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So, obviously the OpenChord project is pretty much over. However, I'm starting up a new project/video game! More details on the blog.

- 27 September 2010 -

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  • Instead of playing Guitar Hero®/Rock Band® with a controller that simply looks like a guitar, you can now play on the real deal – moving your fingers along the strings of a real guitar, making real chords, strumming with a real pick. Which makes playing your favorite guitar-based game so much more rewarding. What separates the V1 guitar controller from any other controller out there is that you can plug it into an amp and it works just as any other electric guitar would, meaning you can go directly from rocking out with a real band to rocking out in Rock Band®.

    The V1 guitar controller is compatible with your PC/Mac, the Sony Playstation 3®, and the Nintendo Wii®, so you only have to buy one guitar for all those systems.  The guitar works with Frets on Fire,  Rock Band® and Guitar Hero®. And since the firmware running on the guitar is re-programmable via USB, you’ll be able to upgrade your guitar’s functionality as we develop further.

    We’re currently taking pre-orders for the V1 guitar.  Something we didn’t realize was that we need to get our guitar FCC certified before we can sell it in the US.  This means that while the hardware is basically done, we still need to get it tested, a process that takes about a week, but also costs like $2000.  So in order to raise a bit of cash towards that, we’re taking pre-orders in exchange for a $20, completely refundable deposit.   If you’re interested, check out our Buy page, or e-mail us at . We’re also currently offering the V1 in a kit, allowing you to easily build your own! All you need to supply is a guitar, some wire, and a little solder – we’ve taken care of programming the chip, printing the circuit board, and all the rest of the time-consuming and expensive steps of electronic manufacture.

    The Basic V1 Firmware

    The V1 supports 3 distinct play modes to help you practice guitar skills at any level:

    Fret Mode – Play the guitar like a regular guitar controller, where pressing any string on the first fret is a Green button press, any press on the second fret is a Red button press, and so on.  This mode is the easiest to use, and helps you build your finger strength and gets you used to the fretboard.

    Note Mode – Map individual notes on the fretboard to the colored buttons and use the V1 to practice learning note positions and even learn to play along with the songs.  The default mapping assigns the buttons cyclically to the notes on a B flat scale, but each button color can be user-mapped to up to 6 notes,  so you can program in whatever notes you want to practice, or maybe the actual notes being played in your guitar game of choice.

    Chord Mode – Practice chord transitions by playing video games. With Chord mode, you can map each button to a separate chord fingering, so you can use the rhythm and challenge of a guitar game to work on learning chord transitions naturally and fluently.

    In all the play modes, you strum by touching (or strumming) the metallic wired pick against any string.

    The V1 is an open-source, open-hardware device.  We make them, and we want you to make them.  Instructions are available on Instructables, and the source code is freely available on Google Code. Currently, these instructions are a little outdated; in the next few days, I’ll be updating them with instructions for how to build the Wii version of the V1.

    For more information about the OpenChord V1, or for general questions, please e-mail Thanks!