Since the “DuoLectar” concept was first patented in 1959, I have wanted to broaden the strings sounds for any stringed musical instrument. So, I developed such an innovation through my work on the next-generation of the DuoLectar, which later evolved into the Dave Bunker “Touch Guitar.”
It first had a felt mute placed at the distal end of the two necks. That’s basically all that could be done at the time. The upper neck was to be played by the right hand and simulate the piano’s treble range, and the lower neck was to be played with the left hand to simulate the lower bass register of a piano. Both necks would be tuned to standard guitar tuning: EADGBE for guitar, and EADG, with optional, added B and E strings on the lower bass neck. (Many other tunings have been tried, but standard guitar tuning has proved over many years to be the best.)
I certainly do not discount the value of typical, 6+bobbin-wrapped string pickups that have been our standard for the last 100 plus years. But my intent over decades of research, beginning in the mid-1950s, was to eventually make every string have its own controlled sound and character.
The DuoLectar was the first patented instrument to be played by tapping the strings. It was also the first stringed instrument that could be played on two simultaneous necks. It accelerated a need for the “Electronic Mute” design and other innovations to follow.
First Generation Electronic Mute
The first “Electronic Mute” was developed in 1985 by my then engineer and friend Chuck Bennett. This technology could not have been achieved in1959 when I filed for the first patent on the DuoLectar. Electronic technology had not progressed enough.
The “Electronic Mute” patent first claimed an electronically grounded neck that would react to the guitar string contacting the fret or multiple frets. For the first time, a computer-controlled note was free of overtones, vibrations, or unwanted noise. It allowed a guitar to produce the wanted note or notes at a computer regulated volume based upon the pressure of a finger touching the fret. This opened up a brand new world for guitar players. A player could now have unlimited volume, from “0” to infinity. Now the note was free of other unwanted sounds. There were no restrictions.
The first time I played it through a Roland midi controller, it even surprised me. The quickness of the note and all of the things you could now do were previously unattainable. At a NAMM show in Anaheim, California, while demonstrating it to an audience, the CEO of Roland Corporation, builder of the Roland midi controller, made the statement that it was the “ultimate in string detection methods.” He was right.0
Second Generation Mute Using the “Digitar” Board
A second generation “Electronic Mute” was started in 2017 by my friend and great engineer Richard Wilson. He took the design to the next step as a new age for modern guitars and basses was born. With Richard’s innovation, I now am beginning to incorporate his “Digitar” board into what may be the final product for my world-wide following of guitar players and artists.
When the newest Electronic Mute, using the “Digitar” board, is released to the public, it will store and control much of what is now captured from the Roland type midi controllers, with little or no mass of wiring and multiple pedals. Everything will be in one small Digitar pedalboard on the floor. This is an amazing development for the world of stringed instruments.