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Synth hacker helps Gibson Les Paul go MIDI mad

Synth hacker helps Gibson Les ...
This early build from Look Mum No Computer gives a rare look at one of synth tinkerer Sam Battle's earliest hacks
This early build from Look Mum No Computer gives a rare look at one of synth tinkerer Sam Battle's earliest hacks
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This early build from Look Mum No Computer gives a rare look at one of synth tinkerer Sam Battle's earliest hacks
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This early build from Look Mum No Computer gives a rare look at one of synth tinkerer Sam Battle's earliest hacks
The built-in MIDI keyboard is powered by AA-sized batteries
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The built-in MIDI keyboard is powered by AA-sized batteries
Each of the buttons that form the MIDI keyboard illuminates when powered on
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Each of the buttons that form the MIDI keyboard illuminates when powered on
A look at the back of the build shows the mess of wiring connected to Arduino brains, housed behind an acrylic plate
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A look at the back of the build shows the mess of wiring connected to Arduino brains, housed behind an acrylic plate
The Les Paul with built-in MIDI keyboard was created so that Sam Battle could play guitar and keyboards in a band, without having to haul around separate instruments
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The Les Paul with built-in MIDI keyboard was created so that Sam Battle could play guitar and keyboards in a band, without having to haul around separate instruments
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He's transformed an old bike into a rolling synth, smashed up a microwave to make a sparky drum, and more recently turned a games console into a music machine. Now Sam Battle of Look Mum No Computer goes back in time to revisit one of his earliest builds – a Gibson Les Paul with built-in MIDI keyboard.

While preparing for a move, Battle uncovered a bunch of guitars that included an old Gibson Les Paul. Opening the hard case revealed a modification from 2010 where the classic rock monster was sacrificed at the MIDI alter.

The hack was undertaken because he was playing in a band that needed a guitarist and keyboard player, so he decided to combine the two in one instrument. With help from his father, the back of the guitar was routed to make room for the extra electronics and then holes were drilled into the top of the body, above and behind the bridge.

The built-in MIDI keyboard is powered by AA-sized batteries
The built-in MIDI keyboard is powered by AA-sized batteries

Two rows of illuminated buttons were placed in the holes, all the spaghetti of wires are fed to an Arduino, which serves as the brains of the operation and turns the buttons up top into a keyboard. A dial directly behind the bridge powers on the battery-operated circuit and serves to also change MIDI channels. MIDI signals are output via a 5-pin DIN port.

The original neck-position humbucker has been removed and used for another project, with Battle intending to install an infinite sustainer in its stead, but he never got around to it. Perhaps some sort of X/Y control pad could be mounted here, like those in Matt Bellamy's guitars, in a future mod, but for now here's just a non-functional plate covering the pickup bay.

So was the sacrifice worth it? You can judge for yourself in the video below, where Battle cables it up to his huge modular synthesizer. Sounds pretty good to us though.

A Very Strange Modified Gibson Les Paul Synthesizer

Source: Look Mum No Computer

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1 comment
ljaques
I'm glad I don't live 1- Next door to him now. or 2 - Next door to where he's moving. // Sacrilege! Les is quoite rollin over in his grayve, 'e is.