In 5th grade, my elementary school had a music workshop where we got to try different instruments. Some instruments were very frustrating because I couldn't make a sound no matter how hard I tried. However, one teacher taught me how to play a song right away on the violin. The feeling of creating meaningful music was exhilarating and started me on my path of both music and engineering. I now play jazz saxophone and am finishing a degree in Materials Science and Engineering.
Since music education is become more scare, this project aims to excite first-time guitarists about jazz by enabling them to play a blues the first time they pick up a guitar. The "Blues Guitar Aid" is a plastic piece that clips on to the end of a guitar and allows the guitarist to easily form the chords of a 12-bar blues in A. The musician simply presses down on a plastic piece, and the pads contact the guitar strings in the proper places to create each chord. A demonstration of the device is here. Once musicians successfully play their first blues, they can use the device to visualize where their fingers should be placed to create the chords on their own.
Why the blues? The 12-bar blues is one of the first "truly American" forms of music and is a gateway to learning many amazing songs. It is simple to start and has many variations of increasing complexity. The most basic form of the 12-bar blues plays the following chords:
I7 | I7 | I7 | I7 |
IV7 | IV7 | I7 | I7 |
V7 | IV7 | I7 | I7 |
The "I" indicates that the chord is built from the root or base note of a 8-note major scale ("do" of "do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do"). The IV indicates that the chord is built from the fourth note of the scale ("fa"), and the "V" indicates that the chord is built from the fifth note of the major scale ("so"). The "7" signifies a dominant chord with a flat seventh. You can go here for more information on the blues and dominant chords. In the key of A, the 12-bar blues is as follows:
A7 | A7 | A7 | A7 |
D7 | D7 | A7 | A7 |
E7 | D7 | A7 | A7 |
I printed this device with just of 15 grams of PLA for a total cost of approximately $0.35. In addition to this device, there is a commercialized plastic device that helps teach the country/pop/rock chords of G, em, C, and D. This device can be found commercially here for $24.99.
I hope you enjoy learning the blues on guitar, and please provide any feedback or improvements you may think of!