I have spent much time in the past to hack guitars, adding robotic elements to them, messing with control interfaces and audio effects. But I allways did this in a non-destructive way, as I didn't wanted to do something to my babys I couldn't redo. One thing I always wanted to have, but never really achieved on this premise was an illuminated fretboard to display all kinds of information, like scales and sequencers. This problem is the main driver of the project and most of my thinking about building this guitar was how to do this.
As I'm not a carpenter but more an allround maker with typical maker tools like a 3d-printer and a cnc-router, the main challenge was to commit to a concept of build this guitar with those tools I have.
Before I start to decribe the build process in the project logs, here are some specs and design goals I have/had in mind when building the ElekroCaster. This list will evolve.
- Maker friendly construction (3d-printer, CNC-Router, Vslots)
- Modular construction and easy access to the electronics to make it a smooth prototyping platform
- Parametric OpenScad modelling (changable string count, scale, space between strings,...)
- playable like a normal electric guitar,
- Fully controllable RGB-Led-iluminated Fretboard
- Long scale (700mm) for low tunings
- Two micros, one for audio an one for everything else.
- Per string signal path
- hexaphonic pickup
- multichannel codec (6* adc, 8*dac)
- Teensy 3.6 microcontroller
Firstly, the ElektroCaster can be played like a normal (baritone-)guitar (which in itself I'm quite proud of). It's neck is admittedly kind of thick and I whish there would be thinner v-slots available (15x15 would be nice). But all in all, I do enjoy playing it.
Let's talk about what the ElektroCaster can do what others can't, by quickly sketch some applications. Some of them I allready have implemented and others that I'm sure I will be able to implement.
In the video below you can see me playing a sequencer projected to the fretboard, which is programmed by using the touch-sensing frets. It works not perfect yet, but I'm making good progress to improve on that. Notice that the strings are muted and do only sound when the string touches a fret and the sequencer hits an activated step. The strings are hit with the blue device next to the pickup which basically consists of 6 solenoids. I call it kickup. More about that in the so called project log.
This is a pretty rough demo an implementation, but I think it shows which possibillities are opend up by this combination of sensing led-frets, hexaphonic signal path with dsp and robotic elements like the kickup. Next step to improve the sequencer is to use envelopes to switch the strings on and off more smoothely.
some Ideas on this topic:
- learning a
- display the scale on the fretboard. Highlight important intervals like the third and fifth by different colors
- sens whether a
wrong note is played and give feedbacke, e.g by
- muting the string on which the note was played
- play a particular sound
- play one note and immediatly see all other notes of the same value on the fretboard to look for alternative ways to play something
- teach guitar
- connect two
ElektroCasters, one for the teacher and on for the student.
- Display notes the teacher plays on his guitar on the on fretboard of the student to help him find the next notes
- connect two ElektroCasters, one for the teacher and on for the student.
In the Video below you see me improvising along a b-major-scale. It's a bit hard to see, but there are different colors for different intervalls: The root is red, the third is green, the fifth blue and the seventh pink. The second, fourth and the sixth are darker and white. Although I know how to play a major scale over the entire fretboard, it's a really interesting experience - It feels releaving not think about the...Read more »