FREDDY is a device that facilitates fretting and chord progressions for electric and acoustic guitar players with ranging abilities. This assistive device was developed to encourage a proactive approach to mobility through music-making.
Opportunity & Research
Participation in music-related activities enhances physical, mental, and social wellbeing. However, playing most musical instruments requires a certain level of physical ability. String instruments such as the guitar require dexterity, precision, and strength. Callusing on the fingertips is often developed due to the hardness of the strings.
This can be difficult to accomplish when people experience changes in their physical mobility. Of the many conditions and symptoms that can affect one’s ability to make music, many relate to aging. Aging brings about many physical and social changes and challenges. Common conditions that affect one’s ability and willingness to make music include arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
A decline in physical ability is often a determining factor in the reduction of participation in music-related activities over time. A proactive approach to encouraging the adoption and continuation of participation in music-related activities optimizes the short- and long-term benefits.
This assistive device was developed to facilitate guitar-playing for anyone who may be experiencing challenges with mobility that affect their guitar-playing.
The device consists of two main components:
The first is the playing module, which is the main interaction device. This module consists of an offset “neck”, where the user plays as they would without the device–the difference is that the elasticated strings require minimal force to press down. Capacitive sensors on this offset fretboard translate the signals to solenoids, which press the guitar strings down.
The second component is the bracket mounting system, which secures the playing module in place without damaging or altering the guitar. This bracket also allows users to slide the playing module back and forth to hit notes between frets 1 through 6 or 7 (depending on the guitar model).
The device must first be mounted on the user’s guitar neck. The internal bracket system allows for the device to be used on most standard-sized guitar necks. The steps to set up the device are shown below. Once the device is set up, it can be kept on the neck even when stored.
This device utilizes capacitive touch on the offset neck module, which allows users to press down the strings with much less strength. These send signals to the PCB, which tells which push-pull solenoids to press down which guitar string. The ridges along the sides of the offset neck provide the user with better control of the module as it slides along the neck.
Modes: Mode 1
Once the device is set up, the user must turn it on via the power button. They must then choose the mode. To adapt to varying abilities, the device has two modes.
The first mode (automatic when turned on) allows the user to play on the device as they would on a traditional guitar, but by pressing down on the strings of the offset neck and strumming or plucking the strings with their other hand.
Modes: Mode 2
The second mode allows the user to play a full chord by simply pressing the root note of the chord. Once this root note is pressed, it activates the other notes needed to complete the chord. For example, an A chord requires 3 separate notes to be held down. This mode allows the user to only press down one note–the root note, an A–to achieve a full chord. The chip on the PCB is programmed to recognize the root notes of common chords. This can be used by a user with reduced mobility, a learner who can not or is not comfortable formulating and/ or pressing down on chords, or anyone who would like assistance.
The Final Form
THE DESIGN PROCESS
A Google Forms survey titled "Mobility Through Music-Making" was conducted from November to December 2021. A total of 84 people responded to the survey's 14 questions. A summary of the results is pictured below.
Prototypes & Testing
Below is a progression of prototypes that were developed throughout the design process.
The Visual Model: Process
The Final Visual Model