Startup Sensy has launched a guitar-shaped electronic instrument featuring a fretboard crammed with follow-me lights designed to get noobs playing tunes quickly, but can also be used by seasoned pros as a MIDI interface or eye-catching melody maker.
Learning to play a musical instrument can be tough going, with many would-be rock stars abandoning efforts as their finger ends cry for mercy, in the case of the guitar for example, or they hit a learning brick wall when faced with the drudge of music theory.
Though hard work and dedication should pay off eventually, we’ve seen numerous gadgetry designed to ease folks in – such as following lights on a guitar fretboard or a special piano keyboard, or even combining the two. The Sensy Guitar is the latest to aim for the latter.
“Do you remember, not too long ago, in order to take high-quality photos, you had to have skills and an expensive camera?” said Sensy co-founder, Dmitriy Dudarev. “Now, everyone can do it using just a smartphone. Imagine a versatile musical gadget that fits in a backpack and enables anyone to effortlessly play any instrument.”
The Sensy Guitar project has launched a production bid on Kickstarter. Users pick or strum six “string” velocity sensors on the deck area while pushing down colorful pressure-sensitive LED buttons at fret positions on the Kitara-like neck.
The lights can show left- or right-handed students where and when to place their fretting fingers during lessons, provide a visual aid when composing tunes, light up interactive games or play eye-catching animations while players show off their chops.
The instrument’s internal 5,000-mAh battery is reckoned good for up to 12 hours of music on the move, and users can take advantage of the cooked-in synthesizer to voice more than 70 instrument sounds through cabled headphones or a portable speaker.
The device also connects to a laptop or smartphone over Bluetooth LE (with latency reported to be in the region of 8-10 ms) or via USB cable. A companion app has been developed to activate playing modes, serve up follow-the-lights tunes or scales, automatically record sessions, launch games or allow for the adjustment device parameters such as “string” sensitivity, pitch or LED behavior.
The app sports an AI mode too, which taps into “an intelligent algorithm that can analyze your finger movements and generate unique music” – allowing users to “release your inner Van Halen and simply create music while the device adapts to your style and manner of playing, automatically adjusting the music it produces and making it sound totally amazing.”
The Sensy Guitar is also MIDI compatible and can be used by seasoned players and learners alike to create projects in popular music production apps like GarageBand, Ableton Live and Pro Tools (without the need to install additional drivers). If strapping it around your neck is not your thing, the unit can be placed flat on a tabletop or lap and used as a kind of MIDI keyboard – with polyphonic aftertouch – to create beats or sounds. And a built-in gyro can sense movement and adjust pitch accordingly, adding another layer of expression.
Kickstarter pledges for a Sensy Guitar, mobile app, guitar strap and cables start at US$299. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in June 2023. The video below has more.
Sensy Guitar: AI-powered music device with smart LEDs for novices and pro musicians