My Robot Guitar Player

My Robot Guitar Player

In my last year of engineering at the University of Waterloo, I was given an eight-month opportunity to build literally any mechatronics system I wanted!  So, of course, I – together with my teammates Stephen Tufts and Deryk Morrish – chose to build a robotic guitar player.  We’ve named it the “Robot Johnson” in homage to the great blues guitarist Robert Johnson.

The Robot Johnson plays any guitar tab file with its grid of solenoid actuators on the fret board and strumming area.

It’s been an amazing experience to see our vision come to life. Just a few months ago, this was a 3D-rendered CAD drawing made in Solid Works.

3D-rendering of the robot guitar to be!  Pretty rad design.

We debuted at the First Annual Waterloo Mechatronics design symposium, and I’m pleased to announce that we won the $500 Best Overall Design Project award – proceeds to be put toward a class party hosted by our team.

We chose to demo with a guitar classic – Carry on my Wayward Sun by Kansas.  Miraculously, the first time we ever plugged our three systems together (I made the mechanical and actuator systems, Stephen made the software, and Deryk made the electrical systems) it worked out of the box – something that has literally never happened to be in the engineering lab.  Check out the video of its inaugural test below (different Kansas song).


Sadly, I don’t think we’ll be commercializing the Robot Johnson any time soon, but I hope through this post that its legacy lives on!