When Keith Baxter asked a salesman at a Milwaukee sporting-goods store for something stronger than 60-pound line, he wasn't dreaming of big fish. He was hoping to catch a face-melting solo—he needed the line for his PC-controlled, motorized guitar.
Baxter set out to build a different kind of guitar because he found the real thing too tough to learn. His solution: Automate the chords, and cut out the tricky finger work. That meant finding a way to quickly and accurately change the tension of the strings to match the proper notes, without having to press on the fingerboard. After trying other methods, he set three motors toward the back of the guitar. Each one pulls on a piece of fishing line. The lines in turn yank on springs tied to regular guitar strings. To change chords, he punches buttons on a keyboard, sending a signal to his computer, which then directs the work of the motors.
Baxter says that, if played correctly, the 20-pound beast sounds just like a normal electric guitar. It might not impress Clapton, but its intricate design would make an engineer gently weep.
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The only problem with this is that it only has three strings. This limits the types of voicings and extended chords that you can play which require more strings than just three. So it really can't "play any chord you can play on a regular guitar."
I hope that guy got a patent. There is real money to be made here just but it in a box and make it work like a synthesizer/piano. Imagine enabling every piano player to play the guitar without having to learn anything new. Just put a few pedals in to toggle notes and chords. Oh and don't forget to make it compatible with standard Guitar accessories like effects pedals and stuff.
Actually this design is "attribute/non-commercial/share-alike open-source license", therefore free to be made/used/played by anybody with the ingenuity and time. As far as effects, pedals and midi conversion, it's output is pretty much that of a standard electric guitar.