‘Maestro’ guitar concept turns music files into laser-projected fretboard markings


Ask any budding guitarist what the hardest thing about playing guitar is and you’ll likely hear, “Making my fingers go on the part where they’re supposed to go and pressing down on the string in the finger spot where the criss-crossey thing isn’t right under my finger but the flat part that doesn’t have the metal criss-cross thing there, but in between the two metal things where sometimes there are dots.” It happens all the time.

An entry into the Australian Design Awards (a James Dyson Award entry) aims to make learning the guitar easier. Called the “Maestro” by designer Eugene Cheong of the University of New South Wales, “The product accepts music file data in mp3, midi or wav formats via an SD card. This data, through software, is then converted into guitar tablature data… and is then visually represented via laser projection onto the guitar fretboard to guide beginners.”

The apparatus attaches to the body of the guitar between the strumming area and the neck and features an OLED screen with information about the current song and playback controls.


As you can see, this beginner is learning to play “One” by Metallica which is, like, the easiest song in the history of guitar. It’s a great starter tune. He or she should follow it up with “Lucretia” by Megadeth and then “Eruption” by Van Halen.

The Maestro is just a concept at this point but could make for a very interesting product. Obviously, some pretty serious hurdles have to be leapfrogged first, such as…

  • On-the-fly conversion of a music file into guitar tablature
  • Exact projection of laser beams onto the correct frets
  • Precise rhythm and strumming cues

…to name a few. It’s more likely that special audio files would need to be created from master recordings of certain songs, kind of like how the songs in Guitar Hero and Rock Band work. Still, it’d be cool to strap one of these things to your guitar and slowly and methodically pace your way through a new song to learn the notes. Not a bad idea at all.

Maestro – Australian Design Award – James Dyson Award [via DVICE/Yanko]