A Midlands man has developed a product that will be music to the ears of frustrated would-be-guitarists across the globe.
Keith Sturch, from Wolverhampton, set up Birmingham-based company Splashplay which he hopes will revolutionise the way people learn to play the guitar.
The 35-year-old came up with an idea for a play-by-lights device for beginner guitarists when he first attempted to play the instrument himself and became irritated with learning chord patterns.
He said: “I sat down and tried to learn my favourite Eric Clapton songs but the tedious and drawn-out process of learning made it very frustrating.”
Keith invented a ‘dance-mat for your guitar’ and set up Splashplay after being further inspired by the success of popular console game Guitar Hero, in which gamers simulate playing the guitar by pressing a series of buttons on a games controller shaped like the instrument.
The Splashplay invention works by showing guitarists where to put their fingers to play certain notes using a specially developed light panel which wraps around the top five frets of a conventional guitar.
Players can download videos or MP3s of their favourite songs to a Bluetooth-enabled Splashpod or phone which communicates with the light panel and shows the user how to play along. The idea is initially being developed for the guitar but there is potential to transfer the concept to other instruments.
Keith said: “The device aims to make learning the guitar simple and fun – the Guitar Hero game grossed $1 billion in its first 26 months so if Splashplay can tap into that revenue stream that would be great.”
In order to get his idea off the ground Keith enlisted the help of the National B2B Centre, based at the University of Warwick in Coventry. The Centre helped to put Keith in touch with several other West Midlands support organisations, including the Manufacturing Advisory Service, Vin Technologies at Birmingham University and Coventry University’s Design Hub, who helped him develop the product and company image.