Learning to play an instrument is difficult and requires a lot of practice time. That’s why we’ve seen a number of devices emerge that try to make the process easier by having students follow lights on instruments, such as FretX, Populele and One Piano.
Now, Samsung’s C-Lab wants to solve this problem with a similar system that it showed at CES 2022: ZamStar, designed for people to learn to play melodies on the guitar by lighting up the fret positions. In addition, this system has a smart guitar called ZamString and a digital platform in the form of a mobile application.
You’ve probably noticed that guitars often have fret markers on the fretboard along the neck, as a visual aid to quickly find the notes to play. Similarly, the smart guitar from Samsung’s creative lab has built-in LED lights for all six strings on each of the guitar’s 22 frets.
This features a humbucker pickup in the bridge position and a single coil in the neck, along with a five-way selector. In addition, it has an input that allows you to connect the guitar to an amplifier and three backlit tone / volume / control buttons.
The guitar works in conjunction with the other part of the system – the ZamSter mobile app. This is the one that will allow you to illuminate the finger positions while you learn a song, so the guitar will show you when and where to press a string. It can also present you tablature on screen during the learning sessions and give digital effects to the guitar.
Although the system was made to make it easier and more dynamic to learn to play the guitar, those who are already experts can also benefit from it, since ZamStar is also geared towards collaboration. The app allows users to record their performances and upload them to a community platform for remote collaboration.
The app doesn’t seem to limit collaborations to those who have a ZamString, so it can be used by any musician or vocalist. This way, others can stack a clip by playing another instrument on top of one of your guitar riffs, and vice versa; so it will appear that each one is playing at the same time from where they are.
Since it’s not meant to be a real-time collaborative performance, the app would apparently allow you to add different layers to create a complete piece, like a drum track, a bass track, keyboards, a brass section, etc.
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Now, if you were interested in the project, you are probably wondering when it will go on sale. However, the answer is not very encouraging. The concept seemed ready to be released to the public at its CES presentation, but C-Lab has confirmed that there are no plans to commercialize ZamStar and ZamString at this time, so they remain internal research concepts.
Certainly, ZamStar seems to be a great way to learn to play guitar and collaborate with other musicians online, especially in the time of pandemic when meeting with other people is difficult. But since, according to the Samsung C-Lab site, this project is expected to come to light “by the end of this year at the earliest”, what remains for now is to play the old ones. Guitar Hero The Rocksmith to have a fun and similar experience.