Gibson Min-Etune Robot Tuners

Why, oh why, is Gibson putting robot Min-Etuners on all their guitars?

If you read the corporate press you'd think it all comes down to innovation and meeting customer demands.

Nonsense. The robot tuner move is a $40M anti-theft measure akin to a dongle (unnecessary physical add-on designed to keep the money flowing in) and also a way to distinguish the real deal from those that are lacking the new features.

Robot tuners are a weapon against the flood of $300 "Chibsons" undercutting Gibson's sales. 

The move to robot tuners, like holograms on headstocks, has everything to do with staying one step ahead of counterfeiters flooding the US market with knockoff Gibsons.

Think of the Min-Etune system as akin to a dongle like you would find in the world of software used to prevent a program from circulating as as function crack.

You can make hardware dependent software, software dependent hardware, software dependent software, and, here, hardware dependent hardware.

Why did musicians and labels move back to vinyl? Because of the awesome sound quality? It's all about anti-piracy. Music dongle. Vinyl resurgence makes the dongle cool. 

The software dongle is the toll bridge between the world of physical necessity and virtual freedom. The robot tuner is, metaphorically, a physical lock on the gate that separates two different spatial domains: the Western affluent guitar consumer market and cheap copies produced in Asia (a.k.a., the "Chibson" Les Paul). 

Where a software dongle mediates between the physical and the virtual the robot tuner intervenes in the globalization model that separates Western consumption and Eastern production. 

Asian sweatshops can crank out a guitar that looks, plays, and sounds pretty much like a Gibson (at least to the casual observer) but robot tuners are another matter, at least for the time being. If Gibson can draw a line in the sand between guitars with and those without robot tuners, then it can also attempt to create what is called "moral devaluation" on all Gibson guitars (real or fake) lacking robot tuners. 

We saw Rolex do similarly with weird cosmetic changes to their timepieces. 

Any Western luxury item you care to think of has a cheap, Asian copy trying to pass for pennies on the dollar.

The robot tuner is an interesting development, looked at from a speculative standpoint: the 'Eastern Sublime' is all about complicated solutions to simple everyday tasks whereas the 'Western Sublime' is all about solutions to problems that will never occur (what to do in the event that you are attacked by a polar bear and a crocodile at the same time). With Gibson's Min-Etune we find an inversion: an ultra-complicated and unreliable solution to both a simple everyday task (tuning a guitar) and, simultaneously, a solution to what appears, on the surface anyways, a problem that doesn't even exist.

Gibson, like Donald Rumsfeld (there's things we don't know that we don't know), are pioneering new philosophical territory. Nashville: the Eastern-Western nexus. No wonder Gibson is so weird these days.