpet, flute or violin

If you’re spending time tweaking your tone, you’re probably prioritizing making your electric guitar or acoustic guitar sound like, well, a better-sounding guitar. 

However, if you’re among those who are more interested in making their guitar sound like a totally different instrument, you may want to have Tone Transfer on your radar.

The free website – designed by Google and Team Magenta – allows users to upload any sound sample and convert it into either saxophone, trumpet, flute or violin. 

Using "machine learning", the website utilizes artificial intelligence, which in turns trawls through thousands of relevant samples to recreate audio signals using brass, woodwind and string sounds.

Like most of us inquisitive folk, Andy Ferris of The Guitar Geek YouTube channel wondered how Tone Transfer would cope with manipulating guitar signals.

So, what did he do? He plugged in a Paul Gilbert signature Ibanez and set about putting the sound-sculpting site through its paces, and the results were, surprisingly, pretty impressive.

At a basic level, Tone Transfer offers up a series of stock inputs you can use – including acapella, birds, carnatic, cello, pots and pans, and synthesizer – to create life-like brass, woodwind and string-instrument sounds.

It also gives you the option of adding your own signal, which Ferris took advantage of by recording Stairway to Heaven, feeding it through the site and turning it into a solo sax line.

Once transformed into the desired instrument, signals can be tweaked using octave, mix and loudness controls to make tones as realistic as possible.

Bearing in mind the software its still in its infancy, Ferris commented, "Think of the future, man! It's doing an amazing job, especially that saxophone. As you could probably tell, that was my favorite."

That did not mean Ferris was without criticism, though. The website seems to struggle with any added effects, meaning reverbs, overdrives and modulations are out of the question. 

Nevertheless, it's a pretty impressive effort given Ferris was pulling no punches while rigorously testing the Tone Transfer software.

If you now have the sudden urge to transform your favorite six-string into a sax, head over to Tone Transfer to try it out for yourself.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.