h a l f b a k e r y
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The idea would be for a guitar with pop-up frets that were activated by a chord-board. As with an autoharp, one would play the instrument by pressing a cord and strumming. On the autoguitar, however, the pop-up frets would change the pitch of strings as appropriate rather than selectively muting strings
(the instrument could have pop-up mutes as well for chords that don't use all six strings).
One advantage of such an instrument would be that, depending upon how the chords were activated, it may be possible to play a melody above the highest activated fret on a string; an autoharp, by contrast, does not allow one to play any note not in the depressed chord.
I don't know the best way to implement the thing mechanically, but I would expect it should be feasible, especialy if one were to use electric or electropneumatic actuators.
||How about just straight pneumatics? It could sound like a truck at a stoplight. Pshuueeessst! with each fret change.
||An interesting concept, but I'm trying to picture how you would press a chord button and play a melody at the same time, and I'm not managing it.
The advantage of the autoharp system is that it enables the playing of chords on far more strings than you have fingers, not really an issue on the guitar (unless you have very few fingers). If the intention is to simplify chording (like the auto-chording on some electronic keyboards), it's not really necessary; the guitar isn't that difficult to play (except for E-flat diminished ninth). If you intend to 'automate' more than the most basic chords, you'd need lots of buttons, what with all the inversions and so on.