A Platform for Manipulation and Examination of the Acoustic Guitar: The Chameleon Guitar

Oct. 11, 2011


Amit Zoran, Stephen Welch, William D. Hunt


A platform for manipulation and examination the acoustic guitar is presented, based on a novel guitar design – the Chameleon Guitar – featuring a replaceable acoustic resonator functioning as the soundboard of the instrument. The goal of the design process is to create a tone as sonically close to that of a traditional guitar as possible, while maintaining an easily replaceable soundboard. An iterative, data driven approach was used, each design step coming under examination from one or more measurement tools: finite-element method, acoustic impulse testing, and laser vibrometry. Ideal resonator geometry, bridge location, and piezoelectric sensor positions were determined. The finished instrument was then examined with laser vibrometry to confirm earlier results, evaluate the behavior and chosen sensor positions for various tonewoods, and examine the acoustic effects of adding sensors and wax finish. The conclusions drawn are diverse and point to the significance of attention to detail in each step of instrument construction. For example, when changing instrument material from one softwood to another, ideal locations for piezoelectric sensors are subject to change. We conclude that detailed acoustic analysis can significantly aid in the construction of new instruments by quantifying the impact of instrument geometry and material properties.

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