Smart Guitar design




Smart guitar system device and software for music fans who want to play guitar but do not want to spend years to repetitively practice switching or memorize hundreds of complex hand positions for different music chord or melody line. The software is used to transform music notes into four dimensional data to represent music information of hand position, playing sequence and time unit. The software could transfer the data to an electric circuit controller in a guitar via USB wire. The controller controls electric circuit under guitar strings to activate electric magnet in certain positions and thus drag down strings in the right place. Four keyboard keys in the left part of guitar is designed to send rhythm signal from the player's hand control to the electric controller to tell the circuit to move to the next hand position, which means the next chord or melody note. Six lights near the right end of strings inform the player which string is to be played.





A traditional guitar (both acoustic and electronic) requires very complex left hand technique for countless hand positions for chords and strength to press strings firmly and stretch fingers. Many people give up guitar learning very soon because it hurts their fingers, especially for girls when it comes to F chord, which requires one finger to press all six strings together, and repeated practice tend to be boring. While music is fun, to play music becomes much harder and not accessible for non-professionals. There might be interesting music idea inside non-guitarist's mind, but it just can not be expressed, because he or she doesn't have strong muscle or good memory of hand position. This is not fair.


This guitar is able to make guitar more accessible for the public who do not want to spend a lot of time to practice hand technique, strength or memorize a lot of hand positions by implementing a kind of control system receiving information of hand position from music sheet format file and control the electronic magnet under guitar strings, thus enabling player to focus on the right hand control of strings, which represents the dynamic and emotion and timbre of music, leaving the left hand controlling only the rhythm of music. In this way, guitar playing could be much easier and requires much less repetitive practice. The same kind of method could possibly be implemented into other kinds of music instrument.





               Detailed Description

1.     Software to transfer information

The user is supposed to input music sheet information, like in the figure 1, which means the hand position information, as four dimension data, including:


[(x,y) (x,y) (x,y); z; t]

X: the number of fret at one time point

Y: the number of string pressed at one time point

Z: the sequence of strings to be played

T: time point


Figure 1
Figure 2

After the transform process into 4 dimensional data, the computer will transfer the data into the controller inside the guitar arm with USB.  (Figure 3)

For example, if the C chord (figure 2) is to be played at the first time point in the sequence that the 2nd string is to be played first, following with the 3rd string and 5th string together, and finally the 6th string, the data will be:

[(x,y) (x,y) (x,y);            z;   t]

[(1,5) (2,2) (3,2); (2, 4 5,6);1]

When C chord is over, the ‘t’ parameter will jump to 2, and the data will all be changed into the second chord, maybe a G chord and different sequence of playing.


Figure 3

2.     The controller and attached electric circuit

2.1 (x,y) position with electric circuit distribution

The controller will transfer received information into the electric circuit lead electric current to the specific (x, y) position with an electronic circuit design (like logic gate to pin the x-y crossing point). In every point of the electric circuit, an electric magnet is circled by electric wires. When electric current is led to the (x,y) point, the magnet will be activated.  (Figure 4)


At every point of (x,y) position, there’s a round circle circling the guitar string (Figure 5), a small piece of metal is attached at the lowest point of circle, facing the electric magnet. When the electric magnet is activated, it pulls down the pieces of metal in every referenced (x,y) points, creating the effect similar to people’s fingers’ pressing down the strings.


Figure 4
Figure 5

2.2 The time t parameter and the keyboard (Figure 6)

Figure 6

By pressing the piano-like keyboard, the user is sending a signal to the controller informing the controller that the time parameter ‘t’ is going to reach next unit and the (x,y)position and sequence parameter ‘z’ should jump to the next position. In this way, the user could control the rhythm of music.        

There are four keys on the board, no matter which one the user presses, the effect will be the same. The reason for implementing more than one key is to enable the user to play with four fingers, which could move much faster and more comfortably than just one finger.     


2.3 Sequence parameter ‘z’ and lights (Figure 7)

Figure 7

The sequence  data will be transferred to the 6-row-3-line of electric lights to inform the player which one of the 6 strings is going to be played in the coming 3 time unit.

However, it should be noticed that the way to play a chord is quite flexible, the user does not have to obey the light to play, a lot of ways and rhythms to play a chord could create different emotion feelings of music, that all depends on the player’s taste of music. It’s not a game, but a tool for the user to explore and create new music.  



With this tool, all the user needs to do is to transfer whatever music he or she likes from computer to the controller in guitar using the software. Next, the user could start to play with pressing only 4 keys on the keyboard to control the rhythm of music, instead of almost 100 fret points on original guitar, and use right hand to play the six strings as guided by the lights or create new ways to play chords. It’s much easier and more intuitive than regular guitar.


                      Possible  future development        

1.       Tremolo effect

When the user shakes the keyboard, the string will also be shaked and create a shaking sound effect like guitar’s tremolo effect, similar device has existed in accordion, which shakes the pressure of air flow to modulate sound.

2.       Speed to press the key

A sensor could be implemented under the keys and detect the speed the users presses the key, and the sensor will tell the controller to pull down the string faster or slower to make new sound effect.

3.       The circle’s material to drag down the string

To make this more like human pressing down string, the material of the circle could be made from rubber, or something else which has the same touch effect of human fingers. And possibly other kinds of material could create more interesting sound effect.

4.       Apply this method to other string instrument

There are a lot of string instrument that has the same principle as guitar, like violin, cello. This method could be applied to these kinds of instrument, too.  In this way, a series of smart string instrument could be created.

What’s more, this kind of control system could be applied to non-string instrument like wind instrument.

5.       More interaction on the software interface

The user could modulate the music note before transforming music sheet information.In this way, the commercialization target market could target people who has some knowledge of music but can not play string instrument. They could make modulations of music in software and play it out with such a guitar easily to see how their music would sound like in guitar or similar string instrument.