A winner of both the Red Dot Product Design and iF Design Awards, the U-Lab 001 isn’t your average guitar. Sure, if you glanced at it, you’d recognize it as one, but the U-Lab 001 is far from the traditional Spanish-style guitar you’ve come to love. For starters, it has a hollow cutout, doesn’t have any strings, and folds in half on demand. The reason why the U-Lab 001 does all these things is because it’s designed not on the principle of acoustics or electromagnetics (in the case of an electric guitar), but rather on the framework of a smart electronic music device.
Designer: inDare Design Strategy Ltd. for Unknown Galaxy Ltd.
Designed for novices with little formal training in guitar-playing, the U-Lab 001 provides the perfect launchpad in strumming, chords, finger-picking, and all-around musical theory. For starters, it comes with an impressive folding design that allows it to occupy 1/3rd of its original space when closed down (made possible thanks to the absence of strings). Open it up, however, and the U-Lab 001 becomes a blank canvas for you to sonically paint on with your left and right hands. The right hand rests on two rocker switches that emulate the act of strumming all strings or picking on individual strings, while the fretboard under the left hand comes with a touch-sensitive light-up surface that teaches notes, chords, and overall music theory, along with a companion smartphone app.
The U-Lab 001, being an electronic device, also comes with a built-in speaker that plays back the audio, allowing you to listen in on your performance without needing an amp. A rotary knob above the speaker lets you control volume, and instead of tuning keys at the end of the fretboard, a single knob lets you change your guitar’s scale on command. Want to practice/jam solo? There’s even a headphone jack built into the U-Lab 001 for silent jamming!