Introduction: Guitar Hero: Guitar W/ Strings (MaKey MaKey)

Utilizing the MakeyMakey program, we have constructed a guitar out of a scrap wood plank, ten screws, five stripped copper wires, and of course the MakeyMakey creation kit. The guitar acts as an alternate controller to the traditional Guitar Hero guitar, which was played with five different-colored buttons.

We improved the design of this model by stretching the copper wires across the plank so they could be used in place of the buttons, to give the player an experience closer to playing an actual guitar.

There are five strings (which correspond to the five buttons) each labeled A, S, D, F, G. When each wire (string) is touched, it will play the dedicated note in response to the electrical current in our bodies being passed through the strings, to the screws, to the alligator clip and thus to the MakeyMakey board and attached computer.

Step 1: Materials:

This particular project does not require a very wide range of materials or skills.

You will need:

  • A spare piece of wood, any shape as long as it is comfortable to hold
  • Five completely stripped copper wires
  • Ten screws of any size, along with corresponding drill bit (make sure they
    are not long enough to go through the wood!
  • The MakeyMakey creation kit (all pieces are used save one white wire)
  • A strip of metal tape or tin foil, must be large enough to cover area where non-playing
    hand is placed.
  • Electric drill
  • Any tool that could be used to efficiently and tightly coil wire around screw
    (we used a pair of pliers)
  • Ruler

Step 2: Step 1 - Construction:

Using the ruler, measure the width of your plank and separate the width into five sections, drawing each border (this should create five lines parallel to the length of the board). Leaving room for a handle, place the ten screws, five on each side, opposite of each other in two rows. These will act as guitar pins to hold the strings on the board. When screwing your selected screws into the board, ensure that there is approximately 3/8 of an inch between the head of the screw and the board, so that the wires have room to coil around the screws.

Step 3: Step 2 - Construction:

Once each screw is in place, find and completely strip five copper or steel wires (whichever is easier to coil) which are approximately two or three inches longer than the distance between the rows of screws. This extra slack will allow tighter and more effective coils.

When the wires are fully prepared and even, wrap the edge of one wire around your first screw, and once secure stretch the wire to it's opposite screw (creating a lot of tension) and coil the wire around the screw.

**Make sure to leave a little room between the wire and plank to simulate the pressing of strings on a fretboard**

Step 4: Step 3 - Construction:

After each wire is secure and up to your standards, attach a piece of metal tape (or aluminum foil) to the open space on your plank (Remember? The area you left bare in step one?) and leave a small flap on any edge of the plank for the alligator clip to attach to.

This will complete the construction of your board, and you can now label each string accordingly, "A - S - D - F - G", starting with G for your top string and descending to A. You may label the metal tape as well if you find it necessary.

Step 5: Step 4 - Wiring:

Time to break out your MakeyMakey kit! Take the six wires and attach five to the screws (one for each screw) and then attach the sixth to the flap you created on the metal tape. Then grab five of the six provided white wires from your kit, and slide them into the A, S, D, F, G ports on the back of the MakeyMakey chip. Attach the wires from the screws to the exposed areas of the white wires, checking that each string on the guitar corresponds to each port on the MakeyMakey. Finally, attach the wire connected to your metal tape / aluminum foil to any of the pre-built alligator clip ports labeled under the "GROUND" section.