MIT's Chameleon Guitar

MIT student Amit Zoran built a "Chameleon Guitar," an electric instrument with a swappable soundboard. Changing the soundboard to one of a different wood or structure dramatically changes the tone of the instrument. The sound can be further tweaked to simulate various soundboard shapes. From the MIT News Office:

 Newsoffice 2009 Chameleon-2-Enlarged…A musician could easily change the sound of the instrument during the course of a concert — providing a variety of sound characteristics, but always leaving the same body, neck and frets so that the instrument always feels the same.

The five electronic pickups on the soundboard provide detailed information about the wood's acoustic response to the vibration of the strings. This information is then processed by the computer to simulate different shapes and sizes of the resonating chamber. "The original signal is not synthetic, it's acoustic," Zoran says. "Then we can simulate different shapes, or a bigger instrument." The guitar can even be made to simulate shapes that would be impossible to build physically. "We can make a guitar the size of a mountain," he says. Or the size of a mouse.

"'Chameleon Guitar' blends old-world and high-tech"