LED-ifying A Guitar

Say you have a guitar, an expensive guitar – one of only three like it. And say this guitar sounds great, but it’s missing something. It needs something, but something that won’t ruin the finish. Over at Sparkfun, [Englandsaurus] was asked to come up with a really cool looking mod to a three-of-a-kind guitar – covering the body with LED strips to create light patterns on the guitar.

In order not to damage or modify the guitar [Englandsaurus] sandwiched the body between two plexiglass sheets, connected together by 3D printed clips. The clips have a dual purpose – they hold the plexiglass pieces to the guitar and also act as conduits for a pair of fiber optic tubes that run around the edge of the body. In order that the color goes all the way around the guitar’s edge without a break in the light, the fiber optic cables are offset. At each clip light is fed into them. One cable runs between two clips, skipping one in between, and the second cable runs between the skipped clips. This allows light to flow around the guitar’s body.

At nearly 500W at full-white, these LEDs draw a lot of power, however, at full brightness they’re overpoweringly bright, so [Englandsaurus] used some WonderFlex, a moldable, diffuse plastic sheet, to cover them. Even with this, the LEDs aren’t run at full brightness. The fiber optic cables, though, need full brightness due to their covering.

Around 1600 LEDs went in to this mod and the guitar itself hasn’t been modified.  Everything is removable, and the guitar would go back to its original self if the strips were taken off. Take a look at Strumbot, another project where the original guitar wasn’t modified, or a really cool scrap metal guitar.

12 thoughts on “LED-ifying A Guitar

  1. hmm …

    My fault: I fail to see the “connection” between the Christmas-tree-lighting and the music the guitar is meant to be used for … maybe a Christmas song might have helped.
    More precisely: The computer music doesn’t “glue” the LEDs and the guitar together, a well-played riff would have helped me a lot there :-)

    Now, if the lights would “illustrate” the music that is played by the guitar (do some quick FFT and turn the results into patterns?) – THAT might be fun.

    1. That video is just of “test code” as [Englandsaurus] is neither the owner nor the intended player of this guitar. In fact, the guitar hasn’t even been restrung after the modification at the time of the video, so the intended final code probably COULDN’T have been run.

  2. While I understand that such a rare instrument shouldn’t be modified with blinkenlights, and have a lot of respect for the folks that did this who found a good way to add them without harming the guitar, I find myself wondering what could be done with a guitar that isn’t rare or expensive. It would be incredible to see someone do this sort of modification actually built into the body of a guitar such as a Squier Strat, low-end Ibanez, or something used and totally beat. It could be a lot of fun, and maybe even be used as a prototype to help develop a modification process that could then be used with better, more high-end guitars.
    Just a thought…

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