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.
The H2Whoa Credo: DIY can be dangerous. We review all our projects before publishing them, but ultimately your safety is your responsibility. Always wear protective gear, take proper safety precautions, and follow all laws and regulations.single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.