Far from a gimmick for shredders, multi-effect nuts, or Muse fans, a “Kaoss Pad axe” is one of the most fertile new fields for sonic exploration.

The Korg Mini Kaoss Pad 2S-outfitted RGKP6 may spur a movement of the masses. Ibanez didn’t invent the idea, but they’ve got the first production model—and it’s crazy affordable. What’s the big deal? Well, hands are way more dexterous than feet, so manipulating parameters for 100 effects via the Kaoss touchpad facilitates possibilities that pedals can’t match—though you do have to adjust your playing technique.

The lone humbucker is surprisingly versatile, but hopefully Ibanez will soon offer more diverse aesthetic and pickup options. The Pad is simple to use—even technophobes will make cool sounds from the get-go, sans menu diving. Some of my favorites: pitch-shifting high-pass filter, lo-fi “decimator,” low-pass-filter slicer, maniacally mechanical “grain shifter” sounds, and pulse vocoder effects.

Some tips: Mixing Kaoss action with effects from your pedalboard makes the RGKP6 sound like you, not a weird digital toy. Also, don’t just swipe or scribble—tapping in different touchpad quadrants yields ZVEX Seek-Wah-like sounds—only cooler, because you’re dictating the rhythms. Or plant your fingertip and slowly change pressure from one side to the other to produce subtle undulations. Mayhem is only half the fun!

TEST GEAR: Jaguar HC50, Goodsell Valpreaux 21, Mooer Lo-Fi Machine and Trelicopter, Keeley Compressor, Pigtronix Fat Drive, Ibanez ES-2 Echo Shifter, Catalinbread Topanga

Ratings

Pros:
Affordable way to explore an expressive new form factor. Simple Kaoss Pad interface makes it easy to select and manipulate sounds that range from subtle to crazy. Useful distortion circuit with tone and gain controls.

Cons:
Spartan build, shredder aesthetics, and single-pickup setup limit appeal. Minor quality-control issues.

Street:
$399 Company
ibanez.com

Tones:

Playability:

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Value:

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