The Ibanez RGKP6 is certainly not the first of it’s kind. Muse’s Matt Bellamy has been using a guitar with a built-in Kaoss Pad for years (the Manson MB-1). And you could get one of those too – for the low price of £3,624.00 ($5756.72) and what I’m sure is a substantial wait time.
Or, for $400, you could get the RGKP6.
The Korg Kaoss Pad is an effects processor with a touchpad interface that allows you to manipulate the effects in realtime while playing guitar. It requires 2 AA batteries that give you about 5 hours of playing time. The pad can be removed from the guitar and used independently or clicks back in easily. Having it integrated into a guitar allows you to add an electronic flavor to your rock and metal jams, channeling the likes of Trent Reznor or Ministry.
Ibanez are no dummies. They know that this guitar is kind of gimmicky, and that if they overpriced it they wouldn’t sell a one. But by making it affordable enough to make it worth having in your stable, they’ve served up the perfect holiday gift. And I would NOT be unhappy to see one of these puppies under my tree.
This guitar is so much fun that I had to be sure to try every single patch in case I was missing out on some wacky noise that would make me giggle. No, it’s not a versatile swiss army knife or a high-end tone monster, instead it does this one awesome thing in 100 different cool ways. The Kaoss Pad is the star of the show, and the guitar is kind of like the controller in the way a MIDI controller triggers sounds from a synth. It’s more accurate to say this is a Kaoss Pad with a built-in guitar. Sure – you can get all these effects in a multi-fx processor, or a series of stompboxes, but you can’t get anywhere near this kind of realtime control and integration.
The guitar has a single IBZ-KP mini humbucker in the bridge position, which you might think would be limiting, but really I felt freed to explore the sounds of the pad and not worry about the guitar’s tone, which would be lost in the effects anyway. Not to mention the pickup itself actually sounds pretty dang good. If you listen to the rhythm guitar in the demo you can hear that the pickup is more than substantial for heavy sounds and screaming leads. I kind of wished they’d put it a bit closer to the bridge for more crunch, but I think they made the right choice since it needs to cover rhythm and lead sounds in one spot.
There is a built-in distortion circuit in the guitar, something I always thought would be cool but never had the stones to try on any of my own axes. It has all the features of a distortion pedal – an on/off switch, a gain knob, and a tone knob, and once again I was impressed with the sound. The rhythm guitars in the demo are going into a clean amp tone on my AxeFx and the crunch is all coming straight from the guitar itself. A handy thing to have if you arrive at a jam only to find a Roland Jazz Chorus with no gain to speak of. I also found myself using it on the lead channel to bring out some of the effects of the Kaoss Pad just a little bit more as some responded very well to extreme high gain.
There’s 100 presets on the Kaoss Pad, and you better believe I tried every single one. Just about every patch could be a whole song in itself, and I gave each one 8 bars of glory. Some of them I wanted to go on way longer. Of course, the Kaoss Pad wasn’t designed specifically for the guitar, so some of the presets are nearly useless in this context – for instance, there’s a couple auto-pan presets that only work in stereo (and while there’s a stereo headphone out on the jack, I didn’t hook it up and likely neither will you).
Here’s me giving 8 bars to each of 100 patches on the Kaoss pad:
I found the Hold button to be a very powerful tool. It holds the effect on the last place you left your finger on the pad, which is handy for any effect you want to be on continuously. One of the few shortcomings I found with the pad is that the vocoders, which sound reeeeeaaaallly cool, are locked in the key of C, and I was unable to find anywhere in the manual or internet how to change that. I think that if they can find a way around that or if I’m just missing the option, it would make this infinitely more appealing because it would be instant dubstep guitar. I’d even settle for it being chromatic.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for a fun toy for yourself or a friend that could seriously help get you out of a creative rut or broaden the way you think about the guitar, or you really like bands like Mindless Self Indulgence and Nine Inch Nails, the RGKP6 might be right up your alley.
Here’s the official demo from Ibanez: