Beginnings of the Training Guitar

Note: This post is backdated to when the events written about were taking place. Published June 2016.

As with most universities and technical degree tracks there is a required capstone or senior project. I was partnered up with one other classmate with whom I knew I could work with effectively so I was happy. A third classmate joined in shortly afterwards.

Per requirements of the class, several ideas were tossed around and presented. My partner was an avid guitarist and played in a band. He originated the idea to create an advanced version of the FretLight product, which is currently on the market. Some of the key features of our product over the FretLight [in 2010]:

  • Frets light up finger positions
    • Speed and Accuracy feedback
    • Sensors to detect which string/fret combo pressed
    • Can limit note speed to stay at the pace of the player
    • Display showing which chord or note currently lit up
    • USB slot for memory stick to read files
  • Effects
    • LCD screen that allows player to select from a list of effects
    • Preset effects or custom made on computer or from flash drive
    • Control knobs to fine tune the effects’ properties.
    • LEDs in fret board light up during performance for visual appeal

Like millions of people, I desired to play the guitar. Making my own guitar with the purpose of making training easier and fun was a proposition that I could not turn down. I pushed my partners to choose this project because I felt that this would be challenging and satisfying.

Already [during the proposal stage] I can tell that I am going to be the technical design leader, project manager, and primary contributor of time to this project. My partners do not seem to have an idea as to how to approach the various design aspects so I have already taken that into my hands. I will have to delegate and guide my partners with specific research and work otherwise I will detract the team building and product development skills this class is supposed to help form. Fortunately, my work and school schedule would allow for me to contribute more hours towards the project.

Don’t burn bridges.

This product will require an extensive amount of mechanical and machining work. My previous place of employment was a machine shop and I have become friends with the owner (plus I continue their network maintenance). An endmill will be very useful in preparing the fretboard and body of the guitar as previewed below.

Early Design Aspects

Here are some early and preliminary design approaches for the features on our guitar.


3D model created to illustrate the method in which the LEDs will be recessed in the fret board.


Approach to illuminating 126 LEDs and for sensing specific string press within a fret.


An LCD is to be inset within the body of the guitar so it will not interfere when playing.

Worthy Mention

The usual set of optimistic Gantt charts, budget predictions, and team member responsibilities were defined. I will spare my audience from these details.

The next post will show any changes in features and more in-depth details into the various design aspects of the guitar.

Thanks for tuning in.

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