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Equipment Review - Moog Model E1 Guitar

Posted by Six-String Samurai Gear Reviews on 12 September 2012


Hey everyone! Six-String Samurai here again to talk guitars with you - and what a guitar I've got today! Half guitar, half synth - if it were a person, it'd be a Terminator of some sort.

:: What's in a MOOG ::

Moog Music was founded in the 50s, and pioneered the invention of analog synthesizers. Now, while I'm not really so much of a synth guy, what I like about them is that despite their "oh no, I'm so complicated, and have many knobs!" look, they're usually housed in beautiful wooden boxes, which, I think, decreases my innate fear that they are going to rise up and take control of my toaster, or something. Aside from that, though, they're definitely the synth de rigueur for the hip and happening, or just the guitarist who wants to make beautiful noises that no one would recognize as coming from an earthly instrument.

An example of a high profile Moog fan is John Frusciante. Don't even get me started on him leaving the Chili Peppers (AGAIN), but check out his touring pedalboard for one of the last tours - filled to the brim with MOOG content!

:: Take that thing, put it in the other thing ::

It seems like an obvious idea to take the synth thing, and put it into the guitar thing. Magic, you now have a synthy guitar thing!

All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.

Back in the '80s, Moog tried this with the Gibson RD. The flagship guitar of that line (the RD Artist) basically had HALF of its body routed out to fit in the Moog electronics!! Talk about your accidental semi-hollow. Despite all that, I think it was a pretty cool look - the forgotten cousin of the Flying V and Explorer.

In recent years the Gibson RD has enjoyed some resurgence to high profile, largely thanks to Dave Grohl's use of them live. However, I can't help but think that as a guitar (forgetting the synth component), it probably just didn't sound that good - 100% maple construction would have made for some toothachingly BRIGHT tones! In fact, I think Gibson realized this as well, when they reissued the RD a few years ago with all-mahogany construction.

Fast forward to the 2000s, and Moog are determined to fully develop the concept that was "almost there" with the RD1. Introducing the Moog Guitar Model E1.

:: It's a real guitar! ::

I like the fact that Moog have actually gone to the trouble to make sure this is actually a decent guitar in its own right, rather than an empty shell to shove synth guts into.

Abandoning outlandish shapes, they've gone for a classic Superstrat style, while putting their own cutting edge slant on the body design. The fast playing neck boasts an ebony fretboard, and is glued into a solid alder body - a tried and true tonewood combination.

The synth controls are introduced on gracefully recessed section of the bottom bout, while piezo pickups are nestled under the bridge, allowing you to achieve any combination of magnetic and piezo tones.

So - where's the Moog goodness?? From the horse's mouth:

What makes this guitar so special?

The Moog Guitar Electronics add an unparalleled range of expression to the Moog Guitar:

FULL SUSTAIN MODE - like no other sustainer; infinite sustain on every string, at every fret position and at any volume. You may have heard sustain before but not with this power (we call it "Vo Power") and clarity.

CONTROLLED SUSTAIN MODE - allows you to play sustained single or polyphonic lines without muting technique. The Moog Guitar sustains the notes you are playing while actively muting the strings you are not playing.

MUTE MODE - removes energy from the strings, resulting in a variety of staccato articulations. The mute mode has never been heard on any other guitar; the Vo Power stops the strings with the same intensity that it sustains them. You feel the instrument transform in your hands.

HARMONIC BLENDS - use the included foot pedal to shift the positive energy of Vo Power in Sustain mode and the subtractive force of Vo Power in Mute mode between the bridge and neck pick-ups to pull both subtle and dramatic harmonics from the strings.

MOOG FILTER - control the frequency of the built-in, resonant Moog ladder filter using the foot pedal or a CV Input.

:: Endless Possibilities ::

The possibilities are truly endless. The sustainer feels intensely strong, in part due to  the special Moog strings (which have a higher steel core content to allow more magnetic pull) creating a push/pull feeling which really changes the way you interact with it. The intelligent control system senses which strings you're using, and vibrates those to life while muting the ones you're not. Hold a chord with one hand, let it sustain, while playing sliding melody lines with your other hand - sublime.

On the other side of the coin, possibly my favourite thing about the E1 is the feature called- Mute Mode. It does what it implies, and takes kinetic energy away from the strings, causing them to die out almost immediately. It radically changes the whole sound and feel of the guitar yet again, and gave me the impression that I was plucking along on a traditional Eastern instrument like a Chinese zither. It truly feels like you're playing a whole new instrument, which can in turn inspire a whole different side of your playing that you never thought existed.

You know what? All this cool stuff, and we haven't even got to the foot controller yet. Yup, this bad boy comes with what looks like a wah pedal, but is actually a variable foot controller for the Moog filters.

Using the "articulated" and "ladder" filter modes, you can make ethereal, swirly sounds, or skip straight to adding vocal, almost wah-like qualities to your tone. Hook it up to a synth or processor via MIDI to "unlock" more sonic possibilities, or like this guy, connect it to a theremin for hilarious good times!!

:: The only limit is your imagination ::

With the Moog E1, you can let your guitar take you to places you never thought possible - whether you want to be a Matt Bellamy style prog-lite wizard, a fusion jazz guru, or explore your exotic Eastern influences. If you want to blaze a brave new path through the musical world, then perhaps it's time you took a closer look...

- Six-String Samurai Gear Reviews

Rockshop have the Moog Music Model E1 Guitars at all-time low Spring Special prices.

Click here to view the product information page in our shop...