Introduction: Makey Makey Bass

An open bass...on paper! Using Makey Makey, copper tape, an LED, and some jumper cables.

Step 1: Connect to Ground

Since your body is essentially the circuit connector in this project, you're going to have to make an easy location to connect to ground. The bottom panel of the Makey Makey board titled "earth" is where you can connect to ground, then you have to touch the open end of the alligator clip to your body to complete the circuit. I dedicated a spot on my paper to touch when playing the instrument, but you can also tape the open end of the alligator clip to your body so you don't even have to think about it.

Step 2: Patch Lettering

The left bank on the back of the Makey Makey board holds the lettering outputs. The defaults are "W,A,S,D,F,G". We can use a virtual synth site like this to connect the letters to a noise output. Since we are not using arduino, we can just use the keys "S,G,A,F" to create the same intervals between strings that the bass would have even though the first note would technically be D rather than E. So we only need to patch the letters S, G, A, and F.

Step 3: Connect to Bass Paper

Connect the jumper cables to strips of copper tape on the paper, laid out like strings on a bass. Make sure they are in order: S G A F

Even though the octaves are incorrect, they are all perfect fourths from each other (like strings on a bass). The conductive copper tape is the end of the circuit where you will eventually touch and complete the circuit, triggering the sound on the virtual synth.

Step 4: Light for Fun

You can also add an LED that lights up when you touch the bass for fun! For this we use the top bank on the back of the Makey Makey board, or the output bank. The first two slots in the output bank are open to whatever you'd like to place in the circuit, like an LED. The first slot sends signal to the output when a keyboard function occurs, and the second slot sends signal when a mouse function occurs. For this project, we'll use the keyboard slot. Slip the legs of the LED into the keyboard slot and the ground slot (or use jumper cables/alligator clips to customize location of LED). Now whenever the bass is being played, the light will go off!

Step 5: Play!

Now just play! Make sure the virtual synth window is open and selected on your computer. Also remember to always be touching ground when playing the instrument. The copper tape strips are like the strings, just touch them to make noise!

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Bio: Women's Audio Mission is a San Francisco based, non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of women in music production and the recording arts. In ... More »
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