In an age where video games have made mincemeat out of playing the guitar, electrical engineer Dan Sullivan is bringing digital to the traditional with portable guitar Jamstik and mobile learning apps from Zivix.
While this means the Jamstik doesn’t look like a traditional guitar in any sense, playability is completely unhindered. Sullivan has gone through great pains to make sure that you can play the Jamstik as if you were playing a Fender. So much so that TechCrunch called it one of the coolest things at CES 2013, while Popular Science recently named it a top ten invention of the year.
Learning the guitar is a tediously slow process at best. Those who attempt to master this instrument often start on acoustics that make the most calloused fingers pray for reprieve.
Jamstik has been made possible through patented technology that senses your fingers using light; allowing the Jamstik to use real strings and frets. On top of that, nothing about the Jamstik requires you to sacrifice guitar playing norms. Strumming and picking are one in the same for both the Jamstik, and regular guitars. This is especially important for those who use Jamstik to learn, and later want to pick up a traditional guitar.
Currently, Jamstik works with iOS devices, and apps that support MIDI input. Connectivity is a cinch through either a cable, or Wi-Fi network that the Jamstik creates for itself. Android has been considered, but the wide array of devices has complicated the development process. This is mostly attributed to the lack of standardized input support, and issues with the Android sound engine.
While the Jamstik may find a home amongst digital natives, it comes at a price some may find difficult to swallow. At retail, the Jamstick is expected to sell for about $300 dollars, although the Jamstik on Indiegogo starts at $199. In addition, Jamstik also comes with complimentary apps that will teach you to play. Not bad, considering learning to play fake instruments on Rock Band costs $400 dollars.
With such a great idea, it is a wonder why Jamstik has decided to crowdsource instead of traditional funding. For Dan, it comes down to more than just money.
“With crowdsourcing, we can get feedback while there is still time, and correct course when necessary. Getting engagement with end users early on really creates a better product.”
Typically, hardware makers choose Kickstarter to crowdsource their projects. Instead, Jamstik went with Indiegogo. For Jamstik, it was easier to compete for attention on the Indiegogo platform. Thus far, this strategy seems to be working. Jamstik is over a quarter of the way to their $100k goal, with 20+ days remaining.
As the world becomes digital, it only makes sense that the guitar follows suit. While some traditionalists snub the idea of digitizing; it is an inevitable step that players of the future must take. With Dan, more capable hands could not be asked for to modernize such a wonderful instrument.