Electronic Guitar Pick Tunes The Strings For You

The Stimmmopped is an electronic guitar tuner made to be used as a guitar pick. This uses two LEDs synchronized to blink at the exact frequency of the string you are tuning. Pluck the string with the corner of the PCB and then shine the light on the string you are tuning. As the vibrating string moves back and forth it will only pick up the spot of light when the frequency matches that of the blinking LED. Once in tune, both red lights will appear to be constantly illuminated and immobile on the string.

An Atmel ATmega8 is used to control the device, interfacing with two buttons and a seven-segment display to choose the pitch currently being tuned. Gibson has a robotic guitar that features an auto-tuning mode, but if you don’t want to shell that much this low cost and simple build is for you.

[Thanks Sören]

25 thoughts on “Electronic Guitar Pick Tunes The Strings For You

  1. Hey, I remember making one of these as a high school electronics project! I wonder if I still have it in a box somewhere. It had an array of dip-switches with carefully chosen resistor values instead of a microcontroller-driven 7-segment display, though. And you couldn’t strum with it.

  2. All you really need to keep tuned is the top string, which being the thickest almost never goes out of tune. The rest you just play the 5th fret and check if the string below is vibrating due to resonate frequencies, except for the second last where it’s the 4th fret. I find it much easier to tune with my eyes then my ears.

  3. For people new to the guitar there’s an even easier way of tuning, if you own a Mac that is.

    Apple’s Garage Band has a tuner, you just plug the amp into the Mac’s AUX jack. Apple packages some great guitar lessons in Garage Band too, pretty nice if you are just starting out learning.

  4. Pretty. Too bad there isn’t more info on the build process. I’d like to hear about any challenges they had getting the LED to strobe.

    As far as the utility, I had one of those keychain-strobe tuner-bottle opener things … it (this kind of strobe tuner) is much more useful as a demonstration of how guitars work than as a device to help you tune your guitar though.

    If you want to experience frustration, I recommend tuning a mandolin with a Peterson strobe tuner.


  5. @overstacked: More info? Both the source code, schematic and BOM is right on the site. Not sure what more information you could want? Getting the LEDs to strobe is just a matter of a few lines of code.

  6. @FrankO

    As I am a studio musician by profession, your wrong.
    Its like a woodworker who can cut a piece of wood without putting marks on it. The marks(tuner) help but they are not necessary and add an extra step which means time wasted, which means money wasted.

    Basically if your in a studio i think you should be able to tune near perfect by ear.

  7. @FrankO

    Most cheap tuners (in the $20 range) are not accurate enough and result in a disater when you need perfect pitch (metal distortion anyone ?). Maybe the stroboscope is a good way to have very high accuracy for a cheap price (I’d use a $0.50 low-end PIC plus a good crystal just to blink two LEDs).

    Integrating the tuner in a pick is a good idea anyway.

  8. @sneakypoo – yes, more info. I’m far more interested in the process than the results as far as most hacks go. Why, given the options available, did they choose this processor/battery/brand of LED? What are the tolerances? What obstacles did they overcome, what unexpected gotchas could save others loads of time?

    As I said, it’s pretty, but I am looking for more info as far as the hack is concerned.

  9. @Jeff Wallin perfect pitch can not be learned, its a genetic ability. but relative pitch can be learned. Relative pitch will never be as good as perfect pitch
    Also your wrong. You would never EVER tune by ear in the studio (unless your producer just really didnt care about the project)
    I really doubt you can tune a guitar or bass perfectly dead on. Especially not in an alternate tuning.
    Besides any studio (unless your just in a really crappy one) is going to have a really nice calibrated tuner ready to go.

  10. luvbster is absolutely correct. You can’t ‘learn’ perfect pitch and I wouldn’t let you tune a guitar by ear in the studio even if you did have perfect pitch.

    That said, I enjoy this hack. It will help me tune my guitar on the go! Thanks.

  11. What has always bothered me about tuning is the absurdly abstract notion of perfect pitch. Some one long ago just decided this frequency and that frequency are better than the rest. Of course we believe it too and most can hear out of tune pitch. All we have listened to are arrangements of these frequencies reused over and over.

    I’d love to see a piano tuner on here, as I have one that sees daily use.

    @Jeff Wallin Since I am better than you, you’re wrong. Come on over with your studio near perfect pitch ass and tune my piano.

  12. wow! i used to do something similar. pick the harmonics for two strings and feel the vibrations in the neck, when they were tuned together the vibration would be constant. its kind of fun to tune my bass without hearing it! though, i did have to get some audio feedback for the first string obviously.

  13. @bleh actually the tuning pitch has changed over the years Right now it is at A=440 Generally pitch has been raised. our A would then be considered G a few century’s ago.
    perfect pitch is not so much being able to almost be forced to know what notes are being played when played. Some people with it I met think of it as a pain and a blessing. To my knowledge no person has absolute 100% percect pitch. They could know it to a degree but directly down to the heartz
    also random but I know that it can be effected. My professor had it and he would say that days he had a headache he would hear things a half step off

  14. Why is everyone dissing the tuner?
    Its a project for any musician that may also want to beef up their electronics skills.

    I know i can tune a guitar by ear, but i don’t care, its not going to keep me from wanting to build this cool little project.

    Thanks Mike, I enjoyed the project

  15. I revised the PCB a bit to use a more commonly available 7Seg and used a standard 2xAA battery connector with the board being the same size as the battery holder and glued them together. Works great! Thanks for the project :)

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