If you want some on-instrument visuals to complement your playing, you can have LEDs installed in the neck or wrap the fingerboard in a sleeve, but what about all that idle space on the body? Sparkfun's Andy England was recently asked to light up one of three custom guitars, and has now modified it to play video animations on the body itself.
Even though the host guitar from Donnie Miller (aka Decadon) was one of only three in the world, the Colorado music producer/guitarist wanted a mod that would make it one-of-a-kind. With this in mind, the body was covered in LEDs in a way that wouldn't damage the instrument.
England sandwiched the guitar's body between two custom-cut plexiglass sheets, connected together along the outside edges using tabs. The outer shape of the guitar was then further defined by an unbroken double-twist fiber optic line all the way around.
Just over 1,500 SK6812 LEDs were mounted to the plexiglass out front and formed into an array that covers the whole body, apart from the pickups and hardware. The bare LEDs were then diffused through a heat-activated fabric called Wonderflex.
England had already figured out how to wirelessly drive lighting using ArtNet DMX and decided to apply this knowledge to the custom guitar project. The location of each pixel is mapped in software and animated lighting designs sent to an ESP32 around back of the guitar over Wi-Fi from a laptop.
The guitar hack is ongoing, but we reckon the results so far are nothing short of eye-popping. You can judge for yourself in the video below.
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