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Virtuo Hybrid Guitar

Is the Emerald Virtuo the Ultimate Hybrid Guitar?

Acoustic or Electric? Now you can have both

As we approach another milestone in the Emerald Guitars story – namely, the design and release of our 10,000th instrument – we look to the past, present and future of Emerald and the standout designs from over the years.

The Virtuo was developed by combining the best elements of a fully electric guitar and an acoustic guitar, to create the ultimate hybrid guitar. 

A culmination of over 20 years of guitar design, the Virtuo was designed as the ultimate tool for both the stage and studio, covering almost every sound required. 

Emerald had previously ventured into the hybrid world with the ever-popular X10 range. 

These full-size and slim-bodied crossover guitars have been an Emerald staple since their introduction. Designed with the electric player in mind, the X10’s versatility serves as the ultimate instrument for those performing live or simply seeking a guitar with a wide range of sonic possibilities. 

The X10 range has been a favorite of performers worldwide, featuring a full size or slim body, paired with a selection of acoustic pickups, Krivo mini acoustic humbucker and even MIDI capability.

With the Virtuo however, we took a whole new approach to adaptability, playability and the sonic possibilities.

virtuo guitar carbon fiber

Inspiration

With the world in the midst of lockdown in 2020, our favorite artists were denied playing to live audiences, and instead took to performing live streams and home concerts online.

Like many, Alistair Hay, founder, CEO and designer of Emerald Guitars, got creative with his time as the world came to a halt.

He focused on designing new models for the Emerald range, all the while being inspired by what was happening around the world. 

Acoustic Body, Electric Soul

The Virtuo was inspired by what Alistair saw in live streams during lockdown.

Online shows by local artists such as Johnny Gallagher, Mark Black and Davy K – all friends and collaborators of Emerald – were proving hugely successful.

But Alistair noticed that each performer had to switch between a range of instruments to deliver the sounds they needed for a single show. 

The seed was planted. Could he create a single instrument incorporating the full range of tones from an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar?

With both single coil and humbucker pickups? And perhaps give the option for even more sonic exploration… 

Design

With the inspiration for the Virtuo coming from these great guitarists in action on their various instruments, Alistair began developing a design that combined the best aspects of both acoustic and electric guitars. 

His depth of experience in designing acoustic instruments and bringing carbon fiber to life, laid the foundation for the Virtuo’s path…

He designed the slimline carbon fiber hollow body for next-level ergonomic comfort.

Its carefully sculpted contours ensured the instrument conformed to the player’s body.

And with a neck offering effortless access to the entire fingerboard, the Virtuo epitomized endless hours of comfortable playing.

The signature Emerald soundhole on the upper horn of the guitar is an integral part of our acoustic designs; it projects the instrument’s acoustic sound up to the player and not just out to the audience.

It is an intrinsic part of the unique sound experience as it offers a better experience when playing unplugged or live. 

With a traditional guitar, most of the sound coming from the front of the guitar is lost to the performer when playing acoustically.

Emerald’s unique soundhole placement ensures the performer gets an utterly immersive playing experience. 

The resonance offered from our unique carbon fiber construction techniques offer a guitar that resonates incredibly well as an acoustic but also offers a whole host of other sonic opportunities when plugged in.

Pickups

Pickups carbon fiber guitar

Warm, Classic Acoustic Tones

To capture the best acoustic sound for plugging in, we chose the Graph Tech Ghost piezo system. This consists of six individual adjustable saddles.

Familiar to anyone who has owned an ‘S’ or ‘T’ style guitar, this classic design has a built-in piezo pickup in each saddle.

Each piezo pickup delivers a warm, classic acoustic tone; a tone that also works beautifully when supplemented with the other pickups and MIDI, opening up endless tonal possibilities..

Electric – Tonal Options to Meet Every Style

Untold care is taken when choosing a specific set of pickup systems in each of our instruments.

We source our pickup systems from manufacturers worldwide, big and small, to best complement the unique sounds of each guitar.

The Virtuo required a next-level set of pickups to fully realize its sound potential. 

The Emerald team painstakingly tested a range of options before choosing the Fluence humbucker pickups from Fishman.

With these revolutionary pickups, Fishman has redesigned the electric guitar pickup from the ground up. 

Their groundbreaking technology delivers tonal options to meet every style.

Each of the individual pickups contains three specific voices; classic, modern, and single-coil. 

 

Vintage PAF: Classic humbucker tones recall the golden era ‘Patent Applied For’ models from the late 1950s. It’s perfect for creating the tones of your classic guitar heroes’ vintage electrics. 

 

Modern Humbucker: The modern humbucker tone offers a ‘hotrod’ sound on the bridge pickup, perfect for higher gain settings and cutting through the mix. On the neck pickup this setting delivers a “Fluence-exclusive neck tone, with unreal highs, vocal mid-range, and tight lows.”

Single-coil: The neck pickup delivers the sweetness and warmth of classic single coils.

In the bridge, it gives the bite and snap of a vintage, slightly-overwound bridge single coil. The Virtuo now allows to to capture the sounds of your favorite ‘S’ and ‘T’ style single-coil-equipped guitars without switching instruments or sacrificing the benefits of humbuckers. 

MIDI - Access Endless Sounds

The Graph Tech Ghost piezo system’s individual saddles and piezo pickups allow you to access the Virtuo’s MIDI capability through a 13-pin MIDI connection.

You have an almost-endless array of sounds with compatible MIDI units such as the Roland GR55 or the Boss SY-1000.

With their unique COSM modeling, a host of classic guitar tones are on offer, not to mention the incredible non-guitar sounds available from the synth unit. 

From Studio to Stage

The Virtuo’s unparalleled range of sounds is made for studio and stage.

The combination of pickups and the ease of switching between sounds make it the ultimate do-it-all guitar. 

Designed – as always – with the player in mind, the Virtuo’s wealth of sound choices are accessed by a classic setup of four rotary pots (doubling up as push-pulls to access more features) and two pickup selector switches, with everything you need on hand. 

Whether you’re in a home studio or a commercial recording studio, having a range of quality tones to hand is paramount for any guitarist.

This usually means bringing a range of guitars; and so, more hassle and more cost.

It’s an extra cost to acquire additional instruments for new sounds, maintaining those instruments, changing strings on multiple guitars, fret dressings or replacements, and pro-setups… it all adds up over the years.  

But your Virtuo will back you up anywhere, without the maintenance setbacks faced by other guitars.

That’s because Emerald’s unique one-piece carbon fiber construction offers incredible strength and stability.

Added to that is an Emerald Guitar’s ease of adjustability, pro-setup straight from the workshop, and high quality extras – such as stainless steel frets – as standard. 

So, is the Virtuo an Acoustic or Electric guitar?

Virtuo cabon fiber guitar

At its core, the Virtuo is a slim-bodied acoustic instrument.

And so it delivers beautiful acoustic tones without plugging in, or it supplements the plugged-in tones available. 

But the Virtuo can be used with either acoustic or electric strings. 

Most players tend to use electric strings on the Virtuo – to achieve the more electric sounds – but if you are using it primarily as an acoustic, you’ll achieve a fuller, richer acoustic sound by using acoustic strings. 

Regular acoustic strings can be used on the Virtuo but for the very best performance we install Newtone Double Wound strings.

They have an extra winding with a magnetically active alloy, which gives a better response from the wound string when using the magnetic pickups

 

The adjustable bridge is also hugely beneficial here to adjust the intonation points when switching between string types. 

 

Endless Plugged-in Possibilities

The range of tones available from the pickup selection onboard the Virtuo is huge.

Effectively, you get three guitars in one, based on the sounds available from the Fishman Fluence pickup set alone.

You can cover the breadth of classic rock, blues, country, funk, jazz and metal with these pickups. 

What’s more, you can also use the MIDI capability to deliver a range of sounds from the synth unit to add to any existing guitar rig you have.

Now you can effortlessly access a vast range of classic tones. 

 

Need the sound of a nylon string acoustic? What about a 12-string? Want classic rock tones but don’t have the right amp? All these sounds can be delivered – and mind-bendingly more – through external Roland or Boss synth units. 

 

Want to add in some keys, strings or synths? These sounds are usually only accessible through a MIDI keyboard controller.

Now, the Virtuo’s MIDI capabilities give you an all-access pass to a whole new realm of instruments. 

And it doesn’t stop there: You can send your MIDI data to your DAW or arranging software.

You can arrange and share your music. Send MIDI files. Access any MIDI-controllable synths and samplers online. 

 

The Virtuo opens up a whole new world of possibilities, allowing the guitarist to take center-stage on any recording or live performance. 

Live Looping

One of the main inspirations for the Virtuo was watching the brilliant live stream performances of Emerald team member Davy K. An accomplished guitarist, singer and songwriter, Davy is equally comfortable with his band The Davy K Project’ as he is performing solo.

His band couldn’t join him for his lockdown live streams, so Davy put on a series of remarkable solo performances.

To build the sound of the band around him, he used live looping to great effect.

And so, the Virtuo’s versatile sounds now allows the performer to lay down an acoustic rhythm track via the onboard piezo, bass guitar sounds via MIDI, soaring lead tones from the electric pickups – and all the while without having to switch instruments. 

Perhaps fuelled by lockdown restrictions, today, solo artists are using live looping more and more.

The Virtuo single-handedly supercharges this style of performing with its unparalleled access to a new world of sounds. 

 

The Virtuo is designed to be the only guitar you’ll need.

Whether you’re jamming unplugged at home, recording, arranging or performing, the Virtuo will inspire the soundtrack to your life. And your playing.

Virtuo hybrid guitar

Touring

When touring with any instrument, the risk of mishandling or damage in transit is ever-present.

The strength and stability offered in our unique one-piece carbon fiber construction ensures resistance to damage from the off. 

Emerald Guitars stay in tune regardless of temperature, air pressure and humidity. So adjusting or maintenance when traveling is a thing of the past.

And then there’s our deep-rooted tuning stability; pick up your guitar after long periods in the case, and it’ll play perfectly in tune, first time, every time. 

That Question Again… Is the Virtuo the Ultimate Hybrid Guitar?

The Virtuo combines a wealth of tonal possibilities to the player, backed by Emerald’s forward-thinking design. It incorporates Alistair Hay’s wealth of experience and knowledge in more than 25 years of instrument design. And of course, there’s Emerald’s trademark strength and stability.

All of this combines to create what is undoubtedly the ultimate hybrid guitar. 

 

Discover where the Virtuo takes you…

 

Emerald guitars, to make and inspire music. 

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