ElektroCaster Is a Modern, Modular, 3D-Printed Guitar
In a time called “the 1950s,” during the heyday of musicians like Les Paul and Buddy Holly, the electric guitar seemed pretty darn futuristic. But, after several decades in the spotlight, they’ve reached a point where they’re pretty mundane. Sure, they’re still cool if you can play them well, but the instruments themselves aren’t making tech news headlines. That’s why Frank Piesik’s ElektroCaster integrates novel electronic features to make the electric guitar radical again.
Piesik wanted to build a modern guitar to compete with the synthesizers and drum machines of the world today, but that still remains recognizable as a guitar. This ambitious project started with the body of the guitar, which was 3D-printed and then skinned with plywood cut on a CNC router. Inside the body for support, and forming the neck, is v-slot aluminum extrusion. That makes the overall construction similar to a semi-hollow body electric.
With some strings and a hexaphonic guitar pickup the ElektroCaster is playable, but Piesik went many steps beyond just “playable.” The entire fret board is inlaid with RGB LEDs, so that every fret position of every string has its own indicator. A Teensy 3.6 can detect those fret positions and use them to synthesize notes. Taking that another step futher, Piesik built in a solenoid-based “kickup” that can strum the strings. Put those together, and the guitarist can playback programmed sequences in real time as they play the ElektroCaster. It’s an extremely interesting modernization of the electric guitar, and could potentially be use to make some fantastic music.