You’ve probably never seen a guitar quite like this before, or heard one like it either. The Circle Guitar has a built-in sequenced picking motor that allows you to create “sounds, textures and rhythms that would be impossible with a conventional electric guitar,” according to creator Anthony Dickens.
“By using a mechanical device to strike the strings, rather than a human hand, you can exceed what is physically possible and push guitar playing into new, unexplored territories,” he wrote in the description of a YouTube video that shows off the prototype.
All of the Circle Guitar’s mechanical parts are housed in a single 3D-printed unit, according to Guitar World. Plectrums slotted into the rotating motor can play at up to 250bpm (beats per minute).
There are 128 slots for picks, and you can program your own strumming pattern that can sync to a DAW. As such, the Circle Guitar can theoretically strum the strings 32,000 times a minute. Even someone who can play “Flight of the Bumblebee” at 1,600bpm can’t measure up to that for any sustained length of time.
Given the way the motor works, you might imagine the guitar would only be good for chords that use all six strings. That’s not quite the case. There’s a hexaphonic pickup and each string has its own output. The body of the guitar has six switches and buttons that can mute individual strings. That’s a clever idea, which gives the Circle Guitar more utility than it would have otherwise.
Best of all, the Circle Guitar sounds cool. Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien was impressed when he got to try it. There’s no word on if or when you’ll be able to buy one, but you can join a mailing list if you’re interested.