'Chameleon Guitar' becomes any guitar you want

Buy one guitar, play dozens.

Amit Zoran
Amit Zoran shows off the Chameleon Guitar, along with a variety of the interchangeable soundboards. Webb Chappell Photography/MIT

Guitars with electronics built in are hardly new. Most people are familiar with standard electric guitars, but Takamine and other companies started putting in equalizers and other sound-shaping gear in the '80s and '90s.

MIT's Chameleon Guitar, however, goes a few steps further, incorporating a full computer, as well as a small soundboard that can be interchanged with other soundboards made of a different wood or a different material altogether.

The sound generated by the electronic pickups on that board can be manipulated by the computer to produce the effect of a different size or shape of the resonating chamber. By putting extra acoustic modules together, the guitar can mimic any other guitar and practically any other instrument.

It's a neat idea, to be sure, but it might prove too complex for the everyday user. The everyday user, though, isn't who creator Amit Zoran likely had in mind for the unique piece. He envisions a production model for professional musicians that features quick-changing components, allowing the player to change the instrument live during a performance.

It's an ambitious task, but Zoran's a graduate student at MIT's Media Lab, so he's probably up to the challenge. Who knows, we might start seeing the five-pickup-wielding Chameleon onstage soon. And it even looks good. Check a video of the thing in action after the jump.

About the author

    With more than 15 years experience testing hardware (and being obsessed with it), Crave freelance writer Matt Hickey can tell the good gadgets from the great. He also has a keen eye for future technology trends. Matt has blogged for publications including TechCrunch, CrunchGear, and most recently, Gizmodo. Matt is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CBS Interactive. E-mail Matt.

     

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