Music Thing: Music and audio gear in Second Life

Each week Tom Whitwell of Music Thing highlights the best of the new music gear that's coming out, as well as noteworthy vintage equipment:

Now, I've never been inside Second Life, but -- inspired by Reuters, which set up a bureau inside the game, which now has over a million players -- I've spent some time trawling the shops for cool music gear. Dissapointingly, I've found no vintage synths, keytars or mountains of old studio gear. I did find a British virtual instrument-maker called Robbie Dingo, who mainly sells slightly ordinary guitars, drum kits, bagpipes, grand pianos and something called a Hyper Flute, which - disappointingly - is completely safe for work, but allows you to compose your own music within Second Life.

Robbie sells his instruments at SL Boutique - a steel drum set costs L$120 (40 cents in real money), while a Hyper Flute costs L$3,000 (around $10). Most Second Life instruments are really toys -- they'll play a couple of sound loops and animate with your avatar. Some are slightly more advanced: Robbie's 1965 Fender Stratocaster (L$400/$1.40) "loops a funky pattern that can be transposed via the menu system to any key whilst remaining in time." How many real-world guitarists can say the same?

Robbie's greatest claim to fame was creating the guitar used by folk singer Suzanne Vega when she played a gig in Second Life. As far as I can work out, the guitar in this case was just a prop -- she was playing a real guitar into a microphone, whch was beamed into the concert.
Other SL gear manufacturers include Neurocam Audio, who produce headphones and microphones, which really confused me. How does a microphone work? It "serves a purpose: It changes your chat to GREEN in the chat window, allowing the event host the ability to be noticed above noisy crowds!"

Finally, for just L$1 (1/3rd of a cent), you can buy a Cigar Box Guitar, just like the one featured in Make Magazine, which will play a short clip of cigar box guitar jamming. Virtual cigars not included.