Robotic Player Guitar Rocks Out On Its Own

Back in 1988 [Ben Reardon] walked through the Japanese pavilion at the World Expo held in Brisbane, Australia. He saw a robot playing a classical guitar, and was in awe. Later in his life, he decided to learn guitar, and always thought back to that robot. After going to SIGGRAPH 2014 and being inspired by all the creative makers out there, he realized the technology was here — to build his own Robot Guitar.

He started small though — with a prototype robotic Tambourine. It helped flush out some of the ideas for coding that he would eventually employ on the Robot Guitar. The guitar features both an Arduino and a Raspberry Pi, along with six RC servos — one for each string. The biggest challenge with the project was getting the servos mounted just right — stiff, but with adjustment so each pick could be tuned for identical timing. He ended up using aluminum extrusion to mount the servos, three per side in order to leave space for the picks.

Once the mechanical portion was done — onto the coding…

In the end, it ended up being only 460 lines of code. Python and a bit of Bash for the Raspberry Pi — and of course a few sketches for the Arduino. But enough talking about it — let’s hear it!

Absolutely fantastic project. For more musical robots — why not listen to a pack of quad-copters playing their own orchastra?

29 thoughts on “Robotic Player Guitar Rocks Out On Its Own

  1. For the love of god, “it’s” = “it is”. Every time you write a sentence with “it’s” in it, read the sentence back in your head, but replace the it’s with “it is”. Does the sentence make sense? No? Then lose the apostrophe. Third grade grammar is not difficult.

    1. @Tor Lund – Ah… you may mock my friend, but I suspect the average 3rd grader in India in an English medium school would not only know the difference, but would be able to explain it in at least two other languages.

      The trouble is often, not that we don’t understand what the apostrophe should be for, its just that we can’t be bothered thinking long enough to apply the rules. We lol, rofl, and move on to the next subject without having learned anything. Lazy writing, lazy proof reading (and perhaps the lack of an Edit button , in the case of the commants ments)… }:¬) For those who are unsure, there is always Mr Google and his infinite pot of wisdom.. try this for size.. http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apostrophe

  2. nice idea and build, but i would think those cheap servos are way too slow and that it’s impossible to properly sync. them.
    i highly doubt that you can have those consistently strike a chord.
    come back when it can play angel of death or something..

    1. Please do link to your build. It sounds superior in every way, especially if it can consistently strike a chord and play “Angel of Death” or something. Wow! Awesome!

      1. it’s a WIP perhaps, but as is, i bet it can’t play anything because the timing will always be off. while a nice idea, using rc servos for this purpose is not the way to go.

          1. Andrew, you seem to respond very poorly to criticism, which is sad. I was, in fact, not even being very critical, and even shared my experience in why this won’t work. You must think i’m just some anon hating on every other article, but the truth is that i have been involved in projects of this kind before. I have been doing EE work for quite some time. So i’m not talking out of my ass, i promise you. You will not be able to get accurate timing with rc servos. Since you insists om sharing something, i’ll share you the following. It’s a DECAP organ we have been touring with for several years now in our spare time. It’s built by “DECAP Herentals”, for whom i have done consulting on multiple occasions. There is no build log, as this is a commercial product, so sorry about that.

            http://decapbeatmachine.com/

            and here’s a playlist of some of our performances :
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_592wfwU-c&list=PL47322494DF416BD7&index=2

            we also played this baby on the worlds largest annual electronic music festival Tomorrowland.

  3. Since fretboard is unused why not put it in an open tuning at least. Lay it flat and get out the steel bar.
    You should look into harpsichord jacks and apply this into the guitar. Simple solenoid action, inline pattern fitting in sound hole. If jack distance to string is varied by a servo, loudness can be modulated and the retraction on return can be silent instead of the action of a traditional jack. Ga…zink.
    If implemented in a harpsichord this would enable the worlds first one with loud and soft expression. Something that has been a goal for half a millennium.

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