If you hear the words “guitar tech” and immediately think of the roadie who changes strings and tunes up for successful rock bands, think again.
A synthesis is taking place in the basements, bedrooms and garages of tech-savvy guitar players and music- interested computer geeks. Some build 6-string Frankensteins, others construct nano-scale axes that really play, while others are focused on the software that enables musicians to create and share their music in an increasingly technology-dependent world.
Some do all three!
Guitars and technology have gone hand in hand since Les Paul and others experimented with adding electric microphones to acoustic guitars.
‘My latest guitar project is fitting an accelerometer from wii controller inside my guitar and hooking it up to a simple wah circuit. The idea is that you raise and lower the guitar to activate the wah pedal’. –Chris Holden
The computer and IT revolution means hackers and guitar nerds are now taking things to an entirely new level. The result is a special breed of geek who combines cutting edge DIY techie innovations and the passion only a true muso could muster. Brighton-based Chris Holden, who holds the distinction of being both an old school programmer and a musician of 20 years, has experimented with combining various musical instruments and computers in his own DIY style.
He’s actually more of a guitar hacker than a computer hacker, often buying cheap guitars off eBay, experimenting with various guitar hacks and add-ons like built-in effects and flashing LED lights. One of his projects that’s been garnering a fair bit of attention is his work with mini instruments, especially his line of MicroGuitars. He began creating small USB devices inspired by 80s tabletop electronic drum kits – remember Mattel’s Synsonics drums? Using a laser cutter and drum software, Chris and a friend made their first mini drum kit in the course of just one evening. From there they moved on to mini guitars, mini basses, synths and even microphones, effectively creating an entire micro rock band.
Chris sells his hand-made, custom designed MicroGuitars and other MicroInstruments through www.microband.co.uk. Clients can choose which kind of guitar model they’d like (SG, Flying V, Stratocaster, customized, etc.) as well as a range of samples to be loaded into the guitar. You can even decide which fret on the fingerboard will trigger each sample! MicroGuitarists can also create their own songs or “micro mash-ups” of their favourite artists by using a simple recording program and easily share their MicroBand creations on the internet.
The MicroBand website provides a bank of samples or guitar riffs, a place to upload your songs and a community to share them with. Another project Chris is working on is a way to turn a mobile phone into a mini guitar amplifier, allowing tech geek guitarists to free themselves from cumbersome wired connections and PCs for the ultimate in wireless mini mobility jamming. Visit www.microband.co.uk.