Dr. Immel, Mr. Smith, Mr. Bowers
March 30, 2009
Convenience With Music ̶ The DG88
Guitars are a largely popular instrument throughout the world. The guitar as an
instrument can be applied to almost any genre of music, from any culture in the world.
Many musicians like to practice their instruments countless hours a day and with some
instruments it may be difficult to practice where you need to or where there is space.
Instruments such as pianos, organs, drums, and electric guitars may be hard to practice
anywhere other than where the equipment for said instrument is. While Piano's and
drums and other instruments may be difficult to practice elsewhere due to weight and
size issues electric guitars pose a different problem. Guitars are light, portable, and
small but if used anywhere there is not an amplifier the sound is barely audible and will
not sound as it will when used through an amplifier. I propose to create a guitar with a
built in amplifier and a flexible interface. This guitar would be a standalone practice
guitar with effects, amplification and speakers built in called the DG88.
Historic Overview of Music
Music is, by definition, a type of performing art in which sound is arranged over
time. Music brings together a multitude of elements and their corresponding styles of
portrayal of sound. The most common elements of music include rhythm, pitch, and
sonic texture. Rhythm is any series of measured sounds through time, pitch is the
frequency at which the sound resonates, and sonic texture and timbre deal with the
quality of a note, and variation in perception from the source of the sound.
Music is most often a product of sound created using musical instruments. A
musical instrument is anything that is constructed or modified for the use of music
making. Musical instruments utilize many different methods to emanate sound which
ranges from string, to wind, to percussion.
Development and definition of music changes drastically between cultures. Each
culture and sub culture and individual set their own defining line between music and
noise. Within each culture music is divided into genre's and sub genre's that define
different styles and forms of music. The significance of music diverges between
cultures. Within some cultures music is very important and held in high regards while
other cultures see it as merely a form of entertainment.
Prehistoric music can only be assumed to have originated around natural
sounds. It is suggested that singing or humming may be one of the first forms of music.
Percussion instruments/sounds such as clapping hands together, hitting stones together
or banging on hollow logs may have been some of the first musical instruments. The
oldest known instrument to date is a flute found in a Slovenian cave and dated back to
41,000 BCE. (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/276/5310/203g)
Ancient music is a term that describes the time period between prehistoric music
and early western cultures' music. Ancient music dates back as early as 4000 years ago
where the oldest known musical record was discovered written in cuneiform from Ur.
Flutes and some types of string instruments have been found from various dig sites in
Ur. Significant cultural music from China, India, and Ancient Greece root to the ancient
music era. India's Hindu scriptures include references to traditions that include music.
Greek culture and social aspects of life show music as being an important institute as
seen in their celebration, ceremonies, and theater. (http://www.experiencefestival.com/a/
Ancient music gave way to many of the first musical instruments as opposed to
the human body as an instrument (ie. clapping and singing). The first basic percussion
instruments such as rattles and drums are said to have been created due to human
impulses to add sound to movement such as dancing. Melody was only common in
singing and was not found with musical instruments. Early melodic instruments were
almost all drums or stampers. Eventually xylophones, different types of harps, and the
zither were created, all were forms of melodic instruments.
Early Music explains the time from the fall of Rome in the late 5th century to the
middle of the 18th century. This era spans a vast area of time and variation in musical
development and musical culture. It contains music from the Middle Ages, the
Renaissance, and the Baroque. Much of the early music from this time is Christian
music due to the suppression of non-Christian music by the Church.
Medieval music is comprised largely of Gregorian chant, named after Pope
Gregory I, which is plainsong used in churches for ritualistic purposes. In the 9th century
three major developments in music happened. The Church put its efforts into attempting
to unify chants and make Gregorian the standard, polyphonic music was first created,
and musical notation was reinvented making it exponentially easier to read and write
than it had been before. (http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/misc/whatis.htm)
In the late 9th century polyphonic music became more widely popular and many
schools formed around the ideas and musical composition of polyphony. Around 1200,
Santiago de Compostela was instituted, a school known as the “melting pot” for music.
It became the place to be if you were a musician in the late Middle Ages. Some sacred
secular music began to develop in the late 13th century which would resemble early
Renaissance secular song. These new forms of sacred music were very much a mixture
of folk music and religious texts. (http://www.medieval.org/emfaq/misc/whatis.htm)
Renaissance music began mainly in northern Europe as opposed to Italy where
most other art forms of the Renaissance were started. Around the mid 15th century the
Renaissance of music had spread all over Europe and there were many patrons and
composers of Renaissance music. As seen at the end of the Middle Ages composers
played polyphonic secular and sacred music.
When printing was invented during the Renaissance it created a much higher
flow of musical styles between European countries. During the Renaissance music
became increasingly more complex and stylized. Around the mid 16th century diverse
and defined styles of music became apparent. One was simplistic sacred musical
trends, another was complex trends especially with the chromatic scale, and another
was grandiose which was the first style to include orchestration of many instruments.
The end of the 16th century had all of Europe exploring, creating, and discovering
new forms of music, musical styles, and musical structures. England was writing new
sacred music progressing on the the simple sacred music they had in the mid 16th
century. Spain was developing vocals and instrumental styles and writing new
compositions for the guitar. Germany expanded on polyphonic composition. Italy was
working on one of the biggest turning points in the Renaissance. The wish was to
restore Ancient Greek music, the result was opera. Invention of opera gave way to the
end of the Renaissance and began the Baroque era.
Baroque, meaning “misshapen pearl,” was a period of classical European music.
Baroque was the era of some very well known composers such as Antonio Vivaldi and
Johann Bach. Music during this time period was very elaborate and basic lines built on
with complex strings of notes. During this period the size and range of orchestras
increased dramatically. The Baroque era is responsible for many concepts still used
today and influencing the direction and expansion of music.
Classical Music Era
The Classical music era is defined by the replacement of a singer by creating
melodies that could be the new focus of the music instead of a singer. Instrumental
music during the classical period replaced opera in short order. The classical music era
was the first era to use arpeggio's widely. Arpeggios were used to liven the musical
composition and simplify the music. The classical music era was largely centered
around the main figures of Wolfgang Mozart and Ludwig Von Beethoven.
Romantic music quickly followed classical and was the same except for a few
slight variations. Romantic music was more emotion filled and was more expressive and
again in the Romantic era there is a large size increase in orchestras.
The 20th century era of music was a very revolutionary time for music. Some
believe there has been more evolution in music in just the 20th century than in history
prior to the 20th century. The ability to record, distribute and listen to music outside of a
concert or performance changed music drastically. More people could listen to more
music and be exposed to all different styles more easily. With the invention of amplifiers
and synthesizers, music in the 20th century was more experimental and revolutionary. It
challenged traditionally accepted forms of music that had been in place prior.
Musical Instruments are any piece of equipment constructed or modified for use
in music making. Literally anything that can make any sound at all could be considered
a musical instrument but the term is used to describe things that are specifically used
for music. Musical instruments are usually classified by a few things: physical
properties, tone range, and its place in an orchestra. Ancient systems have instruments
divided into three (or four) categories: instruments where strings vibrate to create noise,
instruments where sound is created through vibrating air, and percussion instruments.
This can also be broken into two different types of percussion instruments, those that
use skins and drums and percussion instruments made of wood or metal. (Sibyl)
The most widely accepted system of classifying instruments is the Sachs-
Hornbostel system. This system classifies instruments in five groups: string, wind,
percussion where the object itself vibrates, percussion where a membrane vibrates, and
electronic. Range of musical tone is divided into five groups: soprano, which includes
flute, recorder, violin, trumpet. Alto, which includes alto saxophone, oboe, alto flute,
viola, and the horn. Tenor, which includes trombone, clarinet, and tenor saxophone.
Baritone, which includes bassoon, English horn, baritone saxophone, cello, and bass
clarinet. Bass, which includes contrabasoon, bass saxophone, and tuba. (Sibyl)
Musical instruments date back to prehistoric times. The earliest known musical
instrument is a flute that is dated back as far as 67,000 years. Drums and flutes are the
only known instruments later than 3000 BC. Around 3000 BC we start to see more
advanced flutes and drums, the first string instruments, the lyre and the harp, and a
sistra and cymbals. Approximately 1000 years later the first melodic instruments begin
to emerge which include the xylophone, the ground harp, ground zither, musical bow,
and jaw harp. Around 300 BC some Chinese writings talk about types of percussion
instruments like bells and chimes. The Chinese also introduced some percussion
instruments after that including clappers and troughs. There are no major changes in
musical instruments until around 10-50 AD when the first bagpipes, clarinets, barrel
drums, cross flutes, and lutes are believed to have been made. Other than better ways
to produce higher quality instruments and better improve their sound no major creations
or advancements in instruments were made until the invention of the guitar in the mid to
late 16th century, the harpsichord in the 17th century, and the piano in the 18th century.
Electronic and Electric Instruments
Electronic instruments differ from electric instruments in the way they produce
sound. An electronic instrument is an instrument which produces sound by means of
electric functions, where as an electric instrument is an instrument which makes its
sound mechanically and is merely amplified electronically. The first electric instrument
was an electric guitar built by Rickenbacker in 1931. Electronic instruments are
synthesizers, electric keyboards, and electric organs.
History of String Instruments
A string instrument is any instrument that uses the vibration of strings to create
sound for musical purposes. The oldest form of string instrument dates back to Africa
almost 20,000 years ago where they used a single string stretched across a bow and
plucked it to make music. This design was the only string instrument until about 5000
years ago when the first lyres and harps were invented. The harp and lyre were the first
string instruments to use multiple strings in the design.
A few hundred years after the first harps and lyres, a guitar like design of a
wooden box with strings was created. Thousands of years after, around the 11th and
12th centuries the Vielle and Rote were invented. The Vielle is an instrument that
resembles a violin but uses five strings instead of four and is longer, and the rote is a
boxlike instrument with five strings. In the years following many designs with higher
complexity were added to the field of musical instruments. (http://ezinearticles.com/?
In the 16th century the Harpsichord was invented which was a piano-like
instrument where the key would pluck the string as opposed to hitting it. The 17th
century brought about the modern guitar design, and with it a lot of flexibility in sound to
the world of music. The last major breakthrough in musical instrument history before
electronic instruments was the piano. The piano was invented in the 18th century and
used keys to hammer the string creating flowing loud notes. (http://ezinearticles.com/?
History of Guitars
A guitar is a musical instrument classified as a string instrument and can have
anywhere from four strings to eighteen strings although they generally have six strings.
There are two major types of guitars, electric and acoustic. An acoustic guitar has a
hollow body and the sound resonates inside the body changing and amplifying the
sound. An electric guitar is usually solid bodied and requires pickups and an amplifier to
make sound easily audible. Guitars are generally constructed using different types of
woods or a combination of wood and metal. The guitar is a popular instrument used in
many forms of music including jazz, blues, country, flamenco, mariachi, rock, and pop.
Ancestor's to the guitar originated with harps and lutes around 5000 years ago.
Thousands of years after the harp and lute, through many developments and
progression in musical instrument making which include many instruments like the sitar,
the guitar came along. The guitar was invented in Spain around the mid or late 16th
century. The guitar remained acoustic and followed the same basic shape and size
pattern until 1931 when the first electric guitar was invented.(http://www.guyguitars.com/
The first electric guitar was made by Rickenbacker in the early 1930's to respond
to the need for amplified guitars used in jazz and big bands. The first few were made
with a single coil pickup and were small round frying pan like bodies with a guitar neck
coming off of it. Les Paul, a musician and inventor of the time, invented the first solid
body wood guitar with a 4x4 piece of wood and an acoustic neck and patented the idea
in 1941. In 1946 Clarence Leonidas Fender designed the first Fender guitar and made
history with the first successful solid body electric guitar. Fender continued to improve
the design with cost effectiveness and replacement/repair ability in mind. In 1954
Fender produced the original Stratocaster.
The majority of modern guitars are six string guitars, either acoustic or electric,
and made mostly from wood and have approximately fifteen parts (or so depending on
Parts include the headstock, nut, machine heads, frets, truss rod, inlays, neck, body,
pickups, electronics, bridge, pickguard, strings, and fretboard.
The headstock is the piece that holds the machine heads and the nut. It is at the very
end of the neck furthest away from the guitar. The machine heads are the tuning
mechanisms. The nut is the piece that the strings sit in, between the bridge and the
tuning mechanisms. Frets are the pieces of metal that protrude from the neck
horizontally at a set scale of intervals and when the string is pressed down on the fret it
will make a defined note. The truss rod is a metal rod held inside the neck at a tension
to keep the neck straight under stress and warping. Inlays on a guitar are anything laid
under the finish or into the wood, most often they are placed at the odd numbered frets
and the twelfth fret but often skips the eleventh fret. The neck is the where all the
elements the truss rod, fretboard, tuners, headstock, and nut are constructed together.
The body of the guitar is a few pieces of solid wood for an electric, or a few pieces of
thin wood that create a hollow cavity for an acoustic. The body contains the electronics,
pickups, pickguard, and bridge. The pickups are coiled wire and a magnet that changes
mechanical energy into electrical energy with the string vibrations. The electronics
include variable resistors that control tone and volume and the switch that controls
which pickups are in use. The bridge is the base where the strings are held. The
pickguard is mainly a cosmetic feature on a guitar to protect from scratches on the
guitar body. The strings are the piece that vibrate causing the pickups to work in an
electric guitar or creating a vibration of air over the airhole in an acoustic guitar. The
fretboard is where the frets are embedded.
The types of wood used in guitars varies from guitar to guitar but the most
common woods used in electric guitars are maple, basswood, ash, poplar, alder, and
mahogany. In an acoustic guitar the most popular woods are spruce and red cedar.
Modification of the Electric Guitar
Musicians have always felt the need to practice or write music while away from
their studio or place where proper equipment is. This can be difficult for musicians who
play instruments such as the piano or electric guitar. The piano is obviously too big to
transport easily and although an electric guitar is easy enough to transport amplification
is needed for proper audibility and manipulation of the sound. Most would ask why they
wouldn't just use an acoustic guitar to practice elsewhere but the simple fact is that
acoustic and electric guitars have different feels and playability. This poses the problem
of how to get the electric feel and play style out of a portable guitar that uses no external
amplification. To install an amplifier and speaker inside the guitar and make the
amplifier's interface more flexible as far as manipulation of sound is concerned would be
the solution to the problem.
The Problem and Solution
The problem posed by an electric guitar is a convenience issue. To practice
anywhere at any time you not only need the guitar but you need the amplifier, cables,
and often a power supply. For more intense and flexible practicing you also need effects
pedals and processors. The proposed solution is to install within the constraints of a
normal guitar an amp, speakers, and effects processor along with a power source
(batteries) to create a standalone electric guitar that is portable and that fits all
Products of Similar Nature
The idea of a guitar with a built in amplifier has been made and produced by
Fender guitars through Squier. The Squier Mini Player is a decent guitar with a built in
amp but it has a few problems and downsides that our product adresses. Not only does
our product fix the problems that the Squier Mini Player creates but it also overshadows
the Squier by doing a better job where the Squier was already decent. The Squier's
problems include crackly and poor sound from the speaker, short battery life, no
flexibility in sound processing, a scaled down body and neck, and only one low quality
humbucker at the bridge. (http://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i-FEN-0300105-LIST)
The speakers are poor quality speakers that when used too loudly will crackle
and distort producing horrible sound quality. The Squier Mini Player runs all the
electronics on a single 9 volt battery. A single 9 volt battery will die after approximately
30 minutes of play at maximum volume because it carries a high voltage but the
amperage is not very high. The Squier limits your tone control to the variable resistors
connected to the pickups and offers no digital signal processing (effects processors).
The Squier is a scaled down (¾ size) model of the Fender Stratocaster, this makes the
neck and body more cramped for playing as opposed to a full sized guitar. The Squier
only has one humbucker pickup at the bridge and many musicians depend on the neck
pickup. The pickup that the guitar uses is also a low quality pickup which in turn creates
less favorable sound. (http://www.americanmusical.com/Item--i-FEN-0300105-LIST)
The First Act Rocks V-Dubs is a guitar that is somewhat similar. This guitar
includes a built in pre-amplifier and a few vintage amp settings. This product includes no
built in speakers so it requires an external speaker but no external amplifier.
How Our Product is Different
Simply put every aspect of the DG88 is better quality than that of any similar
products. The two similar products that exist today are the Squier Mini Player and the
First Act Rocks V-Dubs. These two products cannot match ours in sound quality, part
quality, or playability.
Comparison Between Parts
Speakers- The DG88 contains 2, 3” speakers placed for the least amount of
interference in playing. The two speaker design allows our sound to run in stereo,
instead of mono. This increases the sound quality, range, value and clarity.
The Squier Mini Player contains a single 2.5” speaker that produces about 65%
of our speakers loudness and 50% of the clarity and sound value. The use of a single
speaker allows the amp to play mono which makes the sound more distorted and
The First Act Rocks V-Dubs guitar has no built in speaker relying on an external
speaker to make any noise.
Amplifier- The DG88 uses a powerful 9 volt amplifier with tone, gain, and volume
controls. The tone and drive settings allow for more of a range in sound control and
drive. The setting for volume control limits current to the amplifier which allows lower
volume to correspondingly use lower amounts of power.
The Squier Mini Player uses a smaller less powerful amplifier with no volume,
tone or drive controls. This restricts the tone and volume control to only the the pickup
variable resistors. The lack of an amplifier volume control also means that the amp is
always drawing maximum power just to be on.
The First Act Rocks V-Dubs uses a weak pre-amp which is enough to power an
external speaker relatively softly (approximately 30% of our speakers loudness).
Battery Life- The DG88 uses six AA cell batteries connected to the effects
processor and amplifier. The six AA's create the 9 volts needed to power the amp and
processor but the AA's give more amperage than 9 volts would, giving more battery life.
Not only do the AA's provide longer battery life (reducing the amount of replacements
needed) but they cost less than 9 volt battery cells.
The Squire Mini Player uses a single 9 volt battery which provides a very short
amount of play time (approximately 30 minutes of hard play). The 9 volt cells will cost
more than the AA cells and they need to be replaced more often.
The First Act Rocks V-Dubs uses a single 9 volt to power the pre-amp. The
battery life is decent with this guitar when you hook it up to a speaker but loudness is
sacrificed for this.
Effects Processing- The DG88 uses a top of the line Korg Pandora PX2 Digital
Sound Processor. There are 38 preset equalizers and 65 effects processors, and it has
built in drum programs to jam along with.
The Squier Mini Player lacks any digital sound processing.
The First Act Rocks V-Dubs has two vintage amp presets to play through the
speakers you plug into.
Size- The DG88 is a standard Squire Stratocaster full size guitar (25.5”, 648mm
scale length). The normal size allows normal movement around the fretboard and gives
the overall feeling of a standard guitar.
The Squier Mini Player is a ¾ scale guitar (22.75”, 575mm scale length). The
smaller size reduces the playability and changes the feel of the guitar.
The First Act Rocks V-Dubs is a full size guitar (25.5”, 648mm scale length).
Pickups- The DG88 utilizes two DiMarzio Evolution humbucker pickups, one
neck and one bridge. The Sound from DiMarzio Evolution humbuckers is a more crisp,
tight sound as compared to an average Fender stock humbucker.
The Squier Mini Player uses a single Fender stock bridge humbucker. The
Fender stock humbucker creates more unwanted hum in the speakers and the tone is
much more dull and plain than a Dimarzio Evolution humbucker. The use of a single
bridge pickup limits the tone control and pickup placement choice.
The First Act Rocks V-Dubs uses two humbuckers at the neck and bridge.
Sound Control- The DG88 provides sound control on three levels. First the post
pickup controls that control tone and volume, second the digital effects processor's tone,
effects and volume control, and third the amplifier's tone, gain, and volume control.
The Squier Mini Player provides one level of volume and tone control which is
simply the post pickup tone and volume controls.
The First Act Rocks V-Dubs also has one level of sound control at the post pickup
The process for making the guitar included many steps.
Preparing the body
Step 1: Remove all electronics and face plates from the squire as well as the neck and
bridge leaving only the wood body of the
Step 2: Grind/sand down all the lacquer,
paint and primer to the wood.
Step 3: Mark the body in pencil for all the
cuts that are to be made. The body was
marked for the speakers (Img GP1 #1),
Pandora's box (Img GP1 #2), the amplifier
(Img GP1 #3), and the headphone/power jack (Img GP1 #4).
Cutting the body
(All routing was done using a 1/4” diameter 1” long router bit.)
Step 4: Cutting the speaker holes (all cuts apply to both speaker holes, #1 on graphic
GP1). To cut the holes we made a jig out of a 1/8” piece of steel for cutting from the
back and a piece of coated particle board for the front. The first cut was a 70mm
diameter 3/8” deep cut from the front of the guitar setting a hole slightly smaller than the
speaker. Then a hole 77mm was taken from the back 1 1/8” deep. Holes were then
drilled from where the speaker hole is to the spaces for the pickups to allow wiring.
Step 5: Cutting the hole for Pandora's box (#3 on graphic GP1). The hole was cut 5.5 x
2.5“ and 1” deep. The jig setup was a flat bar placed the exact distance away from the
base of the router to force it to stop on one side then moved for the four sides. The
bottom of the hole was routed down the middle lengthwise, 3/16” deeper to allow room
for the speakers and a spot for the DC input was cut as well. A 5/16” hole was drilled
through the Pandora location to the hole for the variable resistors on the pickguard.
Step 6: Pandora's faceplate. Pandora's faceplate indentation was routed 1/8” deep and
1/4” out from Pandora's hole.
Step 7: Cutting the hole for the amplifier (#2 on graphic GP1). The hole for the amplifier
was freehand routed around an area traced by the amplifier's silhouette. The hole was
routed 1.48” deep then a hole was drilled 1/4” through the amp hole to the variable
resistor compartment under the pickguard.
Step 8: Cutting the hole for the headphone/output/power supply jack (#4 on graphic
GP1). We cut a flat where #4 is then routed it down until we broke through to Pandora.
Step 9: Wiring Pandora. Pandora used two, ¼” jacks that were wired from the pickup
output to the input of Pandora, and Pandora's output was wired to the Amplifier. The DC
in was wired to a DC jack then wired to the DC Battery pack.
Step 10: Wiring the body. All leads were run to appropriate spots and soldered in place.
Step 11: Shield all wires.
Final installation and cosmetics.
Step 12: Placing face plates. All faceplates were screwed down or fastened
Step 13: Putty the body with a lacquer putty.
Step 14: Sand the putty to a smooth undercoat.
Step 15: Paint the body with a dark primer coat.
Step 16: Paint the body with five coats of lacquer paint allowing each dry at least ten
hours in between.
Step 17: Finish with a clear lacquer.
Drill Phillips drill bit Router 1/4” diameter x 1” length router bit
Dial Caliper 20 gauge wire Soldering iron
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