[islandlabs] How to: Play Guitar Hero with a Real Guitar

Jim Robert jim.mixtake at gmail.com
Tue Mar 3 13:51:06 EST 2009

you could probably clip a piezo to your headstock or bridge and use it as a
pickup... They work very well for this type of thing, and there are some
clip on guitar tuners that use the same concept.

Then use a lowpass filter to get rid of as many of the upper harmonics as
possible...  (circuit to make a lpf here:

then get the frequency using an fft, and calibrate the system to which
frequency to use at each fret (or just get the lowest one and use a little
math to calculate the rest)

Voila :)

I think that calibration is going to be inevitable since you can't count on
a guitar to be perfectly in tune (and even if you can, you can't count on
your pickup to work exactly the same on every guitar OR that the frets will
be perfect. Also, most people will not be using pro level guitars, and small
inaccuracies are very common

you may also want to add a function that keeps track of the pitch of the
last 20 notes and calibrate the system on the fly to keep loss of intonation
in check, which happens naturally as you play no matter what you do.
One more idea about detecting strums... I would use amplitude to do this...
many guitar players (myself included) rest their hand on the strings to mute
them and accidentally touching the pick to a string would happen all the
This is a really cool project, I'd love to be a part of it. Maybe jonathan
will let me do another blog post ;)

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