Learning to play guitar like an axe god isn't easy. It takes time and dedication and many, many hours of study. Hardly surprising, then, that many would-be noodlers give up even before the first calluses start to form. We've been introduced to a good many teaching aids over the years, including those which light up the fretboard, others that transform learning into addictive games and even complicated keyboard-like overlays. University of Texas graduate Alex Levine says that his Guitar Now system will have students playing three major chords in minutes, allowing players to strum along to hundreds of songs by the likes of Taylor Swift, The Beatles and the Foo Fighters in no time.
The Guitar Now system features plastic chord shape guides that are slotted onto a collar and top plate at the nut of the guitar. Once in position, the tabs of the chord inserts extend to appropriate finger positions on the neck. Each tab has a callus builder button at the optimum finger position, which has been designed to make forming and holding the chord a natural – and less painful – experience by spreading the force over the whole of the button, instead of directly onto the metal string.
To strike a chord, the student simply needs to push down on the callus builder buttons with fretting fingers and strum the strings with the other hand. Any trailing plastic touching strings behind the tabs shouldn't sound, so players should get a perfectly-formed chord.
At this stage of development, the system will come with three (or possibly four) chord inserts, representing G major, D major and C major chord shapes (with A minor also on the cards). Rock guitarists only actually using three chords throughout their careers has been a running joke in learning circles for years, but Levine reckons that this three chord arsenal should allow students to play "hundreds of songs from artists like The Jonas Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sublime, Guns n Roses, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash and many more."
The system's creator did tell us that he intends to add all of the major and minor chord shapes in the future, but wanted to start simple. With a pre-production prototype in the bag, the Guitar Now project has launched on Kickstarter for the final market push. At the time of writing, pledges start at US$25. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in July.
The video below outlines the Guitar Now learning system.