It hardly seems possible that less than two months ago, I was in Germany visiting Ableton, Native Instruments, and Tronical—so much has happened since then. Dark Fire was launched on December 15, and shortly thereafter, the first Dark Fires made it out into the world. A few weeks later came NAMM, which basically takes over my life for a month. This time, though, there was a Dark Fire community meeting at NAMM, and while I had no idea how many people were going to come, I was definitely looking forward to it. I knew that at least Steve Conrad from the Dark Fire forum would be there, and having corresponded with him about Dark Fire, wanted to meet him in person—this guy has his act together. I’ll round up some photos of the party for the next blog post.
Of course, Dark Fire has now taken on a life of its own. There have been a few bumps along the way, because of various technical issues in the production process. Frankly, I wasn’t surprised; the Dark Fire project is ambitious not just because of the guitar, but because of the additional computer interface and software. As soon as you have so many elements, matters become more complex because they all have to work together.
It was interesting being “on the inside” during all this, as it was obvious from the various emails flying back and forth that the company was relentless about tracking down and exterminating any remaining bugs. I appreciated that customer satisfaction was constantly hammered on as the top priority; not all companies exhibit the same level of concern that I saw. As just one example, the names of the RIP outputs didn’t translate properly in Sonar, so out came another version of the driver that took that into account. Or, Tronical wasn’t happy with the flow of controlling the Chameleon Tone options, so they reworked how the control functioned. A way was implemented to update guitar firmware through the RIP itself, and to charge the battery when Dark Fire wasn’t being played. Some of these changes weren’t part of the original spec, but resulted from someone saying “Hey, you know what else we can do…”
To me, though, these are just fixes that inevitably happen when moving from a “version 1.0” to a “version 1.1” product. I’ve been playing Dark Fire a lot, and the more I play it, the more I’ve come to appreciate what it can do. In particular, the combination of Dark Fire’s hex outs, going into Ableton Live hosting six instances of Guitar Rig 3, is a revelation. So far I’ve been confined to doing this in the studio, but I’m itching to get this out onstage. People will be blown away…or at least, they will be after I explain I’m not using backing tracks!