Gibson takes Les Paul classic into digital age

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The guitar that helped make famous the likes of Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin is about to join the 21st century. The makers of the Les Paul guitar are developing a new model which will link straight to a computer rather than need to be plugged into an amplifier.

Gibson's new range of "Magic" Les Paul guitars will have a digital output that will let guitarists control the volume and timbre of each string separately, and transform them to sound like any other instrument - an organ, a voice or even just a pure, untouched Les Paul guitar.

"We're improving the electric guitar for the first time in 70 years," said Henry Juszkiewicz, the chief executive of Gibson. "If we didn't build a digital guitar, I can assure you the digital guitar would still happen."

The new technology uses an ethernet cable, like that used to network computers together, to connect the guitar into a digital network. Gibson argues that means none of the quality is lost by transmitting the signal over a long distance - unlike normal analogue electric guitars, where long leads to amplifiers lose high frequencies.