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ArduGuitar, an Arduino Controllable Guitar

The ArduGuitar

Electric guitars have several switches and potentiometers for controlling volume, tone, and which pickups are enabled. Rather than fiddling with these by hand, [Bob] built the ArduGuitar. It uses an Arduino to control the parameters over Bluetooth. This allows for musicians to configure presets, then recall them as needed, providing the exact same sound every time. It’s similar to the Guitarduino, but adds wireless control.

The internals of the ArduGuitar consist of the Arduino Micro, a BlueSMiRF from Sparkfun, and resistive opto-isolators. The resistive opto-isolators allow the Arduino to adjust resistance through an electrically isolated barrier. This prevents the Arduino from interfering with the guitar’s sound.

Some of the first Vactrols were used to create a tremolo effect in guitar amplifiers. These pulsed a incandescent lamp onto a photoresistor. Fortunately, there are now integrated solutions. PerkinElmer makes these, and they have a nice application note [PDF] on audio applications.

The final part of the design is an Android app, which provides remote control over Bluetooth. The source for everything is available on Github, and the detailed build log is available here.

Comments

  1. F says:

    Some would say that this article should be taken down because guitars can be used illegally to play copyrighted music.

  2. kristian says:

    I just want to be the first to say that this should have been called the Ar-guitar.

  3. Zee says:

    I don’t get it. This is just to hide all the buttons? I don’t think there’s any added functionality to the guitar

    • mjrippe says:

      The added functionality is the presets. For example, you can have the neck pickup selected with a tone setting with more treble and max volume for your solos, then switch instantly to the bridge pickup, darker tone, and lower volume for rhythm parts. Sort of like a Fender Jaguar but controlled by bluetooth.

  4. Nice tip about the resistive opto-isolators, let me to google digital potentiometers. I’d thought about using servos to control some potentiometers before but that’s a much better idea.

  5. Leo says:

    I think controlling presets from pedalboard, maybe with switching effects using relays at the same time, might be great addition to the project. Anyway, you play the guitar with both hands most of the time, that’s why guitar effects are foot-controlled most of the time.

  6. Bob says:

    Thanks for posting my project!

    In the coming version there will be lots of new functionality, so keep an eye on the homepage if you’re interested!

    Ciao,
    B

  7. SteveB says:

    How about putting the presets onto the arduino (sd shield ?) then have a bank of touch pads on the guitar’s strap arm to recall them.
    Also, what about soft pots (touch sense pots), would be nice to change values via a control surface, ie an indented semi-circle touch sense pot around an indent, put your thumb in the center indent and move your finger round for the desired position.

  8. ~M~ says:

    I’ve added a separate volume and tone on my guitar for each of the 3 pickups. And I’ve hot-rodded my pickups with an active pre-amp which adds a lot to the output of the sound.

    Presets for this many variables would be a very good thing. But controlling them from an app on a phone seems a bit counter-productive. I would go for a digitally controlled foor switch for the presets or even a couple of simple buttons on the guitar that would jump to presets.

    Nice job on this. Keep going …… and just ignore the bad comments.

    ~M~

  9. Bob says:

    For those interested, I’ve now added some automation functionality to be able to create on-board effects just using the volume, tone and pickup selectors, eg. tremolo is just going from high to low volume over and over. I also cleaned up most, if not all the parasitic noise that was getting into the audio!

    It works great!

    Thanks for your interest!

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