Check-In CES: Guitar Playing 101

Kickstarter helped launch the gTar

Becoming a rock star is every kid’s dream, however the time and effort it takes to learn an instrument prohibits most from achieving this. While the introduction of Guitar Hero on PlayStation 2 in 2005 allowed players to simulate playing their favorite songs on a guitar-shaped controller, playing the video game did not translate into any real-world musical capabilities. Since the introduction of Guitar Hero, there have been other games, such as the Rocksmith titles, that gamify the process of learning the guitar, but none that combine the software with the hardware into one efficient package. Enter the gTar.

Labeled as “the first guitar that anybody can play,” the gTar is another in a long line of Kickstarter success stories – raising more than 3.5x its $100,000 goal from nearly 1,000 backers. As a fully digital, app-enabled smart guitar powered by a user’s iPhone, you don’t need any extra equipment to start playing/learning. All users need to do is dock their iPhone in the body of the gTar, load up the gTar app, and an array of interactive LEDs along the fretboard will show users how to play. In addition, the physical layout and feel is the exact same as an electric guitar, so everything you learn is transferable to a traditional guitar.

While the gTar looks and feels like a normal electric guitar, there are several features that allow it to stand out as both an instrument of learning and a composition tool. First and foremost is the multi-touch LED fretboard. This feature not only shows users where to put their fingers, but can also track how well users are doing in real time as they play. This smart guitar features smart strings which are able to pick up even the most subtle string movement through sensors located in the bridge. Finally, the gTar has full MIDI compatibility, which lets musicians connect to software and create a wide array of sounds and triggers right on the guitar fretboard. This compatibility transforms the gTar from just a guitar into an effective, versatile music composition tool. With an ever-increasing stable of compatible apps, this smart guitar has limitless potential when it comes to both learning and creating music. 

The gTar is a very exciting innovation, not just from a musical standpoint, but from a technological and educational standpoint as well. It is a fantastic example of someone harnessing the power of smartphones and the app ecosystem in order to make a complicated task much simpler. Going forward, expect to see other similarly innovative devices focused on musical education and other areas where this intuitive experience makes learning more efficient.