Horribly complicated electric guitar keyboard


Gutarist, hacker, and mustache enthusiast [David Neevel] brought together way too many pieces of hardware in order to use his electric guitar as a computer keyboard.

So let’s dig into the house of cards he built for the project. It starts off with the guitar which has been fitted with an additional pickup to interface with a Roland GR-33 synthesizer pedal. That outputs a MIDI signal, which many hackers would have connected to the computer and parsed with a simple script. But not [David], he connected it to an Arduino via an optisolator. Well that’s not too ridiculous, right? Don’t you think he’ll just parse the MIDI signals and push them to the computer via the Arduino’s USB port? Wrong! He translates the MIDI signals into combinations for a big relay board which is emulating the key matrix of an old USB keyboard. But as you can see in the demo video after the jump it works quite well.

If you’re more of the drumming sort there’s an electric drum set version of this hack too.

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Guitar EQ levels trigger the stage lights


Even if your band hasn’t made it big yet it’s still a lot of fun to put on a great show. This hack will help you add lighting effects to performances without having to shell out for a lighting technician. [Phil] put together a hack that lets you trigger the lights by setting a volume threshold with a pedal switch.

After reading about the hack that adds an EQ display for a pedal board he got the idea to convert the concept as control hardware instead of just for feedback. Just like the visualization project he uses an MSGEQ7 chip which takes care of the audio analysis. He’s using this for electric guitar so he only monitors three or four of the outputs using an Arduino. He built the hardware into a foot pedal by mounting a momentary push button on the lid of the enclosure. Stepping on the button causes the Arduino to save the the current audio level. Whenever it reaches that threshold again it will switch on a mains relay to drive an outlet. In this case a strobe light turns on when he starts to rock out, which explains the bizarre image above. You can get a better feel for the theatrics by watching the clip after the break.

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Guitar Hero controller built from toy guitar and keyboard


[Heinrich Laue] was kind of a latecomer to the fake guitar playing video game phenomenon. He played Frets on Fire — an open source clone of the game — on PC and eventually bought a copy of Guitar Hero World Tour. But playing on the keyboard was a drag. Instead of buying a controller he built his own hacked Guitar Hero controller from a scrapped keyboard and a toy guitar.

The plastic toy he started with was screwed together. This is a really nice since it’s almost impossible to open toys that have been welded together. There was plenty of room inside for all his components and even some space to run the wires.

He started the electronic portion of the build by tracing out the keyboard matrix to figure out which solder pads he could tap into. The strum bar uses a door hinge with buttons on either side of it. When you move it back and forth it hits the buttons, with the spring mechanism in each returning it back to center. The fret buttons are keys from the keyboard, but the switches uses were pulled from a few computer mice. But the real innovation comes into play when he added the Star Power tilt sensor and whammy bar. Follow the link above to find out how he did it.

Guitar foot controller uses DSP for audio effects


This a screenshot taken from [Pierre's] demonstration of an electric guitar effects pedal combined with DSP and Pure Data. He pulls this off by connecting the guitar directly to the computer, then feeds the computer’s audio output to the guitar amp.

The foot controls include a pedal and eight buttons, all monitored by an Arduino. Pure Data, a visual programming language, interprets the input coming from the Arduino over USB and alters the incoming audio using digital signal processing. [Pierre] manages the audio connection using the JACK Audio Connection Kit software package.

In the video after the break he’s using a laptop for most of the work, but he has also managed to pull this off with a Raspberry Pi. There’s no audio input on the RPi board, but he’s been using a USB sound card anyway. The other USB port connects the Arduino and he’s in business.

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Glockentar: A Guitar + Glockenspiel Mashup

This unique electronic instrument combines a chopped up guitar and a hacked apart glockenspiel with an Arduino. [Aaron]‘s Glockentar consists of guitar hardware and glockenspiel keys mounted to a wood body. Solenoids placed above the keys actuate metal rods to play a note.

Under the hood, an Arduino connects the pieces. The conductive pick closes a circuit, which is a digital input into the Arduino. This actuates the corresponding solenoid to play the glockenspiel key, and sends a character to a computer over serial.

On the computer, an openFrameworks based program creates lighting that is projected onto each string. MadMapper is used for projection mapping, which maps the openFrameworks output to each string. Video is passed between applications using the Syphon framework.

[Aaron] has provided a write up that goes into details, including the Arduino and openFrameworks source for the project. There’s also a video overview and demo of the Glockentar after the break.

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Steam-powered pickup winder

[Valve Child] has been building a few three-string cigar box guitars. Of course he’ll need a few pickups, but three-string guitar pickups aren’t exactly easy to come by. To solve this problem, he’s built a guitar pickup winder powered by a steam engine.

The pickup winder is powered by a Wilesco D20 model steam engine, connected to the actual winding mechanism via a rubber belt. To the right of the bobbin bracket is a mechanism built out of Meccano – Erector sets for us americans – that provides a mechanical counter for the number of wire turns and a wire traverse to keep each layer of wire somewhat even across the width of the bobbin.

Previously, we’ve seen [Valve Child]‘s really sweet sounding lap steel build from a log using a hand-wound pickup and a preamp tube as the bridge. It’s questionable if the guitar signal came from this lap steel via the pickup or the microphonic tube, but now [Valve Child] has a really, really good method of improving his pickup production abilities.

Video after the break.

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Log guitar uses tube as a bridge, actually is the blues

In the never ending quest to replicate the tone of depression-era blues records, [Valve Child] managed to build the most backwoods guitar ever seen.

The body of [Valve Child]‘s slide guitar was taken from the limb of a red gum tree felled during a wind storm. After taking a chainsaw, router, and sander to the guitar, [Valve] sealed it with linseed oil.

The real beauty of this build comes from the bridge and electronics: the pickup is made from six stacks of magnets encased in hot glue and wound with enamel wire. The bridge of the guitar is actually made from a 6GM8 dual triode. Not only does this provide the guitar with a wonderful brassy sound, the tube serves as a wonderful low-tech preamp when powered by a 6 volt battery.

The three strings on the guitar are tuned DAD, perfect for the likes of [Robert Johnson], or, for the younger kids, [Jack White]. Surprisingly, [Valve Child]‘s guitar actually sounds really good. as heard in the video demo after the break.

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