Yep, this is awesome:
For the past year I've been thinking a lot about solo guitar interfaces. One of the challenges with being a guitarist and playing solo is that both hands are almost constantly busy with the guitar and your feet are usually busy with pedals. Doesn't leave a lot of other options.
I've thought up a lot of ways the guitar as an interface could be improved or augmented and the simplest idea seems like it would be to put a bunch of easily accessible buttons in the guitar and have those buttons simulate keystrokes on my laptop. How hard could that be? Let's see.
I ordered some Seimitsu PS-14 arcade buttons. A lot of the buttons I found were wayyyy too deep (such as these) but these ones looked like they might not go all the way through my guitar and halfway into my torso while playing.
I also impulse bought an Arduino. The Arduino is awesome but turning button presses into keyboard strokes isn't really its main deal. So I ordered an I-PAC VE which is dedicated entirely to simulating keyboard controls.
Months later when the I-PAC finally arrived, I wired up the buttons and the board and it all worked on the first try. I made a little cardboard stand for testing:
But it doesn't look like there's much testing to do, it's pretty brain dead easy. I had it entering keystrokes on the computer and triggering clips in Ableton Live within minutes. Windows XP even recognized the I-PAC without any additional drivers, very nice.
Where should the buttons go on the guitar? I put some cut-out circles on it to see where they'd fit and be most useful:
This is the layout I'm thinking of right now. There's a lot to take into consideration, such as:
- Ease of access while playing (the upper right ones seem close enough I'd be able to hit them with only a brief pause in playing)
- Staying away from locations where accidental hits are likely (the right side is where my arm is while playing)
- Making sure I don't interfere with any of the guitar's guts
- Keeping them far enough away from the edge that I don't weaken and collapse it
Right now I'm wondering if I should try to house the circuit board inside the guitar and run a USB cable from the guitar to my laptop or should I run the wires from the buttons to the external I-PAC which would be by the laptop? I do not know.
There's a lot of enthusiasm about Guitar Rising -- a "real guitar" version of Guitar Hero. Just to be a stick in the mud I'm calling shenanigans: machine parsing guitar playing has been the holy grail of guitar nerds for quite some time. So unless the authors of this game have figured out something that all those folks working on guitar to MIDI translators for the past twenty years have failed to do, it will probably suck ass. And if they have figured that out, why not sell a multi-hundred dollar plugin to guitarists instead?
I was having a discussion with a friend of mine last night about whether the song Phantom by Justice could be played on the electric guitar. I thought it could be (but it would sound stupid) and he wasn't sure (but thought it would sound stupid). So here it is, me playing along with Justice's song Phantom: