Guitar Capo

Building a prototype guitar capo

Music can be such an integral and important part to someone’s life and producing music takes skill and dedication. A capo, used in playing the guitar helps musicians shorten the strings by clamping the strings to the neck. Loving music, but not able to play it, we had to do a bit of digging into guitar playing for this project. Which is a good example of how we combine our knowledge in the design development process to whatever category of the product we are developing to produce a product well suited for that industry.

The client and his partners wanted a guitar capo that shone light up and down the guitar neck. For this project there are two main design components/elements, the first is the capo part which clamps the guitar strings, the second is the electronic light enclosure with the technology that would ‘snap’ onto the capo.

The client had a basic capo design and wanted DMC to develop the electronics and enclosure that would provide the lighting element. We jumped on board, spoke with our electronic design team and began the project. We spoke with a few guitar players and researched like crazy to figure out everything to do with guitar capos. This is always a necessary part in the process and what helps us empathize with the user for a better design.

Some time passed and after a few meetings with the client and further along in the design process of the PCB we realised we were struggling to fit our top electronic enclosure onto the clients capo. Bringing the two elements together were not working and for this project to be successful, we needed to develop the electronic enclosure and the capo together, so we approached the client with a proposal to allow us to develop the full product.

He and his partners were happy to give us the development of the full project, which was great news for our design team as we could move forward faster and hopefully end up with a more composed product

After the client giving us the go-ahead, we spent some time in ideation balancing usability, function, cost and aesthetics in the design of the capo. This was also a budget project so we maximised our time and decided on features that wouldn’t push the bar too much, this helped save the client money in design time and when it was time to prototype.

We weren’t trying to re-invent the capo, just add an interesting and fun element to the product. Balancing the size and function of the top enclosure with the electronics was probably the most challenging part, we worked through a few iterations balancing the amount of LED’s, battery life, battery size, charging facility and light switches. Our electronics team, as usual were amazing, we soon had a sleek and functional electronic system which we used to finalise the enclosure.

We did some basic prototyping of the parts throughout the process on our FDM printer and once the PCB design was finished we had it prototyped and populated to see how it worked.

The PCB worked well, charged, and fitted perfectly into the rough 3D printed prototype which we tested on a guitar neck.

Case Study
3D Printing, Electronic Design, Industrial Design, Injection Moulding, Light Refraction