At NAMM earlier this year, Jamstik showcased a revolutionary product that will surely rock the music production world. Known for their portable MIDI controllers and guitar trainers, Jamstik unveiled a new MIDI controller that also happened to be a real guitar. It was basically the dream so many producers have had for ages. While it certainly looks awesome, the real question is whether its functionality is as good as it looks.
WHAT IS IT?
The Jamstik Studio is a hybrid of both a full-fledged guitar and an MPE MIDI controller. For those of you unfamiliar with MPE, it stands for MIDI Polyphonic Expression, which essentially allows you to really play a MIDI controller like an actual instrument. Think Roli Seaboard or Sensel Morph. As for the Jamstik Studio, as mentioned it's both a controller and actual guitar.
As an electric guitar, it's a 3/4 size headless design with two humbuckers, a coil tap switch, a three-way switch, and standard 1/4'' out. The true groundbreaking features come on the MIDI side. The MIDI signal is tracked by a precision mounted hex pickup and processed onboard via algorithmic pitch analysis resulting in a near-real-time MIDI conversion. MIDI out options includes USB C, 3.5mm TRS & Bluetooth. As of now, it comes in matte black and matte blue, with a new matte white on pre-order.
I've been a guitar player for most of my life, starting from the age of 12. When I first started making music, I was terrible at the piano, and I always dreamed of a way to play VSTs, in the same way, that I played guitar. At the time, there was nothing even close to that, at least not in an accessible price range. Fortunately, much has changed in the past 10 years. Ironically, I stopped playing guitar for a long time, which is perfect as now that the one thing I wanted when I first started is now in my possession and my skills are trash compared to what they were at the time. That being said, muscle memory is your friend!
When I first saw the Jamstik Studio at NAMM, I nearly shed a tear. It was exactly what I had envisioned. And to see it controlling Xfer Serum with absolute ease only added to my near emotional outburst. Fast-forward to now, and after using it often, I can say that, it is, in fact, the real deal. It did take a bit of getting used to the size and bridge coming from my LTD EC-1000, but it didn't take long. Strangely enough, I actually prefer it to be this size instead of full-size. I can't articulate why that is, but it just feels right. It's amazing how Jamstik has managed to nail the MIDI pickup. The accuracy is spot on.
As for the Jamstik Creator software, if you're familiar with Equator from Roli, it's actually quite similar, although geared toward the Jamstik, obviously. It features a mix of samples and synthesis, and the sound design is excellent. The software itself isn't particularly deep, but it does the job well enough. If you're looking for more in-depth VSTs, well, there are plenty of those out there that are MPE enabled, allowing you to get the most out of your Jamstik Studio and software.
Now, I'll be completely honest. I can't say I would use this as a real guitar. Not that it doesn't do a good job of that, which it does, but since I have a full-sized one, that's my go-to. That being said, I would, and will, most certainly use this on stage...if that ever happens again... I also prefer having a headstock, as it's easier to quickly tune and helps maintain a balanced feel. I have to hand it to Jamstik though. The way they handling the tuning situation is great and easy to use. It uses a little magnetic wrench that inserts into the tuners on the bridge. Another cool little feature is the pick tray that sits inside the top of the neck.
On another personal note, I'm not sure what pickups they've used, or if they're replaceable, but if so, that might be a way to take the Jamstik Studio to the next level, thus possibly making it a go-to choice over a regular guitar.
I'm going to keep this short. As I have said already, I have to give serious props and praise to Jamstik. They totally nailed the Jamstik Studio, striking a perfect balance between a MIDI controller and a real instrument. It plays exactly like you would hope it would, and there is no noticeable lag when used as a MIDI controller. And to think that this is just the beginning of the Jamstik Studio's life is extremely exciting, and makes you wonder what the next generation will be like. Absolute essential kit.
$799 (includes Jamstik Creator)