A CRT TV made into a guitar-like instrument
Inspired by the CRTelecaster made by

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This project is run by an Arduino connected to a CRT TV. The potentiometers on the neck control the notes played which are displayed on the TV and picked up by a coil pick.

A while back I saw a video of a guy playing a CRT like a guitar. I wanted to know more but the explanation on their website wasn't very detailed. So I sought to try and make and understand it myself.

What's happening is that the Arduino is sending pitches to the video port of the CRT. This creates the lines on the TV. For example, if you were to code an Arduino to play A4 (440Hz) and send that tone to the video port of a CRT then that should display about 7 white lines on the TV because each white line should be about 60hz (440 / 60 = 7.333... ). The strings on the neck are actually soft potentiometers. These potentiometers are used her as position sensors that track the placement of your finger. I coded them so that one is mapped to C4 to C5 and the other is mapped to E4 to E5.


The code so far. It's very bare bones so that you can make any changes, additions, or edits.

ino - 964.00 bytes - 07/26/2022 at 15:52



This is needed to be inside the folder with the code.

h - 1.99 kB - 07/19/2022 at 23:32


  • 1 × Arduino UNO or MEGA I used an Arduino UNO but a MEGA would be even better
  • 1 × CRT Television Preferably one that is small, Mine was 5 inches and I got it off etsy. Ebay is also a great place to look.
  • 2 × SoftPot Membrane Potentiometers I got the 200mm from These will be the strings
  • 1 × Video RCA Cord or Adapter You can cut one up and solder it or get an adapter that connects to jumper wires
  • 1 × Ukulele Neck You can also use guitar neck or just 3d print one

View all 8 components

  • Some more Details

    Adsurb08/07/2022 at 19:44 0 comments

    This is the CRT I used. I got it off Etsy, however the listing is sold out as of now.
    This is the base that I used. I used Velcro to attach it to the TV.
    • The CRT I'm using is an Action 5" Black and White TV Model - ACN-3518
    • The Base that everything sits on is from a robotics kit I got a while back it's a fairly common base you could probably find on amazon. I provided a picture as well. 

  • Just a few notes

    Adsurb07/26/2022 at 21:20 0 comments

    • When I first started this project I didn't have any knowledge on synths, or CRT's, so if you have a few suggestions they would be greatly appreciated
    • Everything is mostly held together with tape or really strong Velcro adhesive.
    • I found a case online to 3D print for the Arduino:
    • I plan to add more strings and to make the sound of the TV better in the future for now this is just a finished prototype

View all 2 project logs

  • 1

    So first thing I did was buy a CRT. You can get a small one off etsy or ebay, I got mine from etsy. Once you get it, plug up a composite video cord from your Arduino to the video port of your TV. You will need to use a 470 & 1k ohm resistor to do this

  • 2
    Sound and Video

    After, you should be able to code the Arduino to play tones that should generate lines on the TV. If this isn't the case then you should check your connections and check that your CRT is on AV. If your sound is on then you will be able to hear the tone.

  • 3
    Ribbons and Wires

    Now for the actual control of the tones. You will need the soft potentiometers (, guitar/ukulele neck, 10k ohm resistors, and wires for this step. I used 2 because my neck was too small to fit more. I would try and use 1 if you're just starting. I used a bunch of Velcro adhesive to keep everything in place and added a portable charger for the Arduino.

    Optional: You can also add a pressure sensor underneath the ribbon sensor and program it to act as a sort of modulation. You can pick one up here: (Force Sensitive Sensor) keep in mind this is a really long one (over 2 feet). For a shorter one (200mm):

View all 4 instructions

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Sahmuraii wrote 08/02/2023 at 00:23 point

Working on this project myself, and almost have it complete, however be warned that the link provided in step 3 is not the correct item you want. Instead, you want to get this instead:

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Adsurb wrote 08/10/2023 at 21:30 point

Sorry about that I will change it now. Thanks!

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boone wrote 06/25/2023 at 18:51 point

Can you release a full code download? im not the best at code and am using all the same hardware as you :)

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rob.ertsonldspj11 wrote 05/24/2023 at 04:24 point

A really good post, very thankful and hopeful that you will write many more posts like this one.

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p14gu3f3110w wrote 02/16/2023 at 15:57 point

A tutorial would be amazing in the future.

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rreddust wrote 08/22/2022 at 06:03 point

Hello, thanks for explain how to do it, thanks really, you think someday you can make a tutorial video on your channel? 

You are a genius

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Adsurb wrote 08/24/2022 at 05:10 point

Yeah I've thought about making a tutorial video I may make one in the future

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Kay Ward wrote 07/03/2022 at 11:25 point

Hey, just wondering how you're generating the video signal to drive the CRT? Just shoving a raw tone() out to the RCA jack, or are you using a library e.g. TVout to generate the sync signal as well?

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Adsurb wrote 07/08/2022 at 18:44 point

At first, I was using TVOut because it seemed like the best idea but it was easier to get the results I wanted by shoving a raw tone() out to the RCA jack. But you could probably control the sound better using TVOut.

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