Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby TomA » Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:17 pm

I had some water seep into my basement the other day so I had to do some cleaning up. While doing so, I found a little gizmo that I bought (and never used) called the Gizmotron. The thing must be nearly 30 years old. It fits over the bridge and has wheels that spin against the strings when a button is pressed - the idea is to get a bowed sound. An interesting idea but a bit awkward to use. I never installed it because I didn't want to drill the holes into my bass.

I found a shot on the internet of the image used on the packaging:
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Re: Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby harleyyy » Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:25 pm

It's not as disturbing on an Antigua finish. [smilie=grinning-smiley-044.gif]

I remember seeing the ads. I guess you'd need a bungie to keep it in the case. No way, no thanks, not for me.
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Re: Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby PeppermanL2K » Sun Aug 10, 2008 7:10 pm

That was a brainchild of Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, was it not? You can hear the guitar version all over early 10cc records.
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Re: Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby steveonbass » Sun Aug 10, 2008 8:56 pm

The Development of the Gizmotron is what actually bankrupted Musitronics.
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Re: Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby felig » Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:20 am

Back in the mid-80s there was a local shop that had one installed on a Fender (jazz or precision, I don't remember which) & it fascinated me. At the time I was experimenting with a Boss Slow Gear, & that was about all I felt that I needed for a bowed effect. As I recall, the body of the unit fit onto a bracket that was mounted on the bass, so it could be detached for transport. The whole thing seemed pretty "iffy" & somewhat flimsy. The little nylon wheels had ridges sort of like on a poker chip, didn't they? And I believe they were subject to wearing out pretty quickly & would have to be replaced. Try to find parts these days.
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Re: Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby PeppermanL2K » Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:31 am

Now, what would be cool is to find something that can cop that same sound using today's technology because it was a unique sound. I suppose a synth could, but has anyone here ever heard anything that can recapture that sound?
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Re: Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby felig » Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:02 am

PeppermanL2K wrote:Now, what would be cool is to find something that can cop that same sound using today's technology because it was a unique sound. I suppose a synth could, but has anyone here ever heard anything that can recapture that sound?

I never actually heard one in action, but as I said in my earlier post, the Boss Slow Gear or one of the newer clones (e.g. the Guyatone SV2 Slow Volume are pretty cool). I've got both an old original Slow Gear & the newer Slow Volume & IMO the Guyatone easily beats out the Boss & costs a hell of a lot less. A number of the bass multi-effects have a Slow Gear setting & probably could be tweaked to get a lot closer to the Gizmotron sound (whatever that was).

The effect is honestly not that useful in most applications because most bass lines aren't based around long sustained notes.
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Re: Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby PeppermanL2K » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:39 am

felig wrote:The effect is honestly not that useful in most applications because most bass lines aren't based around long sustained notes.


That's true. It would work best for guitar, I believe.
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Re: Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby Andy Walhor » Thu Aug 14, 2008 10:47 am

PeppermanL2K wrote:Now, what would be cool is to find something that can cop that same sound using today's technology because it was a unique sound. I suppose a synth could, but has anyone here ever heard anything that can recapture that sound?


I’m not really familiar with either device, but the EBow (http://www.ebow.com/) is apparently intended to have the same effect.
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Re: Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby felig » Fri Aug 15, 2008 7:56 am

Andy Walhor wrote:I’m not really familiar with either device, but the EBow [/url]) is apparently intended to have the same effect.


Maybe, but I've never had any success with using an EBow on bass. Even the G string has too much mass to get the strings vibrating with an EBow.
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Re: Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby Sloom » Thu May 07, 2009 9:28 pm

My dad sent me a Gizmotron when I first started playing bass. I thought it was interesting, but realized pretty quickly that it was going to be an awkward proposition to actually find a flow with it.

I remember playing a party and having the jig fastened on with heavy double-sided tape. The bassist in the band after us had a problem with his axe and needed to borrow mine. He was having a terrible time trying to get around the Gizmotron's bracket that was stuck on the bass, so I finally ran up to him and with a great deal of effort got the thing off the bass. My bandmates later chided me good-naturedly for helping the kid out! They were kind of a rival band. Kids...
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Re: Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby aussiemark » Thu May 07, 2009 10:15 pm

The Gizmo can also be heard on:

The Church's "Violet Town" where it is played by Marty Willson-Piper.
The Siouxsie and the Banshees' song "Into the Light", played by John McGeoch.
This Mortal Coil's recording "It'll End in Tears" (4AD), where it was played by Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins.
Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door (1979) .


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Re: Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby 57RIP » Wed May 13, 2009 9:09 am

If I wanted that sound on a bass - I'd be kicking a set of Roland PK-5's ... and using it to trigger some bowed samples.
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Re: Anyone remember the Gizmotron?

Postby bbernard » Wed Jul 08, 2009 3:03 pm

I worked at a music store around 1980/81 (Spitzers in Hayward). There was a bass with a gizmotron installed so I had plenty of time to experiment with it. The spinning discs were attached to arms that you were able to bend slightly into the strings. It did give a decent imitation of a bowed bass. After a while I was able to use it with a bit more dexterity. Rather than just long notes, I was able to use it as you would a bow and imitate bowed bass solos. Even cooler you could try to capture the feel of eastern instruments or even something like a bagpipe.

Having said all that, it was really to finicky to ever use on a gig. Maybe in a studio setting or just as a curiousity.

felig wrote:Back in the mid-80s there was a local shop that had one installed on a Fender (jazz or precision, I don't remember which) & it fascinated me. At the time I was experimenting with a Boss Slow Gear, & that was about all I felt that I needed for a bowed effect. As I recall, the body of the unit fit onto a bracket that was mounted on the bass, so it could be detached for transport. The whole thing seemed pretty "iffy" & somewhat flimsy. The little nylon wheels had ridges sort of like on a poker chip, didn't they? And I believe they were subject to wearing out pretty quickly & would have to be replaced. Try to find parts these days.
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