The objective here is to really
make learning how to play the guitar not only painless, but dramatically easier
than it traditionally has been.
How the Idea Came to Be
When I first attempted to learn to play guitar, I wasn’t
successful. It was a frustrating
experience and I was very disappointed – I was sure I was going to become at
least a decent casual guitar player.
Before I retired, my occupation took me into many private
homes. And a surprising number of times
I’d spot a guitar in those homes, sitting on a guitar stand in front of a
fireplace or leaning in a corner, and I’d say, “Oh…do you play?” Well it turned out there weren’t many guitar
players in those homes. The answers I’d
get were, “Oh…I used to” or, “I fool around a little” or, “no, not really.” Being a failed guitar player myself I’d pursue
those conversations and invariably I’d find I was talking to folks pretty much
like myself. They’d really wanted to
play the guitar but they’d become frustrated and disappointed and ended up
setting their guitars aside. But they
hadn’t gotten rid of their guitars because they still wanted to play
guitar. And I learned that the reasons
they had become discouraged from continuing to try learning guitar were exactly
the same reasons I’d given up in my efforts.
1.Their fingers very quickly became sore after
very little practice.
2.They found it quite difficult to properly form
the various chords you have to learn when first taking up the guitar.
So two thoughts came to mind:
1.There are a lot of disappointed “would be”
guitar players out there.
be an easier way.
Well, I was right about the first thought…but I was wrong
about the second thought – there was no “easier” way – I learned that by
scouring the internet and visiting music stores. Now my third thought was, “Well, there ought
to be an easier way,” which brings me to the Finger Friendly Guitar Company Keyboard.
The Issue of Sore Fingers
If you press your soft little finger tips repeatedly down on
hard, narrow steel stings – they’re going to become sore – there’s no way
around it. The only existing advice from
guitar instructors is, “Well you just have to play through the pain long enough
to develop callouses on your fingertips” – and of course, that’s true. But number one, I don’t want to “play through
the pain” and number two, if you start to learn guitar and then stop playing
for a little while, the callouses go away.
Then when you pick up the guitar again you have to “play through the
pain” all over again. I didn’t want to
play the guitar so relentlessly that the callouses would never go away – I
wanted to play when the mood struck me and in a sort of casual manner.
The Finger Friendly solution was to eliminate the necessity
of those soft finger tips having to press down on those hard, narrow strings by
creating a keyboard (not unlike a computer keyboard) so the player can press
down on the key in order to play the string.
Your fingers simply don’t get sore any more – no matter how long you
play or how infrequently you play.
This Challenge of Playing Chords
Well, the strings are too darn close together, even for average
sized fingers like mine and for people with thick fingers, forget about
it! To add to the problem of playing
clean chords, no matter how large the area above the fret is, the string has to
be depressed rather close to the fret in order to produce the proper
sound. If you push the string down too
far away from the fret you get a bad result – a buzzing. Half of the area above the fret turns out to
be “wasted” space – it isn’t really “useable.” So now the effective playing area for the
string are really close
So this is how Finger Friendly Guitar Keyboard eliminates the problem
of those strings being too darn close together:
We take our keys, which eliminate your sore finger problem, and position
them in such a way as to take advantage of all that “wasted” space above the
fret. We “stack” the keys which play the
strings. The keys which play the one,
three and five strings take up that heretofore “wasted” space so that the keys
give your fingers a very large target area to play the string. But the tip of the key (which makes contact with
the strings) is very small and
depresses the string close enough to the fret to produce a clean sounding note
or chord. The keys which play the two,
four and six strings give you that same very large target while those smaller
tips depress the strings exactly at the fret.
Once again – good, clean sounding notes and chords.
And see what it enables you to do; you can play the one and
three strings with only one finger – something you cannot do when playing
guitar without a finger friendly keyboard; even the one, three, and five stings
– only one finger. And, of course, the
same concept holds true for the two and four strings and even the two, four and
six strings. You have a very large
target to play each string and you can’t touch a string you don’t intend to touch
– perfect, painless chords every time.
And finally, thumb levers.
Most folks can’t play the strings of a guitar with their thumbs. Now some very accomplished guitar players can
manage to play the sixth string by wrapping their thumb around the guitar neck
– but for the average Joe it just isn’t going to happen – unless…you’ve got a Finger Friendly Keyboard attached to the neck
of your guitar! The thumb levers allows
you to play the sixth string and even the fifth string with the thumb; in fact
you can even play them both at the same time using your thumb.
How It Works
The keyboard quickly and easily attaches to any standard six
string acoustic or electric guitar. Two
patches of easily removable Velcro placed on the back of the neck of your
guitar, and it straps firmly into place, ready to play, with absolutely no harm
to your guitar. If you’ve got more than
one guitar just transfer the keyboard – easy as pie. And, of course, you can tune your guitar with
the keyboard attached.
The Finger Friendly Guitar Company Keyboard is the one and
only invitation for everybody to join
the guitar playing party. Now it’s not
likely to turn you into the next Eric Clapton, but most of us simply want to
play a nice, decent sounding guitar. So
when we’re sitting around on a Sunday morning playing our guitars they’ll be a
chance that that significant other in our lives will walk by and say, “Geez
honey, that sounds nice!”
What We Need
The Finger Friendly Guitar Company Keyboards you’ve seen in
this video are 3D printer created prototypes.
In order to mass produce the parts which make up the keyboard it
requires injection molds – a lot of them – a very expensive proposition. If Kickstarter nation will help put the Finger
Friendly Guitar Company keyboard in the marketplace I’d love to send you one at
a delightful discount or even one free of charge.
Thanks for watching my video. I love this invention – and I think you will
Risks and challenges
All but one risk has been eliminated. A problem was identified, a solution was created, a patent was awarded. The final unanswered question is, "Am I correct in assuming that a significant number of other folks will see the keyboard as an appealing solution to learning guitar?" If I'm right, happy days! If I'm wrong, I'll make enough keyboards to thank my Kickstarter supporters and then wander on down to the Nice Try Saloon.
Finding an injection molding manufacturer willing and able to take on this project - very tight tolerances! Went through five "we'll pass" vendors before hitting pay dirt.
We haven't yet personally mastered the art of injection molding so the tricky (and costly) part of creating the keyboard is in the hands of others. Fortunately the plastics manufacturer we've chosen to work with has proven their expertise and reliability by delivering the main structure plates (to which all other parts are affixed) precisely formed and right on schedule; all the remaining parts (final samples) are scheduled to be shipped for final approval by 6/12/14 with production parts to be shipped not later than 7/12/14 - no reason to expect they will not be as reliable as they have been to date. That leaves assembly, packaging and shipping in our own hands - which makes us feel pretty well in control of keeping our rewards promise.
A capo design for the Finger Friendly Keyboard has been completed, but we are awaiting the completion of the initial production run of the keyboard before embarking on adding this accessory. Our plan is to be able to offer a Finger Friendly Capo within six months of the keyboard being available to the market.
Keys which are either horizontally or vertically adjacent can be played with only (the same) one finger. This creates many "shortcuts" which ease the difficulty of chord formation. And, of course, the thumb levers offer additional flexibility in forming chords.