Gearphoria Vol 3, No 1

What the heck is that?! Behind the scenes of the weirdly wonderful Gizmotron THE GIZMOTRON is a mechanical device invented by Kevin Godley and Lol Creme, members of the band 10cc, around 1973 that bowed the strings of a guitar using little wheels. They first used it on the song ‘Giz- mo My Way’, an instrumental that was the B-side of ‘The Wall Street Shuffle’, which appeared on their 1974 album Sheet Music. It was also used on the 10cc albums that followed and on early Godley and Creme albums, especially 1977‘s Consequences, which was kind of a demo record for the device. These days the Gizmotron is known for being responsible for the end of the great Musitronics effects com- pany after they tried to bring it into production. The plastic used for the wheels and a few other parts broke, behaved differently under different temperatures, which resulted in a lot of the sold products being returned. This part of the story is well known, at least amongst those who know about the Gizmotron, but here’s a little background information about the whole project. In 1976, Godley and Creme demon- strated the Gizmo (the original name of the prototype) to the full, nine-member board of directors of Musitronics. Creme had a lot of practice with the device so the board only heard the best sounds it could create. The demonstra- tion so impressed everyone that the board voted unanimously to take on the project. They would engineer, manufac- ture and produce the device. Since Musitronics only made elec- tronic devices, a mechanical engineer was hired to take the prototype, break it down and come up with a manufac- turing process. For about two months and despite numerous inquiries noth- ing was heard from him, but when Musitronics founder and project leader Mike Beigel visited him again, he was shown an “improved version” that worked completely different from the original prototype... and sounded like all six strings of the guitar were being attacked by an old hack-saw. 24 GEARPHORIA SEP/OCT 2014