Student Highlight: Journey to the Guitano

Student Highlight: Journey to the Guitano

Humans have many dreams that they would love to see through 'til the end. Some similar, some different. Mine has been the Guitano. - Justin

Having been inspired by a variety of other inventions and ideologies from across the globe, the idea of a new instrument has always fascinated me ever since I started playing the piano in seventh grade. Choosing to continue to venture into the realm of music as I had graduated from grade to grade, I began to realize and understand that true music regardless of the genre has two main components. One is high and the other is low, just like the treble and bass clef indicates. When tenth grade came and Mrs Quamina had announced that we would all be given the opportunity to do a year-long personal project, I realized just then that the time had come and the doors for opportunity were inviting me in to start it all up, my dream, Project Guitano.

Since the beginning, the idea was to be able to play multiple instruments at once. I loved the ease of being able to press a piano key to get a corresponding note but I also liked how with a guitar and a guzheng, one can also strum a number of strings to play something completely different, with a different texture and a different hum. Taking these key features into consideration, I eventually decided that I wanted my instrument to have two sections. One is able to play like a piano and the other like a guzheng. However, this posed a major problem because I also wanted my instrument to be lightweight, and portable. From my perspective, there was no way I could call this idea a piano and a guzheng portable or original as yet. 

In the following months, I remember watching Youtube,  searching for ideas, and ways for it to work, when I stumbled across a well-known Youtuber/Tedx talker/Instrumentalist named Sami Elu, one of the few collaborators that helped guide me along, who was showcasing something marvellous, something which he invented, something called the Chopstick Piano. It was just what I had been looking for this whole time as it was similar to my envisioned idea of combining a piano with a variety of other instruments to fill most of the roles of a typical band. Using this as my inspiration, came forth the idea of the Guitano M1V1.To put it simply, it was a prototype which showcased a glimpse of my vision. A flipped-over guitar relied on the tapping guitar technique to be played on the bottom rather than having seventy-two plus strings and the fingerstyle technique for the top which allowed for all kinds of rhythms and melodies using just one hand. Following the M1V1 came the M2V1 which focused on improving the sound quality by switching out some of the attic plywood which was originally holding the instrument together for things such as a proper guitar body for more resonance etcetera. Currently,the project is close to its final stages before being possibly patented or maybe even sold. So far, I have been blessed to perform my own original composition with it called (A New Awakening) and I await the day when another dream is born and made into a reality, specifically, your dream.


Submitted by Justin Chin Lee
Kendra Sylvester-Flores
Topic: The Guitano
Class: Music