Musicians call intense practice woodshedding because that's where you'd traditionally take your ax if you wanted to rehearse out of earshot of audience and critics. With the advent of Yamaha's Silent Guitars, such a trip to a remote lumber pile is fine, but no longer necessary.
Imagine the barest outline of a guitar sending the sweetest sound into a pair of earphones wrapped around your head—and your head only. Imagine wailing away on an electric guitar in your apartment and the only one who can hear it is you—not your wife of failing patience, not your meddlesome neighbor, nor the noise-pollution officer from the co-op board. The new SLG100S ($899.95) is the steel-string version of Yahama's original Silent Guitar with nylon strings, and it makes it safe to practice raunchy licks anywhere, anytime.
Little more than a fret board with a pickup, the guitar gives new meaning to the term hollow-body—and looks exceedingly cool doing it. A mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard is outlined by a lightweight composite body (if you can call it that; it's not much more than the outer edge of the body). The guitar runs on a nine-volt battery or AC adaptor, so it can be played virtually anywhere. L.R. Baggs pickups send your pluckings to an internal computer, which simulates the natural reverb of acoustic spaces. If you want someone to play along with who won't mind your occasional gaffe, you can connect the sound system to external sources, such as a CD player or tape deck.
But what about when you get your act together and you don't mind other people listening? The Silent Guitar will plug into an amplifier for all the world to hear. It also breaks down for easy storage in the included gig bag. You know, so you can bring it to all those dates you'll be playing.