Hacking the Guitar: Student Crafts Digital Music Teacher
Driven by rock star dreams or simply a love of music, countless college students try to teach themselves to play the guitar. But only Andrew Garza of the University of Illinois, Chicago built a digital device designed to conduct the guitar lessons for him. By lacing a guitar's fret board with LEDs that signal exactly where to place one's fingers to play a cord, Garza managed to hack his way to righteous shredding.
Named the "GuitArduino" after the Arduino microcontroller that coordinates the LEDs, Garza's invention comes preprogrammed with all the major and minor cords on a guitar, as well as two different finger positions for each. Garza designed the GuitArduino as the final project in his engineering degree, but plans on expanding the interactive features of his gadget after graduation.
"I just thought of it one day, and that was it. I love guitar, and I love electronics, and I figured I might as well combine them," Garza told InnovationNewsDaily. "My dad plays guitar. I got interested when I was a little kid, and just picked up and just started playing it. With electronics, I think it came from 'Mythbusters.' I was always curious how they knew to do the things they did."
The GuitArduino distinguishes itself from other digital guitar teachers by functioning totally independently from a personal computer.
Users input the chords from the song they want to learn directly into the GuitArduino's digital interface. The gadget's onboard computer then causes the LEDs mounted under the fret board to cycle though the chords. This visual aid allows the user to concentrate on finger placement, learning the song as they follow along with the lights. To see the GuitArduino in action, check out the below video.
The GuitArduino currently lacks user-feedback interactivity, but Garza hopes to add pressure-sensitive feedback and adjustable speed to future versions.
"The only people I've shown it to are my roommates, and they got a kick out of it. I only finished it last week, and I'm excited to show it to more people at the [engineering student senior project] expo," Garza said.
"If the people at the expo could learn a chord before they get out of there, that would be great."
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