The control fascia of any piece of new kit always involves a little ‘shock of the new’ and takes time to get used to. Usually, after a few days of orientation, everything settles in and any problems you thought you’d have in operation evaporate into thin air. The controls on the Emerald may seem complex at first, but if you can work your way through the average smartphone app, you shouldn’t encounter any difficulty. A. Humbucker selector B. Piezo/humbucker selector (off/both/solo) C. Humbuckers tone (pull to coil tap both) D. Humbuckers volume (pull for vintage/hot-rod selection) E. MIDI volume F. Piezo volume
piezo shone through, adding airiness and contour to the proceedings.
The control layout for the various sounds on offer takes a little getting used to (see Mission Control, on page 99), but after a few near misses, we found our feet and were blending sounds together with ease.
In order to assess the guitar’s pure electric characteristics, we used a Blackstar combo and gave the humbuckers a spin in a more rock environment. We’ve been impressed with Fishman’s Fluence pickups before and the same is true here. In vintage mode, the sounds are classic, but introduce a bit of fire under the bonnet and you’re into semi-solid territory, complete with bite and snap. Swapping over to the hod-rod setting and there’s even more sizzle to play with. The single-coil mode also gives some very usable sounds, especially with both neck and bridge engaged.
It was only after we’d packed our toys away that we realised we hadn’t encountered the beast that is feedback during our tests. True to say we weren’t playing at stadium levels, but we would have expected it to rear its head at least once.
It’s always going to be a challenge for anyone to assess a new instrument in such a short time. You’d need to spend a few weeks with the Virtuo in order to plumb its considerable depths. It’s largely unexplored territory, after all, and if you dial in the MIDI option that land is expanded further.
We’re still not entirely sure on which side of the acoustic/electric fence this guitar sits. It affects a compelling compromise between the two spheres of playing, for sure, but we feel an electric player might be more at home here than one whose mainstay is the acoustic. But if you’re willing to make the journey, the results could be very rewarding indeed.
Introduce a bit of fire under the bonnet and you’re into semi-solid territory, complete with bite and snap