The expression “May you live in interesting times” was purportedly a translation of a Chinese curse. But as we are in the midst of one of the most interesting times for acoustic guitar craftsmanship and technology since the “Golden Era” of the '30s, that saying may actually be a very pleasant sentiment.
One of the most fascinating recent developments for acoustic guitar is the HyVibe guitar system, which is exclusively available on several models offered by France’s Lâg Guitars.
The HyVibe system provides multi-effects processing and looping functions that are amplified internally via vibration technology, which even allows the guitar to function as a Bluetooth speaker. The HyVibe system can also be controlled via a free mobile app.
This technology is paired with three different Lâg dreadnought cutaway models, which provide guitarists with affordable access to this technology without sacrificing quality and playability. We took a look at the most affordable model, the Lâg Tramontane HyVibe THV10DCE.
The THV10DCE guitar’s construction details include a solid red cedar top, Khaya (African) mahogany back, sides and neck, and Brownwood fingerboard and bridge. (Brownwood/Blackwood technology modifies soft woods through drying, compression and coloring process to replicate hard tonewoods like rosewood and ebony.)
The neck has a 650mm scale length, slim C-shaped profile and 20 nickel silver frets, and the neck and body also have a satin open-pore finish.
The HyVibe controller is installed in the guitar’s upper bass bout, in the same place where acoustic-electric preamps and controls are usually mounted. The controller features a large monochromatic LED screen, down, up and enter/back buttons, a volume knob that doubles as a push/push on/ off button and a fader for adjusting parameters.
The HyVibe controller provides access to numerous functions, including tuner, effects (reverb, chorus, delay, octave, tremolo, phaser and distortion), looper, metronome, Bluetooth speaker, MIDI pedal, USB and system. Input, output and USB C jacks you will find located on the lower bout near the endpin.
The HyVibe Mobile App allows users to modify all the effects, configure looper settings, record playing, create custom effect banks, configure the order of effects on the controller and calibrate the guitar.
The HyVibe system generates effects via the guitar itself without needing external amplification, similar to the ToneWoodAmp and Yamaha TransAcoustic. And unlike the Tonewood and Yamaha, the HyVibe system uses two actuators to “excite” the top of the guitar, rather than the back, for a more precise and defined sound.
Also, HyVibe’s connectivity allows for it to be updated regularly with new effects or functionality. HyVibe offers a wider variety of effects, and the effects can sound quite prominent if desired. The looper function simply blew my mind the first time I tried it - it was almost shocking to hear the guitar playing back my performance by itself with exactly the same sound. The effects and looper deliver professional-quality sound and performance and greatly expand the concept of playing unplugged.
The mobile app greatly expands the power of the effects section by allowing users to modify each effect to their preferences and control a wider variety of parameters and settings than those accessible via the controller.
In addition to being amplified acoustically, the effects can also be amplified externally since the processed signal is routed through the output jack. The HyVibe system’s battery lasts for about 10 hours of constant use, and it then recharges quickly in a few hours, using the provided USB adapter.
The guitar itself is an impressive and satisfying platform for accessing the HyVibe technology’s capabilities. It delivers classic dreadnought tone with brilliant treble and big, blasting bass that’s slightly tamed thanks to the cutaway. The attention to detail in the craftsmanship is outstanding, resulting in an instrument that feels very smooth and comfortable in the player’s hands and providing satisfying playability.
- STREET PRICE: $999.99
- MANUFACTURER: Lâg Guitars
- TOP MATERIAL: Solid red cedar
- BACK AND SIDE MATERIAL: Khaya mahogany
- FINISH: Satin open pore
- BRIDGE: Brownwood
- NECK: Khaya Mahogany
- FINGERBOARD: Brownwood
- FRETS: 20 - silver nickel
- TUNERS: DieCast, black satin, ratio 1:18
- NUT: Black graphite / 43 mm
- ELECTRONICS: HyVibe system