A guitar in Second Life you can really dig …

Playing the Piaggio shovel guitar

Ape Piaggio is responsible for some of my favourite vehicle designs in SL (see A Little Bee that’s a real honey in Second Life and Of impulse purchases and power boats) and some rather fun stuff as well (see: Doing a “Little Nellie” and A Second Life Roadrunner). She’s now turned her attention to musical instruments – something that’s also bound to get my attention – and in a most unusual way: a shovel (or if you prefer, spade) guitar. And I have to say, it’s really good.

Now, a shovel guitar may sound a completely made-up thing, but actually, it is very much a real DIY thing available in the physical world (just do a check on eBay to see for yourself, or check the video at the ed of this review).

The idea comes from a video I saw on Internet, and since I liked the idea, I made it in SL, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do! The sales of this guitar will help me to get the real life version of the instrument, so thank you for supporting me 🙂

– Ape Piaggio on her shovel guitar

Delivered in a plain cardboard style box, the guitar has one of Ape’s signature unpacking animations – touch the box and it will open and the guitar will float up out of it to stand upright in front of you, before displaying asking you accept the guitar. Confirming this will place the guitar, its instructions and a gesture (which can be used to toggle the guitar’s menu via the gesture command “/sgmenu” or by tapping SHIFT-F1). And that’s just the start.

The Piaggio shovel guitar detailing: the blade (left and right) and grip with tuning mechanisms (centre) – click for full size

The guitar itself is beautifully detailed: the blade and collar are finished in that “brand new” spade matte black finish that use materials to give them that “brand spanking new” look. The blade itself forms the body for the guitar, complete with bridge and (being an electric guitar), pick-ups, control knobs and output jack socket. The handle and grip form – obviously enough – the neck and headstock for the guitar, the latter with tuning mechanisms for the three strings. When you wear / add the guitar the first time, it will be slung over your shoulder.

Playing can be triggered in three ways: by clicking on the shovel, or if you have the supplied gesture active, by either typing “/sgmenu” (no quotes around it) in local chat, or pressing SHIFT-F1. All three of these will open the guitar’s comprehensive menu – just click Draw / Sheath to move the guitar “play” position (or back to its “carry” position), and you’ll start playing.

A single song is supplied (individual parts of which can be looped, if required), but users can add their own. A guide to how to do this can be found in the supplied instructions note car. While one song might sound limiting, what is supplied is a wealth of animations – playing styles from a range of basic strumming options all the way through to some very fanciful options (flying anyone?) going by way of foot-stomping to spinning to head-banging and and even a hint of The Shadows! These reside with a number of static and sitting animations that offer users a lot of choices – and they can add their own if they wish; again instructions for doing so can be found in the supplied note card.

The playing animations are available from the menu > Animations > Stands, and have a couple of different options when using them.

  • If the guitar is UNmuted (via the main menu), selecting any of the guitar playing animations will automatically start that animation and leave you in the Stands menu.
  • If the guitar is MUTED (via the main menu), selecting any of the guitar playing animations will cause a further pop-up menu to display – select Play Now to start the animation.

The latter option allows live performers who use a guitar as their accompaniment to make use of the shovel guitar during their gigs if they wish, to add a little novelty to things. They can play the guitar muted in-world and, if they want, swap the playing animations to better suit the style of song they are singing, rather than always playing the same animation throughout a set, simply by toggling back and forth between the Stands menu and and the playing sub-menu.

Another handy option is Force Anim. This allows you to use the guitar while seated – say on a chair or stool, or when riding in a vehicle or even while riding your wearable Bento horse (a good reason for the guitar *not* being Bento, given non-Premium users can only wear one Bento attachment at a time), so you can mosey across the range, pausing when you like to sing to yer hoss! Admittedly, depending on the animations on the object you’re sitting on, Force Anim may work first time or may take a little bit of fiddling with to kick-in correctly – but it does generally work; I tried it on a number of chairs, stools and other bits around our home, as well as my Teegle and Water Horse horses.

The Force Anim option can be used to allow you to play the guitar when seated on objects (such as the stool on the left), or when riding in a vehicle – or even when astride your Bento horse (right)!

Two options I also found interesting are the sync and the sets options. The former offers a means to sync your guitar animations with those of a friend with the guitar so you’re playing together. Sets enable you to create a set of songs to be played sequentially – and you can create up to nine sets to the guitar.

All of this makes for a very versatile, as well as exceptionally novel, SL musical instrument – and I’ve not covered all of the menu options, with include options to help adjust the guitar’s position, reset it to its default state, etc. At L$450, the price isn’t excessive, and for those who fancy it, it is available on Ape’s SL Marketplace store and at her in-world store.

And, for those who still have doubts about how good a shovel guitar can sound with just three strings, check the video below!

With Thanks to Jodi for letting me use LiFT for the banner image to this article and recording the video clips.