No Pedal To Play Metal: Israeli Startup Rocks Music World With Wireless Sound Effects Touchpad
“Are you ready to rock?” Electric guitarists have been shouting that out to excited concert crowds for decades. The call is usually followed by mind-bending solos enhanced by cool sound effects produced by effects pedals. Using cables, most musicians connect their guitars to several pedals, which they step on throughout their performance to get their desired effects.
Seeking to free guitar rockers from their pedals, Israeli startup GTC Sound Innovations has created the RevPad, an innovative wireless sound effects controller designed as a compact touchpad that attaches easily to any amplified instrument.
Shaking up the music world, the wireless touchpad, which can be affixed to any guitar, allows guitarists to select the desired effect using their fingertips, while roaming freely on stage with no strings (or wires) attached – literally.
“Why do I need to step on the pedal?”
Daniel Shavit, the CTO of GTC Sound Innovations, has been playing the guitar since 2004. “I bought an electric guitar and the teacher showed me all the effects pedals,” Shavit tells NoCamels. “And I thought, ‘Why do I need to step on the pedal with my foot?’”
That’s when he first conceived of the idea for a wireless touchpad that allows guitarists to choose sound effects with their hands while roaming freely on stage. The result, the RevPad, allows guitarists to transition seamlessly between sound effects in real-time without the need for bulky pedals and cumbersome cables.
Making its mark in music
“To our advantage, some aspects of the music world are frozen in the past,” Oded Elboim, co-owner of GTC, admits to NoCamels. “If you look at the world of guitar effects, maybe the sound has been improved, but musicians are still using old-concept pedals.”
According to Elboim, the RevPad was well received by world-famous guitarists like Steve Vai, Vernon Reid, Phil X and Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, who was the lead guitarist for Guns N’ Roses from 2006 until 2014.
“The RevPad is pioneering the new wave of technology in guitar FX (sound effects) and controllers,” Thal tells NoCamels. Elboim claims that the RevPad is also suitable for bass guitars, and that famous bass player Billy Sheehan was impressed with the product.
The concept of a pedal-less sound controller is not completely new, but existing wireless products need to be connected to sound effects software installed on computers. In contrast, the RevPad touchpad communicates with the RevPad base unit loaded with at least 30 categories of sound effects with numerous parameters, providing a large array of combinations. In contrast, most pedals offer just one sound effect.
On the RevPad, musicians can program several effects on each axis of the touchpad. For example, a finger-swipe on the X axis gradually adds distortion and tremolo, and a swipe on the Y axis adds delay and chorus. Even tapping on the pad can produce different effects, like the wah-wah effect popularized by Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s. By placing the RevPad below the strings, guitarists can swipe and tap the touchpad in coordination with their playing. This new device, as opposed to pedals, allows free movement on the stage.
“Bringing new music to the world”
The company sees its product as a game changer, similar to how the synthesizer revolutionized pop music, and the sampler machine brought forth Electronic Dance Music (EDM). “Music evolves with technology,” Shavit explains. “You can now do a lot of EDM motives in rock music. You can combine them together and bring new music to the world.”
GTC, an eight-employee startup, received $450,000 in funding from Israel’s Chief Scientist, and has raised about $1.5 million from private investors. The RevPad is currently priced at $1,399, and will be available in the US, Europe and Israel next month. The team predicts that it will begin sales in Japan in March 2017.
The device can do the work of many pedals simultaneously, and that’s why it’s about 10 times more expensive than a standard effects pedal.
Not for everyone
The RevPad generated much hype at music conventions like the 2015 and 2016 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Shows in California, as well as Musikmesse 2016 in Frankfurt.
However, the company has also seen its share of naysayers, who are averse to parting with their pedals. But although the RevPad can completely replace pedals, it has also been designed to integrate with existing pedals, so that musicians need not discard the familiar for the the latest innovation. “The RevPad is an aid,” Elboim says. “If you’re a conservative guitar player who thinks that the pedal is the best thing since sliced bread, by all means!”
Keep on rocking
What’s next for for the company? Besides preparing for the next NAMM Show in January 2017, the team is exploring new possibilities through collaborating with a Swiss electric violinist who wants to experiment with the RevPad. The team is also working on an upgraded version of the RevPad, as well as new pioneering wireless products that would enable the company to “keep on rocking”.
Photos and video: Courtesy