Custom Arduino Guitar




Hi all, I have been working on a guitar project for my brother-in-law who is currently learning how to play the electric guitar. I wanted to build him something that would help him learn but is also really cool at the same time so without any doubt it had to have some cool electric circuitry inside it which had to include an Arduino.

So basically what the guitar has is a small stepper motor which is pulling belt connected to a small frame housing the guitar pickup. The motor is controlled by the X axis of a small Arduino joystick module. When the pickup gets to the optimal location of the guitar such as the neck position or the bridge position it lights two LED's. The whole point of having it move is that he can experience the sound of both positions as well as any position he wanted along the way creating different types of sounds.

The Arduino is powered by a Android Tablet 3.7v 3000mah Lipo battery which is in turn charged by a PowerBoost 500 Charger is got from Maplin. And a small micro usb to 2.0 usb cable runs to the edge of the guitar to enable him to charge the battery once it dies however as the battery is so large and the Arduino is only pulling 5v it should last a decent amount of time between charges.

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Step 1: How I Built the Body

So basically i have built the body out of 3 pieces of 15mm pine (purely for the look and weight of the timber). I built it using 3 pieces so i could make all the necessary cuts to each piece easily and effectively. As you can see from the first picture i decided to have step effect on one side as this houses the linear pots which you can see in the image.

Once the cuts had been drawn and mapped out and the cuts had been made to the middle piece i glues this to the back piece to keep it strong as you will see in the third image. As you will see ive also made the tunnels which the wiring will flow through.

At this point i measured the neck and made the cut for this to sit.

Linear pots:

Step 2: The Pickup Mount and Mechanism

So basically here the pickup is mounted in a small frame which still allows the pickup to be raised and lowered and then attached to two sliders (using small zip ties) which are mounted onto to pieces of 8mm aluminium tubing which runs through the body which is the first image.

The second image is a small mount i created which mounts the small GT2 pulley for the belt to go around. It has a 5mm bore with a 5mm bolt running through so it spins freely.

Aluminum pole:

8mm from B&Q




Step 3: The Wiring and the Motor.

So to fit everything in i needed to map the wiring as best i could. So...... The Arduino has a 2 LED array, a joystick module, the 5v stepper motor connected and is being powered by the Powerboost 500 connected to an old tablet Lipo battery.

The LED array runs two 10mm LED's with 1k resistors that can be turned on by two separate switches mounted at each end of the pickup run (my finger is on one of them) and once either switch is hit the LED's turn on and are bright enough to give of the effect of small flood lights which is really cool.

The Motor is a small stepper motor which is coded to run using the X axis of the joystick module. In the coding you can set how many steps the motor takes however i have coded for many more than needed to give my Brother-in-law the control over the motor and to stop it when it lights the LED's.

The powerboost board is charged using a micro USB however i wanted to mount a 2.0 usb connection which you can see in pictures 3&4. This is mounted using a custom made mount from aluminium. The holes arnt amazing but i dont have the tools to make them perfect. I then used a very fine sandpaper to take the shine of the aluminum to give it a cool look.

I used Hot Glue to keep all of the wires in place and i must say it worked like a charm!

Arduino UNO:



This is a 75mm x 90mm x 3.7mm Android Tablet 3.7v 3000mah battery i got second hand on ebay for just over £6.







Usb to 2.0 usb cable:

Step 4: Added Extras

I wanted to add a little extra so i used the blow tripod and too most of it apart and left the small ball joint with the round mount attached. I attached the small mount to a small angled piece of wood and then onto a Galaxy note 4 phone case (his phone). I then mounted the ball joint into the body leaving only the screw fitting showing but then didnt want this sticking out of the guitar so i dug a small channel for the screw fitting to be able to fall into. Then the case is able to screw onto the fitting and hold the phone in position allowing him to use his phone for tutorial videos and apps while playing at the same time.

Also, i didnt want the Arduino to be on constantly, as in when hes not playing so i installed a switch in the neck which cuts the power to the Arduino so the battery will last longer. I bought a torch from wilko and took the push switch from the bottom and mounted in the head of the neck.

Mini tripod:

Phone case:

Step 5: Finished and Built.

Once i put everything together and screwed the top piece in place from the back it looks like this. I didn't glue the top piece on just in case i need to get to something inside.

All i need to do now is string the guitar and put the joystick head and pot knobs on. If you want the Arduino code for this, let me know and i can send it to you.

I hope you all like the finished project and this has helped with some of your own. Any questions im more than happy to help if i can.


Mr A

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    15 Discussions


    4 years ago

    I like it ! I notice that the " sliders " are no longer available . A suggestion , you could make the pickup mount bigger and ( instead of tying it to the sliders ) , drill holes in the ends to fit over the rods ( stainless steel tubing would be another good choice for the rods ) . At such a slow speed , wood will work well as a linear bearing ! Just make the holes a little bigger than the rods to allow it to slide easily . You could even add switches to either use the joy stick to place the pickup anywhere you want , or have a "bridge/neck position " switch which you could flip while playing . The possibilities are endless ! Good project ! I would like to see and hear it when you get it finished , strung up and set up ( intonated , tuned , etc. )

    Cheers , take care , and have a good day !


    4 years ago

    Very nice contribution! Many years ago - before "Arduino" existed, a proof of concept was introduced at a guitar show, whereby motors worked to adjust string tension, keeping each string in tune at all times. You could apply and extend that with your design, both for keeping strings in tune and changing to different tunings by using pushbuttons (Of course, each tuning would be programmable!).


    4 years ago

    Very clever stuff, nice woodworking.The softwood looks like fast grown stuff so should be quite light. If gluing several layers together, get the annual rings opposing each other like two "C"s back to back - this helps to stop it warping - have a look for slow grown timber with very close rings and much heavier.


    4 years ago

    hey maybe you could add a tuner to it. shouldn't be too difficult to add that function to the arduino. Maybe with 3 leds to show high or low, and on tune. Or maybe a Nokia phone display. Tho I guess a guitar tuner from ebay for a couple of Pounds, could be hacked up and fitted into the guitar.


    4 years ago

    Don't stop here. This is your proto type, now keep it evolving. Reminds me of inovations from other great guitar inventors. Les Paul? :-)

    Great DIY electric guitar. If you want to make the video more accessible, you can embed the video in the page with the "Embed Video" tool in the step editor. Then people will be able to watch the video with out having to download it.

    2 replies


    Have embedded the video like you said. New to posting on Instructables so didnt realise you would have to download it. Thanks for letting me know.

    No problem. It is something that a lot of people miss. It isn't clearly labeled since they re-formatted the way that they page is laid out.


    4 years ago

    A Youtube video of this guitar in action is essential. I like the concept, but frankly a manual pickup slider seems like a better idea.

    2 replies

    Reply 4 years ago

    That's not the maker's point.

    He did it because he CAN. Besides, it's a nice marriage of analog and digital. Anything to do with technology and guitars has tremendous value. It could inspire him or someone else to build.


    4 years ago

    Thanks for the video at the end. It would be interesting to hear this in action.


    4 years ago

    very cool project


    4 years ago

    A really unique design. It looks cool, I admire your creativity. Welcome to Instructables.