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Ask Slashdot: Best Open Source License For Guitar?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the modular-guitar dept.

Music 102

First time accepted submitter PraxisGuitars writes "I am working on developing an open source electric guitar. I wish to make the basic structural system completely open and free, with a standardized interface allowing different body shapes and modules to be bolted on. I am having trouble figuring out the best way to release the files. There seem to be at least half a dozen open source licenses out there; The Thingiverse has some precedent for open source 3d data, but version control seems like it might be difficult. I have looked into sourceforge and github, but don't know enough to know if that would be the best choice. Are there other precedents out there? Is there a better way?"

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Well (1, Insightful)

buanzo (542591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452880)

It is not software, maybe a CC license?

Re:Well (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452916)

What are RipRap plans posted under? That seems to me it would be the proper choice- especially since it would enable "free as in beer" replication.

Re:Well (3, Informative)

buback (144189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453658)

first of all, it's Reprap. and they use the GPL and CC licenses.

But they only cover the documentation and the CAD files, of course. The actual ideas and aren't covered by copyright, but by patents.

Re:Well (1)

buanzo (542591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452924)

or you can always create your own license

Re:Well (3, Insightful)

markkezner (1209776) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453032)

I wouldn't recommend creating your own license unless absolutely positively necessary. To do so would add legal ambiguity to how it can be used and combined with other projects.

Re:Well (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453060)

CC would be good because it's designed for multiple types of data.

I just checked OpenCores (the first of the hardware open source sites) and the preferred license is LGPL on there. I would say that if it's already in use for hardware specs and is working for that then it's a viable license to use.

Re:Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453064)

In a sense though it is 'source code,' in terms of he is providing a set of blueprints and design documents which can be compiled/used to prepare a finished product. Wouldn't the GPLv3 (perhaps with some small changes in vernacular) be perfect for this?

public domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38452882)

the subject says it all

Re:public domain (2)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452940)

Yes, please. Public domain is the most useful "license" you could apply to such a thing. Develop your modular parts standard, give it a name, publish the standard without strings attached, and leave it up to the parts manufacturers and hobbyists to comply with your standard.

Re:public domain (5, Funny)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452978)

Yes, put it all in the public domain without strings, and then charge an arm and a leg for the strings. Brilliant! After all, what good is a guitar without strings?

Re:public domain (1)

djdanlib (732853) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453146)

I'm glad someone caught the joke there.

If you're serious: The competition would probably win that one, since they have those 3-packs-for-$10 sales all the time. Rats!

Re:public domain (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453288)

You just need to design it such that it requires special proprietary strings.

Re:public domain (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453424)

My bass is a Steinberger [wikipedia.org] , you insensitive clod.

Re:public domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38456292)

I see that you're trying to put on new strings. Would you like to make this brand your default strings, and never have to ask again? Click OK for yes.

Re:public domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38456386)

Hold on there, I've a patented G-string. Oh, wait...

Re:public domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453012)

People love to spout this line all the time, but conveniently ignore the fact that copyright attaches at the time of creation automatically, and there is no mechanism in US copyright law to just "release" something into the public domain. The creator has sole right to reproduce, excluding fair use, and in the absence of a license explicitly permitting distribution, no one but the creator has that right. You could theoretically just release something and say "I promise I won't sue you if you redistribute this" but that is not legally enforceable. Which means as a person or company interested in using your work, I should be extremely wary, since you could easily and legally just change your mind and screw me over.

Re:public domain (3, Informative)

scheme (19778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453378)

You could theoretically just release something and say "I promise I won't sue you if you redistribute this" but that is not legally enforceable. Which means as a person or company interested in using your work, I should be extremely wary, since you could easily and legally just change your mind and screw me over.

It is legally enforceable. Look up promissory estoppel. Basically it's a legal doctrine that says that if someone makes a representation or promise to you regarding something and you take action based on that promise, that person can't sue you for acting on that promise. E.g. if you release something and promise not to sue anyone for redistribution, then legally you no longer have the right to sue anyone for redistribution.

PD + CC0 = Awesomeness (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453536)

This, and you can always pair a public domain dedication with a CC0 waiver [creativecommons.org] . They're two great tastes that taste great together.

Re:public domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455208)

Didn't stop Sony from removing OtherOS from PS3

Re:public domain (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 2 years ago | (#38461150)

In the United States.... In the rest of the world, different rules apply which is why it is imperative to have an explicit license.

Re:public domain (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453468)

More than this... there's not really any mystery involved in how guitar pickups work. They can be wound different ways, different components such as the magnets may be used... but I'm having a hard time understanding, from TFA, what we are endeavoring to do here.

The manufacturing process for guitars is pretty commonly understood. Some companies use different woods, some use different bracing in acoustics, but... the evil in patents doesn't seem to apply here. There's not a whole lot of squelch going on in the guitar industry by patent concerns. You'll hear of a model in the past being nixed in court because too much aesthetic resemblance to another brand's competing model, but the factors that contribute to sound character are well known. Anyone can build a solid body guitar with an alder body and a maple neck. Anyone can build an acoustic out of rosewod, spruce, etc. What makes a great guitar sound great is obvious.

Some main reason high quality guitars are expensive are brand loyalty, brand recognition being important to buyers, and the fact that the higher end of the market wants an instrument that's hand made in the United States with high end materials. But this is one industry where those making the highest quality really are winning.

The size of the market and the specific demands of production cause this market to self regulate.

Re:public domain (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453624)

If I copied blueprints for a Fender and then sold it they'd have a fairly strong legal case against me. This guy wants to put blueprints out there that anyone can use, and sell. Anyone can make a guitar, only Fender are allowed to make Fenders (or something legally close enough to count).

Re:public domain (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453722)

The question is, what is a "Fender". Guitars are not complicated things... there are plenty of companies out there making strat clones - solid body guitars with three single coil pickups, a five way selector, with the same body shape and constructed from the same materials. They don't really have a copyright they are clubbing people with. There are lots of Nothingcasters hanging up in music stores today.

Trademark (3, Informative)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453900)

Gibson has trademarks on its guitar body shapes. (Yes trademark, not copyright, not patent) It has filed lawsuits in the past. They are currently sueing Paper Jams. Fender tried to get trademarks on the Stratocaster, Telecaster and Precision Bass but failed. Too many companies were already using the design when they filed for the trademarks.

Re:Trademark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454540)

Tobson tried to sue Paul Reed Smith several years ago over a PRS guitar wither a single cutaway whose body shape was nearly identical to the Les Paul. Gibson lost when a Gibson exec was forced to admit on the stand that you'd have to be an idiot to mistakenly buy a prs. I own a Harmony that is identical to a stratocaster, even down to the number of screws on the pickguard.

Re:Trademark (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455392)

Honestly, my dad is a luthier and while you can copy a number of guitars (Allparts even sells full fender bodys/necks for assembly, as I understand, with Fender's blessing.), there are already dozens of 'open source' guitars available, given that the majority of guitar designs in production today are derivativs of guitar designs dating back from a few decades to a number of centuries. Additionally as an artistic craft, most of them prefer not to make clones of other people's designs as a matter of course (although the differences may be quite subtle in many of the non-electric designs, since the geometries for most of the bodies/sides are pre-determined. You do see alternatives, but there are acoustic and structural considerations which tend to limit sweeping innovations. The exception being bracing inside the guitar. If you can get a mirror or endoscope or something in there, the bracing style can probably give you some ideas on who produced it for hand crafted rather than production guitars. Mind you, there's probably also a sticker in there stating who produced it and when, or in lieu of a sticker a pencil or grease pen.)

Re:Trademark (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455638)

Somebody mod parent up interesting please :)

Re:Trademark (1)

edremy (36408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455820)

Unless, of course, you do decide to be radical [blackbirdguitar.com] and junk the idea of wood altogether [rainsong.com] , as many folks have done [xoxaudiotools.com]

Best FIRST POST for FIRST POST (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38452888)

I couldn't really think of anything more topical to say here.

The Best Release (-1, Offtopic)

ExploHD (888637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452902)

Rock out with your cock out

Follow up question... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38452906)

What's the best open source license for lamp. I love lamp.

Consult the Open Hardware Journal (3, Informative)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452964)

Check out these various Open Source hardware projects for licensing ideas:

http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/11/10/31/2221206/open-hardware-journal [slashdot.org]

Re:Consult the Open Hardware Journal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453092)

A pity that PraxisGuitars didn't see that already before asking... now we have to go over it all again?

OSHW (1)

kodiaktau (2351664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38452976)

I think this is something of value the community needs to look at more closely. The OSHW provides licensing models that can help like FOSS. There are also some helpful areas like http://www.ohanda.org/ [ohanda.org] that provide housing for these kinds of communities - but they don't get a lot of traction. It would be interesting to see if a Sourceforge project page could be used to help communicate and list in the directory or to (more importantly) help promote the idea.

Trademark (3, Informative)

king neckbeard (1801738) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453028)

If you wish to keep it standardized, I'd say that you should just release it under public domain or WTFPL, and get a trademark. License the trademark to anyone that adheres to certain specs.

Re:Trademark (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453428)

That's exactly what I was thinking. While the WTFPL has language that sounds a little like a joke, it is the most permissive license in existence.

reminds me of... (2)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454050)

Mozilla does this with Firefox: the code is under an open source license for copyright purposes, but the logo/name are trademarked.
also, many tech standards aren't as cheap or permissive to use, but standards compliance is enforced partially via trademark on the name/logo

Bruce Perens (4, Informative)

bhima (46039) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453034)

You need to talk to Bruce Parens. He's easy to find.

Re:Bruce Perens (1)

user-hostile (1177051) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454860)

He's usually found hanging out with his two brothers, Left and Right.

Re:Bruce Perens (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457360)

even posts in here as well...

Bicycles have tried something similar? (2)

fotoguzzi (230256) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453078)

What some bicycle people are doing may be similar to what you are trying to do (or not).
bb30 [bb30standard.com]
freehub [bikerumor.com]

Is there a real need for "open source" guitars? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453126)

What really matters is the scale length and the neck pocket dimensions. Everyone uses the "Fender" spec so you can use interchangeable necks should one break. Pickup sizes are mostly standardized. The entire industry works around a set of "standards" that mostly work well together as long as you don't copy the headstock look.

Re:Is there a real need for "open source" guitars? (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453720)

This. Most guitars parts and accessories already use either the Fender or the Gibson specs.

Also, musicians are notoriously resistant to change and, since Leo Fender died, not many innovations in electric guitar design have catched on.

Re:Is there a real need for "open source" guitars? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455564)

Ahem....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steinberger [wikipedia.org]

Major big guitarists play one and lust after one.

Re:Is there a real need for "open source" guitars? (1)

Zedrick (764028) | more than 2 years ago | (#38457248)

Are you joking? I tried one of those in the late 80's. Very uncomfortable, the sound is too light for anything but pop music not to mention that it has a silly look. The only "good" thing is that it lightweight, but again - that's something only useable for weak pop music-guitarists.

Re:Is there a real need for "open source" guitars? (1)

Abreu (173023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38460652)

Stuff like Steinbergers or Parkers have not "catched on" by any stretch of imagination with guitar players.

Maybe if you had mentioned Ovation clamshell back acoustics I would have conceded a point.

The Ugly Stick? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453248)

Design isn't my bag but what is the frame material holding the pickups? Looks like alu and considering the bridge is attached to the frame, doesn't this mean constant tuning problems like a Travis Bean?

Re:The Ugly Stick? (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454708)

I agree, it looks like aluminum. (The most musical of all metals...) It also won't sound particularly good, since the body won't be under any tension.

Re:The Ugly Stick? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455458)

The most musical of all metals...

I don't know about that; after injuring my shoulder I once considered making a bass out of titanium. Titanium isn't exactly cheap but for a DIY project with free access to a CNC shop, materials came in around the cost of a custom shop purchase. High tensile strength would be great for sustain but poor thermal expansion coefficient had me worried about it holding tune. As things turned out, my shoulder was only out for a couple of months and not the 6 the doctors advised. So although I don't like the styling of the body on the praxis, I am kinda interested in the construction.

It also won't sound particularly good, since the body won't be under any tension.

It'd be better if the neck extended up to the tailpiece, the frame simply clamping into the extended neck.

Use the TAPR Open Hardware License (4, Informative)

rbulling (7973) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453266)

You could use the TAPR Open Hardware License:

http://www.tapr.org/OHL

It's a copyleft-style license drafted by a lawyer that permits a broad range of activity. Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond helped review it. Open hardware licenses are still in the early stages of evolution and adoption. If TAPR does not meet your needs, the Wikipedia entry on Open-source hardware lists more alternatives:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_hardware

I'm struggling with (3, Insightful)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453328)

Why a license is necessary, or why it is an open-source guitar. The basic functionality of a guitar is well beyond reach of any patents or copyrights. And I read your website -- cheap guitars can be had for under $100 these days that are very good for a beginner. Basses are a little more but still, I can have a copy of Jaco Pastorius' bass for $275.

I suppose there is some larger scheme here that I am missing. I know I couldn't play a guitar that looked like that. I would spend more time disentangling it from my clothes and cables than playing it!

Re:I'm struggling with (1)

GrahamCox (741991) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454604)

I suppose there is some larger scheme here that I am missing.

Well, some people, you know, like making stuff for themselves, rather than being just another consumer. It's infinitely more satisfying to make something than to buy it, even if it's more costly.

That said, I can't see what licensing has to do with this. Publish the plans and if they're any good people will use them. If the motivation is really ego, and simply attaching your name to the design isn't enough, then perhaps the OP needs to rethink the reason he wants to do this.

Re:I'm struggling with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454742)

I suppose there is some larger scheme here that I am missing.

Yep. The first two seconds of the video on the dude's website give the scam away... "Greetings Kickstarters..." he says. Follow the links...

12 Backers
$7,055
pledged of $24,000 goal

So, he's a clever scamartist hoping to pull in 24K$ from dumbasses with more money than sense. 7 grand from the idiots so far? nicely done.

And pegging the cool irony meter at 11... the captcha which I was presented to prove "myself not a robot" was "pitching" [slashdot.org]

Re:I'm struggling with (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38456044)

7 grand from the idiots so far? nicely done.

That's not how Kickstarter works. He hasn't received a penny yet, and won't receive anything unless he reaches his goal. Having raised slightly less than 1/3 of his goal with slightly less than 2/3 of his time remaining, it's going to be a close one.

Re:I'm struggling with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38458224)

ah so that's why he's slashvertising it

Re:I'm struggling with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455436)

I'm sure you're not missing it. You're just too polite to call a spade a spade.

It's called using "Open Source" as a marketing gimmick.

Re:I'm struggling with (1)

PraxisGuitars (2534152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38460794)

I suppose there is some larger scheme here that I am missing.

Here is the larger scheme:

(imagine you are dangling over a shark tank or something)

The neck-frame of the guitar features an innovative structural junction that allows the internal resonance of the instrument to be tweaked by redirecting how the string tension is resolved. This would be patentable, but I am choosing to make it public domain. I have a string of other guitar innovations (new sensors, etc) that I wish to profit from. I believe that I have the most to gain by making the framework public domain and finding a system to standardize different versions of it. I also believe that I need to hire a professional engineer to optimize the structural junction before I release the Praxis Zero interface standards. (worst case scenario, I can still release the interface that I have used for the prototypes)

This is where the kickstarter comes into play.

You might notice on kickstarter that the release dates are sequential, with the est. delivery being proportional to the IP complexity (simplest being delivered first). This way I can receive the money and do some substantial testing before I have to ship the first guitars. The subsequent layers of intellectual property can then be tackled one at a time, with (hopefully) enough money to hire a lawyer by the time I get to the really complicated stuff (such as licensing derivative graphic artwork so that I can feature it on the layer 2 guitar).

It has been very difficult sequencing this project to unfold properly, and I obviously still have a great deal of kinks to work out. Next up: take the kickstarter video off of the praxisguitars.com main page, and make a better video introduction to embed. Mwa hahahaha......

Commercial use...? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 2 years ago | (#38464212)

If you genuinely want other people to build them, you have to get rid of the non-commercial restriction mentioned on your site. You can't build a market from the handful of people with the interest, equipment and skills to do this.

The idea of "Open Source" is laughable -- you could buy build-your-own-instrument plans long before the birth of software development. I suggest you have a look at the copyright statements on standard guitar plans from StewMac et al.

Source=Files Executable=Guitar? (1)

roguegramma (982660) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453436)

Well, your guitar is not considered to be under copyright.
So open source licenses do not apply to your project, since, well, there is no binary.

So you can Either choose a creative commons license, there are lots of them to choose from.

Or, you could make your own license, along the lines of the GPL, which would disallow people from selling your guitars unless they passed on the files that told how to construct them with the guitar. That alone would be in the spirit of an open source license. The EFF would probabaly help you with that. Or you could look at the RepRap community, it has experience with that topic.

Also, you don't have to offer a license at all.

You could for example, forbid all people to use the files, but hope secretly that all people pirated your files.
In this line of thinking, you could also add a pirate licensing terms, which might just state:
All people who distribute my files are pirates.

Well, that would be kind of strange, so I guess what I really should have said is this:
It really depends on what you want from your license.
I would suggest you restate the question somewhere, but include what you want from the license.

As a bassist... (2)

wjcofkc (964165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453492)

I find this absolutely fascinating. As someone who has spent some time in a guitar repair shop this makes a lot of sense. Or if it doesn't, it is at least not without some sense. I took a look and the Praxis Zero looks absolutely wicked. To have one of those on stage would draw endless praise and positive attention (speaking from the level of the local scene in a big town). A modular guitar is a great idea as I wouldn't have to "fret" so much over specs as I choose my next axe. Rather, I could just change the specs on my one machine. All makes and models of guitars sound different than all other makes and models - this I don't have to explain to you the particulars of. If I could transform my p-bass into a j-bass for one gig without having switch to a whole different kit that would be great. At the very least it would have a strong and worthwhile nitch. Unfortunately, I have no answers and only questions but I wanted to back you up that this isn't a dumb idea. Will there be a bass centric version?

Re:As a bassist... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454156)

Modular guitars aren't new, and they've never been popular. Even modular on a smaller scale -- making pick-ups swappable without tools, for instance -- has never caught on with the public; Gibson tried it again just recently and the buying public gave a collective "who gives a fuck?"
 
I'm honestly not sure why this is the case, although my guess is it's because most of us think of guitar bodies less like commoditized combinations of parts and more as a whole that either has that sound you want or doesn't. Plus, this isn't something that'd be useful for musicians wanting the different sounds during the same show. Cutting out most working musicians and most non-working (aka even poorer) musicians doesn't leave much of a market, I guess

Re:As a bassist... (1)

PraxisGuitars (2534152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38461416)

The bass is in the works. In my experience, you never know what sound you want until you hear it; I designed the system to encourage tinkering. I am hoping after the system goes online people will upload examples of how certain setups sound - to make it easier for other people to find the tone they seek.

Interesting question (2)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453512)

I'm curious: what part of the design of an electric guitar would not already be completely covered by prior art? Unless you do something really extraordinary with the electronics, which I wouldn't recommend because all that's best done downstream from your output jack, or have some really innovative tuning system (like the automated tuning done on new high end models of the Les Paul) there's not a lot that you're going to do that's going to be new and therefore license-able. The dimensions (or at least the ratios) are standard if you expect to stay in tune, and you can put your tuning pegs at one end of the strings or the other (ala Steinberg). I suppose you could create some innovative process for routing the body or planing the neck or come up with some fantastic new material with extraordinary acoustic properties. Maybe there's room for special design in truss rods or pickups. But I guess the question would be: why?

How about this: Come up with a nicely designed electric guitar and release your design into the public domain. Then you don't have to worry about licenses at all. If it's a fantastic design, you'll get your recognition.

I wonder: was the original Les Paul patented? I know humbucking pickups were, and certain tuning systems/bridges and designs for vibrato tailpieces.

Just so you know, making your guitar in the shape of an axe/rocketship/state of Texas? Already been done.

Re:Interesting question (1)

SuperMonkeyCube (982998) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455628)

I, for one, welcome something extraordinary with the electronics.

A large number of the significant improvements to the guitar that matter to guitarists have all happened ahead of the output jack. Humbucking pickups (which you already mentioned), active electronic pickup systems, locking tuners, various vibrato assemblies, noise cancelling single coil pickups like the Fender Lace Sensor and its successors, the Sustainiac and Fernandes Sustainer systems, piezoelectric pickups, different formulations of guitar strings and different neck and body materials and dimensions are all examples. Certainly, great gains have been made in amplification technology, and the proliferation of cheap mass-produced digital effects and moderately priced high-quality analog effects have allowed a greater variation of noises to emanate from the speakers of guitarists everywhere, but it's not like Ted Nugent could plug in some effect box and sound like Eddie Van Halen - a lot of things happen before the output jack. Also, to borrow the phrase from the coders - "Garbage In, Garbage Out." To marginalize what happens before the output jack is like the director that lets a bad take go and tells the crew "We'll fix that in post". Anything that can be done to get a better quality or more desirable signal out of the guitar in the first place should be considered, since it makes the job of all the things after the output jack all the easier. IMO, guitar effects are best like makeup - most of the time they're better when tastefully done and not noticed, and if you are going to draw attention to it, it better be awesome.)

Re:Interesting question (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455930)

it's not like Ted Nugent could plug in some effect box and sound like Eddie Van Halen

With modeling and convolution processing, he certainly can. He could even create a sufficiently complex multisample of Van Halen and sound exactly like him.

Well, to be honest, I don't think Ted Nugent could do that because he's a moron, but let's say any guitarist with an IQ above 90 could do it.

A large number of the significant improvements to the guitar that matter to guitarists have all happened ahead of the output jack. Humbucking pickups (which you already mentioned), active electronic pickup systems, locking tuners, various vibrato assemblies, noise cancelling single coil pickups like the Fender Lace Sensor and its successors, the Sustainiac and Fernandes Sustainer systems, piezoelectric pickups, different formulations of guitar strings and different neck and body materials and dimensions are all examples.

Great, they should all be open source.

Re:Interesting question (1)

1000101 (584896) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455962)

I suppose you could create some innovative process for routing the body or planing the neck

praxis guitars [praxisguitars.com]

I see some pretty good ideas here that I haven't seen from Gibson, Fender, et al. With that said, /. isn't exactly the best place to ask for legal advice, which is what you need. If you're serious about this life decision (which, from what I can see from your website, you clearly are), go talk to a lawyer. Don't let posts like:

Just so you know, making your guitar in the shape of an axe/rocketship/state of Texas? Already been done.

stop you from pursuing your dreams.

Re:Interesting question (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38456572)

praxis guitars

Those are some seriously cool-looking guitars. Those deeply scalloped frets however, are really only for a certain type of shredder.

But no question, if the guy(s) at praxis get enough dough from kickstarter to really get going, there are going to be some players snapping up those instruments.

Custom stringed instruments are wonderful. A few years ago, I had a luthier in North Carolina make me a tenor ukulele with a parquet fretboard. The wood was all exotic and all sustainable and he had an extremely innovative way of bracing the body. I play that thing strung with nylagut and it's how I imagine it feels to play a Stradivarius. And it was less expensive than an American-made Les Paul or a good Paul Reed Smith guitar. If I was so inclined, and I'm not, I could sell the uke for at least twice what I paid for it. The luthier got a lot more well known in the few years since he made my instrument and now his stuff goes at a premium.

use image diffs with github (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453542)

You should render components out to images as part of your commit process.

Then you can use the builting image differencing on github:
https://github.com/blog/817-behold-image-view-modes

and you should get nice highlights of only the parts of the pieces that changed in each commit. This will make exploring and managing branches so much easier.

WHY WHY WHY? (1)

smith6174 (986645) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453752)

Don't get me wrong, I love open source, and custom guitars are really cool, but what in the world is the point? A quick internet search brings up schematics for every meaningful electric guitar built in the past 50 years. Have you invented a new way to wrap the pickup coils, or invented a new way to wire up volume knobs? It isn't like Fender and Gibson have a monopoly, and wood does grow on trees. You can shape the thing any way you want with tools available at any hardware store. Are you really obsessed with a license for something that anybody could build using commodity parts? I suggest just take pictures of your process and put it in a blog with blueprints or something.

Re:WHY WHY WHY? (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453970)

I'm with OP on this - this seems like a non-issue. If you want people to know the part specs, post them on your website under public domain. Version control is a non-issue - if the drawings are in 2D then have a title block. If the files are in 3D then put it in the properties.

Re:WHY WHY WHY? (1)

mooncaine (778422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454210)

"The pickups are attached to a plate that can be easily swapped."

Why? Here's why: "The pickups are attached to a plate that can be easily swapped."

That's 1 example, probably the single thing that would attract more players than anything else, and there are plenty of good ideas in your guitar plans to go along with that. I like the idea of swapping out necks, too.

I'd want fingerboard options like: zero fret, 24 frets, scalloped, fretless, a fat vintage C profile and some other profiles.... If I had to lathe and mill my own necks, though, I wouldn't. I'd feel great about buying truly interchangeable parts, one or two at a time, from builders/sellers, as I could afford them and whenever I am in the mood to change something up.

I'd want to see more space on the frame for larger bridges, esp. Kahler, Floyd Rose, and other vibrato/"tremelo"/whammy bar bridges, and I'd need to be able to place a pickup closer to the briddge than 9 mm (to fit my Roland GK pickups). Those would be required before the modular axe could be useful to me.

I'd also want modular parts that let me make a solid, reliable headless guitar. Those things are really wonderful.

Re:WHY WHY WHY? (1)

edremy (36408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455918)

"The pickups are attached to a plate that can be easily swapped."

Why? Here's why: "The pickups are attached to a plate that can be easily swapped."

That's 1 example, probably the single thing that would attract more players than anything else, and there are plenty of good ideas in your guitar plans to go along with that. I like the idea of swapping out necks, too.

And that's different from a Stratocaster in what way? I can already easily swap out the pickups- they're attached to the pickguard, and I can buy any number of pickguards preloaded with various pickups/electronics for a Strat. I can pull off the neck anytime I want and swap in a new one- it's only four screws, and there are a dozen companies out there that make Strat compatible necks. I can assemble a Strat entirely from random parts- they are almost totally interchangeable.

(My biggest frustration with my Yamaha 921 when I got it off of Craigslist was that it looks like a Strat, but the parts are all subtlety different, so it took forever to figure out what I could use.)

Re:WHY WHY WHY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38456596)

Did you even look at it? You can see the difference immediately. Swapping pickups is easier. It is not as easy as you make it seem, swapping pickups in your Strat.

Since you mentioned, "(My biggest frustration with my [guitar] was that it looks like a Strat, but the parts are all subtlety different, so it took forever to figure out what I could use.)," you've just pointed out the key benefit of the modular guitar, as the OP puts it.

Re:WHY WHY WHY? (1)

edremy (36408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38468140)

Yes, I knew large parts of it weren't compatible. I give it a pass on this because the 921 does things better than a Strat- the neck joint is a thing of beauty that should be copied by all bolt-neck guitars, the locking nut is height adjustable, the tremelo doesn't require you to cut the ball ends off the strings, etc. The parts I had trouble with were the lock washers- it wasn't clear these weren't standard Floyd Rose parts, and I had to find someone at Yamaha who actually knew something about an obscure 20-year-old model. (I knew it needed some love when I got it- it was cheap. Plays beautifully now)

But none of that affects my point- *Strats* are self compatible. Changing out a pickguard is hardly rocket science- it's a few screws and 30 seconds of soldering. Everything else swaps in with a screwdriver.

Re:WHY WHY WHY? (1)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454740)

I guess that's my question too. Under what legal framework does he think he is licensing this? Copyright? Trademark? Patent? And what does he hope to accomplish?

Re:WHY WHY WHY? (1)

PraxisGuitars (2534152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38466676)

Why? The future! Praxis guitars uses a digitally automated build process. It goes like this- I generate machine code, load raw materials into the cnc, and run the code. After the computer program runs on the machine, out comes a mostly finished guitar. I could then email the code to someone else with a programmable cnc, they run it, and out comes an exact copy of my guitar.

-5; Off Topic: The stuff, not the license (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453782)

Off the topic of my hat:

First, this looks to me like that pickup testing guitar [rockinger.com] . Who wants to play such kind of a guitar? Flexibility is all nice and well, but once I settle with the build of a specific instrument, I like it to remain stable and predictable. No desire to hassle around with parts and configurations and settings before each take off. That's why players tend to have more than just one guitar.

Second, don't forget the harp guitar [harpguitars.net] and other multi-neck and multi-string players! Your design, while intended to become open, seems to be focused on the classical single-neck-centric type of a plucked instrument. And please consider the need of space for additional strings—7 on the neck are fine for me, but others prefer more.

Third, and most important: Don't take my harsh critique personal or even discouraging (and I didn't even start to mention that I prefer acoustic multi-string/multi-neck guitars!). Although I'm personally not in the least interested in this particular project, you're up to a great endeavor and I hope you'll find like-minded supporters. I'll keep you bookmarked just to see what this will develop into.

Best, AC

floyd rose, tunning? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38453824)

You need to make room for a floyd rose or something similar. I personally would just rather have multiple guitars because that would avoid having to retune.
Also to add more versatility try adding passive pick ups that way you can switch from humbuckers to single coil with the flip of a switch.

Re:floyd rose, tunning? (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 2 years ago | (#38464294)

Mounting a Floyd Rose on an aluminium frame sounds like an invitation to a buckling....

Cool (1)

jigenbakado (2533166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38453990)

I'd really appreciate it if you kept me updated at andrew_tess1@yahoo.com.au, this fascinates me.

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454064)

I find your ideas intriguing and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

ASS HAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454142)

Why are you such an ASS HAT?

Patent It (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454034)

This thing is a physical thing. You get no protection from people copying physical things unless you have a patent. If you were the first to create this (or there is no prior art older than one year) then that is definitely what you should do. Write your own version of a patent, then talk to a patent lawyer, have them do the prior art search and legalese-ize the claims section (the only part that carries any weight), submit it, then respond to any patent prosecutions from the USPTO. Once you have the patent you can license it to companies and individuals in any way you see fit - including open sourcing the designs for individual, non-commercial use, and you can make money off of the patent royalties (hopefully only to the commercial entities licensing your patent) to recoup your patent filing and upkeep costs. You will have to be on the lookout for infringement yourself though, as in the US nobody does that for you, and if businesses think they can get away with not licensing it, they will try.

The only other option is to put it up online somewhere and put it in the public domain - this will prevent anybody else from applying for a patent on the same thing (first-to-file system now) because you can prove that the design was yours and that they stole it.

My vote though is seriously the latter. If you need help funding the patent application just use Ask Slashdot again - I'm sure a bunch of people (myself included) will help fund it if you promise to license it to non-commercial entities for free.

BSD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454090)

I still prefer the BSD license.

How to you guarantee the same sound every time... (1)

HockeyPuck (141947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454672)

If I switch out pickup A for pickup B and then go back to A, how to I make sure i'm going to get the same sound in the second 'A' as in the first... It's bad enough when you put on new strings...

I'm a bassist and I have a Musicman Stingray and a Sterling. Two basses with different pickup magnets and different bodies. Is it worth the modularity to avoid having to spend say another $1500 on a bass? If you're serious about music, you'll just get two instruments one with each sound.

Re:How to you guarantee the same sound every time. (1)

TwobyTwo (588727) | more than 2 years ago | (#38454824)

I think it's generally agreed that, especially with typical instruments being made primarily of wood, even seemingly identical instruments have significant variation in tone, and sometimes in playability as well. I would not, for example, expect two Musicman Stingrays to sound exactly the same, even if they were made within days of each other, had exactly the same type of finish, neck shape etc., and were strung with supposedly identical strings. It's not impossible they'd sound about the same, but it certainly would be common for them to sound or feel different somewhat different, and perhaps significantly different. (That's among the reasons that it's still nice to have brick-n-mortar music stores, with good selections of instruments.)

Re:How to you guarantee the same sound every time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38455172)

It's not impossible they'd sound about the same, but it certainly would be common for them to sound or feel different somewhat different, and perhaps significantly different.

Without a doubt. Take a Gibson Les Paul Studio Worn Brown (just to keep it down to one style from one manufacturer). Try quite a few and you'll likely find noticeable differences from neck shape, even though they're supposed to be the same each is different is some way) to how many pieces of wood make up the guitar, quality of fretwork, etc. Personally, I try as many as I can and pick the one that speaks to me.

I'd also note that the pricing on these seem high. Mid-range Gibson territory and Gibson's guitars are overpriced in my opinion anyway. Maybe it's just the pricing for "kickstarting" them into production, I couldn't tell from the video. If I were going to spend $1800+ it wouldn't be on one of these. I find them to be a bit on the ugly side. But, to each their own and I wish them the best. What suits me is not what suits everyone else and I don't expect my tastes to rule guitar design :) (And yes, I'm ignoring the open source part of this and the benefits that come from that, though I do realize they are there....)

Re:How to you guarantee the same sound every time. (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 2 years ago | (#38464346)

(And yes, I'm ignoring the open source part of this and the benefits that come from that, though I do realize they are there....)

Really? Then would you mind enlightening me, because I can't say anything other than marketing...

Re:How to you guarantee the same sound every time. (1)

walshy007 (906710) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455388)

If I switch out pickup A for pickup B and then go back to A, how to I make sure i'm going to get the same sound in the second 'A' as in the first... It's bad enough when you put on new strings...

Aside from any miniscule (sub mm) changes in it from slight mounting changes, it is the same guitar, so it should sound the same.

If I attach a 50mm lens to my dslr, then swap it out for a 300mm one, then back to a 50mm one, should I expect the 50mm to behave differently between the two times? no. The laws of physics do not change just to piss off musicians, the same thing will do the same thing.

I'm a bassist and I have a Musicman Stingray and a Sterling. Two basses with different pickup magnets and different bodies. Is it worth the modularity to avoid having to spend say another $1500 on a bass? If you're serious about music, you'll just get two instruments one with each sound.

The price of decent musical instruments these days is ridiculous compared to the material costs, my digital piano costs about 4k new (not that I paid that much for it) but should be nowhere near that, some people are remedying this by building it themselves. When you can effectively build it yourself, for cheaper, with better materials.... you know something is seriously wrong.

Re:How to you guarantee the same sound every time. (1)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455892)

I'm an IT professional. I'm serious. I've never spent over $1000 on any of my computers. IT pros make more than most musicians... I don't know how the assertion that they should spend more if they're serious makes any sense.
Unless an instrument is completely different (as is likely with an acoustic guitar), the reason most guitarists have multiple guitars is just wankery.

Re:How to you guarantee the same sound every time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38457970)

The difference is that a computer is a programmable multi-function device.

When you can program the guitar to have another sound or feel, your argument is valid.

Re:How to you guarantee the same sound every time. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38458078)

I'm an IT professional. I'm serious. I've never spent over $1000 on any of my computers.

That's not comparable at all, I do most of my computer work on an old P3 laptop that was given to me when it was about to be trashed. And obviously you don't use google, how much do you think their infrastructure costs?

IT pros make more than most musicians...

Wow, an IT 'pro'... you are aware that most muscians are amateurs and have part / full time jobs?

I don't know how the assertion that they should spend more if they're serious makes any sense.

Good instruments appreciate in line with inflation whereas IT equipment is a disposable commodity. Sound, build quality and resale are the major concerns with guitars.

Unless an instrument is completely different (as is likely with an acoustic guitar), the reason most guitarists have multiple guitars is just wankery.

A single coil tele with light strings does not sound or play anything like a les paul with heavy strings. The show doesn't stop when you break a string, you take a backup instrument. For songs in altered tunings, you take an instrument and tune it just for that song. Presumably though since you feel you're in a position to comment, you've played more shows than the thousands I've done over the last decade? Afterall, you're an IT 'pro' who thinks tech gadgets are 'wankery' and can probably get by fine with a fisher price PC or an abacus.

Re:How to you guarantee the same sound every time. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38463200)

It's bad enough when you put on new strings...

Strings are THE pieces that make the sound. And they're THE wear-and-tear items. If you replace dull strings with new ones (and strings start becoming dull at least as soon as you open the sealed package), you'll have a different sound. Remove a string and put it on again. This will change the sound, too. Other parts (apart from replacing a plastic saddle with one made of bone, or replacing plastic bridge pins with brass pins)—not so much.

Solderpad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38454930)

You can post your files, schematics and associated stuff to solderpad.com [solderpad.com] - which provides a git repo and various ways to view the info.

Seems they accept anything under an Open Source Hardware license: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_hardware#Noteworthy_licenses [wikipedia.org]

Open Source... Why not? (1)

thatkid_2002 (1529917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38455864)

Don't over-analyse this. Yes, there are no patents that make this necessary, there is a hellava lot prior art too. Anybody can make a guitar, and the amount of study required is not that much and all the information is easy to find (I've looked).

I had a look at the guitar, its gorgeous. I'd like to see people play with the style that he has started and make a whole range of open, gorgeous models.

Having an easy base to build off allows the artist to just get-on with the art. Hopefully the frame and the neck can be bought for a reasonable price. Currently you can buy necks fairly easily and of-course you can mod them.

CERN Open Hardware Licence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38459264)

http://www.ohwr.org/attachments/735/CERNOHLv1_1.txt
2.1 This Licence governs the use, copying, modification, communication to the public and distribution of the Documentation, and the manufacture and distribution of Products.

Why is everyone talking about patents? (1)

dubsnipe (1822200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38459388)

This sounds more like an industrial design, and there is a specific type of IP design to protect a shape for a product. There is no need for an open source hardware project to be completely novel, so what he should just do is release the blueprints of his guitar under a GPL license. This is what most people are doing nowadays. Now, if you *really* wish to create something novel, you should then engage a community of luthiers and enthusiasts to develop your design even further.

Needed? (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38459518)

It seems like the patents for most of the popular designs (ie, Stratocaster, Telecaster, and Les Paul) are long out of patent. As a matter of fact the market is largely many companies just copying those three designs with a few other unique things thrown in.

As a matter of fact there's already a large market for building renditions of these (checkout the builders forums over at http://www.tdpri.com/ [tdpri.com] if your'e interested). Do we really need a new design when the classics are freely buildable?).

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