Music box concept + Guitar guts = Player Guitar

Don't know if this specifically needs to go in music but, whatever.

for christmas i made my brother a (somewhat poorly constructed) lap steel guitar. seriously, it wasn't that good, but it worked and it was more of a "can i do this project" kind of thing, plus he has a friend who is an ACTUAL luthier so he's going to "redo it"....


anywho, i made said guitar using zither pins for the tuning pegs and it got me to thinking. with the zither pins you could theoretcially have a guitar string of any length and use the pin to set that string to any given tone on any particular scale (say the functional length of the string was only 3 inches....you could still theoretically set the tune on that string to a semi permanent desired tone). so, with a bunch of short lengths of various guage strings you could create a guitar music box (probably more of a music barrel but, whatever).

now, normal music box has the tone pins (not sure what they're called...but the tuned slivers of metal) stationary along one (or more) fixed planes and a revolving "picking" drum that strikes each pin to make the tone in the order that it needs to be in a piece of music. for whatever reason.

so, combine these two ideas and you get a player guitar, or a guitar based music box, whatever.

so, obviously this could be acoustic or electric. my personal preference is to lean towards electric, so that's where the question comes in. a normal guitar pickup has 4, 6, or whatever magnets fixed within it's coils so that you can pickup the signal from 4, 6, or whatever strings that are strung paralell(ish) across the guitar. for the music box concept to work (as opposed to a true player guitar that plays across the strings) the individual string pieces (that are all individually tuned etc) wouldn't be able to be parallell to each other like a normal guitar. they'd either be in line on the same plane or spaced out in odd ways (i've got an odd concept for the actual construction...where the strings do the moving and the "strummers" stay put).

so, does a single magnet pickup exist? that could just be wired up into the rest of a normal electric guitar's circuitry? or would i have to build such a thing from scratch (and subsequently how would i do that)? would a normal electric guitar's circuitry be able to work the same with more than 6 pickups in play (thinking of a cheap one from a pawn shop...that's what i built the slide guitar from)?

also, taking song suggestions and subsequent individual string tuning plans

*i do know that there are "better" ways to make a self playing guitar that uses the normal guitar form factor and robotics and such....but this seems more fun. plus, i might make it into a wind powerd thing...electric guitar windchimes anyone?

gmoon6 years ago
While some single coil pickups use a separate (alnico) magnet per string, many single coils use a single ceramic bar magnet with steel posts or screws. And practically all humbucking pickups use that schema. Some pickups don't have posts at all, just a steel plate/ridge contacting the bar magnet.

You might run into impedance issues when wiring a single, huge pickup, though. Some modifications from the standard pickup wire might be needed. Not to mention the practical challenge of winding such a thing.

But many guitars (particularly oddball MIJ 60's guitars) have had 3 or 4 pickups wired both in series and parallel...or a mixture thereof. I'd try that with cheapo pickups first, before spending months experimenting with different magnets and wire.

Besides, you'd have more layout flexibility with multiple pickups, so your multi-plane idea will be easier to implement...
caitlinsdad6 years ago
crapflinger (author)  caitlinsdad6 years ago
perhaps....but i've used those for other projects and....well with the way this thing is imagined in my head i'd have to use more than one to make sure each tone got picked up at the same volume