gTar uses an iPhone and LEDs to teach you to play the guitar

This isn’t your traditional axe, but an electric guitar-digital device hybrid that makes sound via MIDI processed through an iPhone.

Have you always wanted to be a rockstar but lacked the necessary musical talent? After all, learning to play the guitar can be a daunting (and expensive) task. But thanks to our friends at Incident Technologies, there is now an easy-to-use, cost-effective solution: the gTar.


Previously seen on Kickstarter and more recently, inside Eureka Park at CES 2015, gTar is a fully digital guitar that enables anybody of any experience level to play music quickly and easily with the help of LEDs and a docked iPhone. Users simply affix their smartphone to the guitar body, load its accompanying mobile app, and follow an array of interactive LEDs along the multi-touch fretboard — which can play various sounds and triggers via its MIDI compatibility. Not only does the gTar show you what to play, but tracks whether you’re doing it correctly. According to its creators, the learning system will have you rocking out in under 15 minutes.

“We think that everybody should be able to have fun playing music, regardless of how long they’ve been playing or how much time they have to practice. That’s why we built an intuitive feature called SmartPlay, which mutes out incorrect notes as you play and nudges you along as you play through difficult songs,” a company rep explains.


Don’t be mistaken, the device possesses the same aesthetically appealing design of an everyday electric guitar. In fact, gTar is constructed from basswood and maple, giving it the look, feel and durability of a time-tested axe while packed with some additional components like an ATtiny48. It should also be noted that the hardware is open-source, enabling endless possibilities for Makers.

On the software side, the app features three modes: SmartPlay, Free Play and Create. It comes bundled with a library of over 150 preprogrammed songs from third-party sites that allow users to begin shredding right away. SmartPlay mode teaches users specific songs and scales, which are ranked by color in terms of their difficulty level: green for easy, yellow for moderate and red for hard. During the easiest stages, gTar will automatically “fret” for beginners and mute out incorrect notes. Using its ATtiny48 powered LEDs, you can learn some of the biggest hit songs, ranging from The Beatles to David Bowie.

As you make your way through the ranks to FreePlay, users are given free reign over the multi-touch fretboard, where musicians can then choose from a variety of 15+ sound kits, including guitar models, keyboards, synths, and even drums. This mode also provides an expression pad for tweaking four built-in sound effects, like echo or distortion, and a panel that offers full control of the LEDs. Feeling confident? Once ready, through the company’s new Sequence app, you can create beats, melodies, and rhythms without any previous musical skills. Sequence can be used either standalone, or with the gTar fretboard acting as an interactive controller.


If AVR Man can do it, anyone truly can! Interested in learning more? Head on over to gTar’s official page here.

2 thoughts on “gTar uses an iPhone and LEDs to teach you to play the guitar

  1. Pingback: Learning how to play the guitar the Maker way | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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