Classical guitarist built a microtonal guitar from LEGO and it sounds beautiful

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Brilliant! It’s a little sad, but inventive, that he had to print his own bricks. I hope he has the sense to patent them. This could be a useful teaching aid, and may even generate musical compositions.


Very cool, although I wouldn’t call this “microtonal” music à la modernist composition: it’s really just using a different scale than the familiar Western pattern. Many traditional musics from around the world use a variety of interesting scales, but their steps are generally on the semitone–whole tone size scale; I wouldn’t call them “microtonal” unless they use very small intervals, which this Anatolian and Ottoman folk music doesn’t seem to. The guitar is microtonal, sure, because theoretically you could play very small intervals on it, but the guitarist isn’t doing that in the video.


Cool! By the way Debussy never wrote any microtonal compositions. You might be thinking of the fact he sometimes used the whole-tone scale (six notes equally spaced within the octave–this is attainable (in two ways) within the 12-tone system). People also talk about his interest in the Balinese gamelan ensemble, which was tuned differently – but he had no medium for writing similarly tuned music himself.


When I am playing my fretless banjo and don’t hit the fretboard on the note, I say I am playing microtonal.


Some Turkish maqams use quartertones. If you want an intro to maqams without a quartertone, try maqam shanaz in D (D, Eb, Gb, G, A, Bb).


Yeah I have a hard time calling this a LEGO guitar. The bulk of the “LEGO” parts are 3D printed and the only LEGO in use is just as filler. It would be more correct to call it LEGO inspired.


Pretty much required, though. Using standard bricks with the round nubbins acting as fret wires would cause epic buzzing.



I’d love to hear that. For a short try.

And then, I now want Lego to produce a set for building your own guitar. Including the body.
It does not need to be an acoustic guitar…

…but I would prefer it that way.

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Should the body be the usual plastic bricks, or made out of spruce, cedar, rosewood, etc.?

Well, I play classical guitar myself, and I’ve seen pictures of “Lego guitars” that are electric. Meh. You can build electric guitars out of anything, and people do. Sure, this thing has a proper wooden body, but the fretboard - ! That is where the complexity lies. I’m not trying to say there is no complexity in constructing a classical guitar body, but the fact that this is “only” a Lego fretboard in no way diminishes the accomplishment, for me.


Definitely no rosewood.

I’m really curious if there would be a way this wouldn’t sound awful. I suspect there would be some way…

I think you missed my point that it really isn’t a lego fretboard. It’s lego inspired, lego compatible, but the fretboard is 3d printed and the frets are 3d printed. The only actual lego in use is 1x plates. They easily could have just made the 3d printed fretboard thicker and completely eliminated the lego pieces completely. They serve no critical or integral purpose in the design. Now if the entire neck had been made with actual lego that would be a different situation. Figuring out how to make a playable neck out of lego that can resist the forces present without blowing to pieces would be pretty cool. That wasn’t what was done here though. On this build the lego is just decoration and serves only to draw eyeballs. It’s just as meh as the lego electric guitars, maybe more so because at least the guitar body serves a functional purpose on the lego electrics.

I would argue that using the Lego system (i.e. the printed pins to put the printed adjustable pieces on) is in itself a cool use of Lego.

You are right that it’s not an out-of-the-box Lego, but the idea itself (as told in the video) was using Lego. That’s good enough for me.

Never say never, but I feel like they would definitely trend toward “awful” for a guitar meant to be played truly acoustically (i.e., unamplified). Good electronics can hide a multitude of sins–I have a classic-electric I travel with (because it only cost $500), and run through my Fender Princeton Twin, it sounds way better than any $500 guitar has the right to sound. Unplugged…it’s not great.

There are carbon fiber guitars, and although they are certainly durable and much more forgiving of climate changes, the best thing I’ve heard most people say about them is, “This doesn’t sound horrible.” But again, they’re often gigging with them and plugging them in, not going for a pure acoustic sound. So maybe carbon fiber bricks would rise to the level of “not awful”?

Doubt that, since the body would need to carry resonance. And brickwork an resonance…

But still worth a try.

He had to, not only because he needs a sharper edge to cut down on buzzing, but because the spacing between the microtones is so much further apart on the frets near the headstock. Think about how much smaller the frets are on a guitar after the 12th fret when compared to the first fret.*

*literally half the size

Agreed. I’ve known a few maker-musicians who have made microtonal guitars, and they typically use movable nylon frets like on a viola da gamba. Not at all the same thing, and not nearly the same visual impact.

You can build electric guitars out of anything, and people do.

Have tested the limits of this. Made a “slide guitar” out of a glass bottle, some nails, a plank of wood, a 1/4" jack, 2 nickel-wound strings, and the guts of a rotary telephone. As you may expect, it sounded like absolute crap but I could bang out a recognizable “Louie Louie”.

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