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The Circle Guitar: an innovative design that offers up impossible sounds

The Circle Guitar pushes guitar playing into “new, unexplored territories” with self plucking sequencer designed by Anthony Dickens.

Just when you thought the guitar couldn’t get any more wild, London based builder Anthony Dickens has come along with a crazy circular creation that takes the classic six-string design to the next level: the Circle Guitar.

Built over a two year period with the help of engineers from London’s Makerversity, this eccentric prototype can generate a range of sounds, textures and rhythms that would be “impossible with a conventional electric guitar“, says Dickens. Rather than a human hand striking the strings, a mechanical device performs the action which exceeds what be achieved with five fingers and a guitar pick.

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The style of the guitar is simple and slick with an ash body, a rosewood fretboard and laser-cut matte black acrylic pick-guard that covers the internal electronics. But how the hell does it actually work?

The motor-driven circle that spins around the pick-guard works essentially like a mechanical step sequencer that can rotate at up to 250 beats per minute! There are 128 holes on the disc in which to place a plectrum that is locked in place by magnets.

While the player frets notes and chords as expected, the player can choose how they wish to strike the strings by programming the circle using five colour-coded plectrum hardnesses. The variations of pick placement and strength of pluck create a broad range of tonal options for “a new kind of acoustically created, dynamic and rhythmic sound“.

The thing that excites Dickens the most abut the instrument is “how people will use it in their music and what kind of music they will create.” Watch the video below to see the guitar in action.