Canadian Musician - January/February 2023 - Page 25

ROAD TEST

Donner HUSH-I Silent Guitar

By Manus Hopkins

I was definitely curious when I first heard about Donner ’ s HUSH-I silent guitar , in the sense that I wondered what it would bring to a silent practice routine that I didn ’ t already have . I ’ m no stranger to silent practice — I live in an apartment with roommates and neighbours I don ’ t want to constantly bother and will often play through headphones into an amp or interface . What the Donner HUSH-1 silent guitar does is eliminate the need for that middleman , so one can plug headphones directly into the guitar and have an even more convenient and portable silent set-up .

Upon first receiving the unit , I noticed how small the case was . It ’ s significantly more compact than another small travel guitar I own , but comes with everything you need — a strap , a pair of earbud headphones , three different sized picks , a polish cloth , Allen keys , and even some detachable hardware to make the small guitar more guitar-shaped , if that makes sense . I ’ m used to the additional equipment that comes in packages alongside instruments not being the best quality , so I expected to swap it out for my personal gear , but found myself quite liking the picks , and the strap is sturdy too . Though the earbud headphones did have clear sound-quality , I prefer the feel of over-ears , so I made the choice to use my own headphones .
What surprised me right away when I had finished inspecting everything and started to actually play was the simplicity of the setup . I thought I ’ d have to give the manual a thorough read before touching anything , but it really is just a plug in and play type of deal . After playing a while , and fiddling with the high , low , and volume dials , as well as the phase button right on the guitar , I popped off my headphones to see if this thing really was silent . It just sounds like an un-amped electric guitar , and as little as a closed door is enough to be able to play without disturbing a roommate or neighbour . One of my roommates even walked by while I was playing around in our living room and was amazed that such good sound could be housed in the guitar , instead of going through something else .
After deducing that the HUSH-I is exactly what it claims to be , I had to answer a few
bigger questions : what would I use this guitar for ? Would I tell someone else to buy one , and if so , why ?
I ’ m not usually one to go for smaller guitars for practice . I play primarily heavy music , and when I practice by myself or learn something , I ’ ll usually start on acoustic and then switch to electric ( with headphones in an amp if I ’ m at home ) once I ’ m warmed up or feeling alright about whatever I ’ m teaching myself . While I don ’ t personally see the HUSH-I usurping my routine , I should mention that if I was looking to take a guitar with me to practice on a trip or something , this would be it , especially because everything needed fits in the case , which basically takes up no room and could very easily be an airplane carry-on , and not even the annoying kind . A quiet way to practice in Airbnbs or hotel rooms , or even in public places without having to carry any extra gear would be pretty handy , and that ’ s a use for this guitar I could strongly recommend .
Something I found the HUSH-I surprisingly useful as was a songwriting guitar . Around the time I was working on this review , I had new tunes in my head and a strong creative itch and spent hours sitting on the couch figuring out parts and practicing vocalizing along with them using the HUSH-I , which I found helped in this process due to its crystal-clear audio — I could hear all the nuances of my playing , which is important in a silent rig , but also because without being plugged into an amp and worried about a cable getting tangled up and caught on things , I was able to pace around my apartment playing to myself much more comfortably . Of course , when coming up with new music , I like to record a segment and listen back while playing over it to come up with additional parts , so for this chunk of the process I switched over to some other equipment , but still , starting out with the HUSH-I was a lot of fun , very useful , and something I can say I ’ ll definitely be doing more of .
Though the guitar can plug into an amp to be played out loud , I didn ’ t find myself using this feature beyond testing it out . What really drew me in about the HUSH-I was the ability to
practice silently with a convenient setup and portability while still having goodquality audio , and I just didn ’ t feel much desire to play out loud instead . I suppose it ’ s a nice option to have for those that might want a portable setup that ’ s still simple enough , with a small guitar like this one and a mini amp , and it does sound quite good in that configuration as well . A redundant feature others might find useful for their own reasons is hardly a complaint though , and who knows , maybe I ’ ll find a reason I ’ d want to have it sometime in the future as I continue to work with this guitar .
All in all , the Donner HUSH-I is a simple little thing , but for what it is , it works perfectly . I ’ m not sure there are any features I wish it had that it doesn ’ t — after all , it ’ s just a little practice or travel guitar , and if I need to do something I can ’ t do with it , I ’ ll just use something else . For anyone in a living situation like mine wanting an easy and convenient silent practice setup , or those who want a way to keep up their chops while travelling , the Donner HUSH-I silent guitar should be a strong contender .
Manus Hopkins is the Assistant Editor of Canadian Musician .
CANADIAN MUSICIAN 25