| ARP developed one Musitronics product, a
rack-mounted digital delay, after the transfer of ownership. Production of
Musitronics products shifted from Rosemont, New Jersey, to Lexington,
Massachusetts. Surprisingly, there were no significant changes in the products'
quality. ARP remained in business slightly more than a year after the transfer,
so there wasn't much time to make changes to the products' designs.
The former Musitronics company, now called Gizmo Inc., sunk all of its efforts
into the producing the Gizmotron for guitar and bass. Unfortunately, the
Gizmotron proved to be a formidable challenge for the talented engineers who
created the Bi-Phase and the Mu-Tron III. "The Gizmotron was so
neat," says Beigel. "We thought that we could make it, but it turned
out to be an R&D nightmare that basically ate up the company. It was too
difficult to make a good Gizmotron."
"The problem with the Gizmotron was that you could make one if you diddled
with it long enough, but you couldn't make them in production," adds
Newman. "It had these teeth that plucked the strings, but that created
problems with subharmonics. The thing had a pitch of it own. We eventually
hired Bob Moog, who we were very friendly with, in 1979 when his contract with
Norlin ran out. He tried to figure out how to get the Gizmotron to work. We'd
build them and ship them, then decide there was a problem and recall them and
ship them again. We had tons of orders. If the product would have really
worked, we could have made a fortune."
Despite the problems, the Gizmotron was used by a number of notable players,
including Todd Rundgren and Jimmy Page, who played one of the intro to "In
Besides the production problems with the Gizmotron, several fateful events sent
Gizmo Inc. into a tailspin. In February 1980, Aaron Newman suffered a massive
heart attack and was unable to work for the company. About six weeks later, the
number two person at the company was killed in a plane crash.
"At that point everything was scattered," says Newman. "Godley
and Creme wanted more royalties and everything fell apart. Nothing came of
Musitronics because ARP went bankrupt and none of us were left to pick up the
pieces after ARP folded. I was out of commission and no one else seemed to be
interested enough to put it back together."
After Gizmo Inc. shut down, Beigel collaborated with another Musitronics
engineer on the Beigel Soundlab Envelope Controlled Filter, which he calls
"a Mu-Tron II that died and went to heaven." He made only about 50 of
these rack-mountable devices, selling most of them to studio musicians.
A reissue of the Mu-Tron III was introduced a few years ago, but Beigel says
that this is an unauthorized product that wasn't approved by any of the
original Musitronics employees. Beigel has recently been working with
Electro-Harmonix on a product that he says was originally meant to be the
Mu-Tron IV, the successor to the Mu-Tron III. Called the Deluxe Dr. Q, this
product was introduced last July at the Summer NAMM show in Nashville.
"There were a few other Mu-Tron products that I designed that may finally
see the light of day," Beigel promises. That's exceptionally welcome news
for fans of high-quality, innovative pedal effects.
Chris Gill is Senior Editor of Guitar World and Executive Editor of Maximum
Guitar magazines. He is also the author of Guitar Legends-The Definitive Guide
to the World's Greatest Guitarists (Harper Collins). Questions and comments can
be sent to him in care of Vintage Guitar or via e-mail at: