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gTar: The Guitar That (Almost) Plays Itself

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In the past 15 years or so, you could say that there have been some interesting developments for the budding guitar players of the world. The rise of the Internet led to sites that were databases for tablature, an easier alternative to reading music. In addition, the rise of rhythm games like "Guitar Hero" or "Rock Band" ignited a new interest in the instruments (it also helped when "Rock Band" introduced "Pro Mode," something that more directly mirrors playing a real instrument). But a new project on Kickstarter called gTar is sparking a flurry of fundraising and backers, to the sweet tune of $150,000 raised in a single day.

The all-digital gTar is a guitar with an iPhone dock (accepting iPhone 4 and 4S) built into the guitar’s body. When plugged in, you can load up the gTar app and begin an experience that seemingly will take amateur guitar playing to an entirely new level. The app comes preloaded with a library of songs, with creators Incident taking suggestions and adding new songs every week. In addition, a rewards tier comes with a prize where you can directly give Incident a song to add to the gTar platform. Apart from guitar, you can customize the sounds coming out of the device to sound like anything from a funky synth to a grand piano -- it’s even equipped with a mode where you can tweak effects like echo, reverb and distortion. Additionally, because it's digital the guitar never needs to be tuned.

For actually learning songs, gTar splits the process into three levels: easy, medium and hard, aided by LED indicators lighting up across the gutiar’s fretboard. In the initial easy mode the user will only need to play open strings, while moving up to medium means playing open strings while adding some frets at the same time. Hard mode assumes the user has a strong grasp on the songs and lights up the correct notes but also allows the user to play freely and improvise on top. SmartPlay is enabled for the first two difficulty modes, a feature that mutes any incorrect notes played, removing the incessant frustration that can arise when novice guitar players are just beginning and making a few mistakes.

The group behind the gTar, Incident, are based in Santa Clara, Calif., and began with the tinkering of Idan Beck in his parents basement in Cupertino. The team has now expanded to five members that have been working on the gTar since 2009.

"I started playing guitar around the age of 10, and around 16 or 17 started to teach other kids," Beck said in the gTar Kickstarter video. "I wanted to be able to take what I learned as a guitarist and transfer that into using a computer to produce music. The great thing about the gTar is that it lets people have a hands-on, immersive experience.”

With 31 days of fundraising left, the gTar has already blown by its original fundraising goal of $100,000, with $220,000 raised at the time of this writing. With 581 backers to the tune of $220,000 raised, that’s nearly $379 donated per person. The gTar’s instant success recalls another recent Kickstarter success story of the Pebble Smartwatch, a project that ended up raising over $10 million.

The Incident group says that the gTar will retail for around $449 and they are hoping to begin shipping in the fall.

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