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Founder Dan Sullivan started the journey that would eventually lead to the development and release of his music products in the Apple Store as a synth circuit designer. Being a banjo and guitar player himself, he was always interested in bringing the two worlds together to create unique musical performance technology that would accommodate string players. Born out of that motivation, Minneapolis, Minnesota based Zivix is comprised of a small core group of passionate individuals set to create and release innovative new music products that meet the demands of modern day musicians.
Initially, Zivix cut its teeth in the world of software including everything from console gaming to music based software that blurred the lines between actual music creation and the Guitar Hero craze. It was clear to Dan and his core team that while the music game hype was starting to fizzle out, string/guitar players were in need of a new platform that would accommodate modern day music performance, production and education.
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With years of development in optical sensors and wireless MIDI technology, Zivix began molding what would later become jamstik, the guitar for your iPad. With full wireless MIDI integration, jamstik is a five fret controller designed to simultaneously offer a new platform for learning how to play the guitar and an innovative new guitar-like instrument for experienced players.
“It’s a disruptive first foot into stringed instrument technology…uses real time optical sensing and marries to the Apple product line,” Zivix Music Specialist Chris Heille said.
Drummers and piano players have a wealth of instruments and controllers available to them from drum pads and MIDI keyboards, to DJ controllers and the ever popular grid options. These devices allow musicians to make music in different ways than they would on traditional instruments, offering full integration into modern day recording suites. While there are other MIDI guitars out there and even some audio analysis add-on devices for actual guitars, it’s the optical detection, wireless tech and accessibility that allows jamstik to stand out in the crowd.
In the video above, Chris recreates Daft Punk’s Get Lucky using jamstik, iPad and a few widely available iOS apps.
This is not a guitar, nor is it designed to replace the one you already own or want. The jamstik offers string players a coherent and familiar way to enter the world of MIDI while also allowing for a unique and effective learning experience.
The jamstik is portable at only 16-inches (2lbs 4oz), features 6 real guitar strings (no tuning required) and connects with just about any iOS and Mac music apps over Wi-Fi or USB. Using optical sensors hidden beneath the fret board, it has full pitch and bend detection across five frets and the top mounted D-Pad can, among other things, transpose the instrument up or down as many octaves as desired. There is also a handy (and quite playable) mute button situated at the base (bridge) of the instrument. With the included rechargeable Lithium battery you’ll get about 8 hours of play time on a single charge.
There are three companion iOS apps that come alongside jamstik. The jamstik Connect app is used to simply connect and sync with your iDevice. jamMix is a “DJ-meets-Guitar musical remix” app that allows users to trigger loops and jam along to provided construction kit-style songs and acts as a great demo for jamstik in general. Lastly, jamTutor is a somewhat unique approach to learning how to play the guitar. The built-in optical sensors behind the fret board allow the app to give starter musicians live feedback on finger positioning throughout a mixture of interactive lessons and Guitar Hero-style challenges, among other things. The close integration between jamstik and the learning app makes for what in my opinion might be one of the most accessible and affordable ways for someone to learn how to play the guitar.
The jamstik is able to send MIDI wirelessly to iDevices and OSX, a technology the company has been working on for many years. In fact, Zivix has developed some of the best MIDI over Wi-Fi technology available, in some cases achieving transfer speeds even faster than typical wired USB MIDI connections. Realizing its wireless musical data transfer tech could be very useful for musicians and their current MIDI controllers, it decided to release a separate product while finishing up development on jamstik:
PUC is a small circular hub designed to allow MIDI keyboards, drum pads and grid controllers to make use of the Zivix Wi-Fi tech. Basically, anything with a traditional 5 pin MIDI out jack can use PUC to spit MIDI data wirelessly to both Mac and iOS using the free PUC app (or any platform that can handle a MIDI connection over Wi-Fi).
During my time with jamstik and PUC, I found the wireless MIDI transmission to be solid, despite my apprehensions. The note and bend tracking on the jamstik worked exactly as it was supposed to. As a guitar player, once I got used to the way the smaller bodied form factor felt in my lap (or over my shoulder), I found jamstik to be both a fun and quite useful new MIDI controller that I can easily see adding to my arsenal. Again, this is not designed to replace your Strat, nor is it the first guitar-to-MIDI option ever made, but rather a new kind of MIDI instrument attempting to open up creative possibilities for experienced musicians and those learning the craft.
With a strong focus on innovation and the demands of today’s virtual musicians, the now 14 member team at Zivix took jamstik from a successful Indiegogo campaign to the Apple Store in just over a year. Today, both PUC and jamstik are available on Apple.com and at more than 70 Apple retail locations (jamstik will appear on Apple.com any day now). So what’s next for the folks at Zivix? Well, a whole lot. The team assures us there are a number of new innovations and features coming down the pipeline, but unfortunately it is still a little too early for details.
The jamstik and PUC are both made in the USA and retail for $299.99 and $129.99 respectively. Currently all US orders will receive special free shipping and international orders (UK, Canada and Europe) can use code 9to5macrocks to knock $15 off shipping fees. You’ll find a number of demos and helpful How to videos available on the official jamstik YouTube channel for getting started.
This week, we’re teaming up with Zivix to give away one jamstik and two PUC MIDI hubs to our readers. The jamstik ships with the instrument itself, a USB cable, rechargeable battery, an adjustable strap, 2 guitar picks and access to the official jamstik iOS apps mentioned above ($299.99 value). Both PUC giveaways ship with 2 AA batteries and a MIDI cable ($129.99 value each). To enter, simply follow us on Twitter and retweet this article to your followers or like us on Facebook and share with your friends.
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