By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
2 Flowery Branch graduating seniors build instructional guitar piece
Cochran shows how her and classmate Manders’ invention can help guitarists Thursday morning at the South Hall County school. Light flash on the fretboard to show you where to place your fingers for notes or chords.

It’s not easy to be a self-taught guitar player.

But recent Flowery Branch graduates Tyler Manders and Rachel Cochran created a product to help people learn guitar on their own.

“This is a device that attaches to a guitar that teaches you how to play,” Cochran said. “It goes beneath the strings and has little LED lights under each string on each fret, showing you where to put your fingers.”

Manders said he and Cochran came up with the idea in December, before the Hall County Regional Technology Fair, where they placed first. They created the first prototype in March, just before the state technology fair, where they also placed first.

The device attaches to a guitar and a computer, and has approximately three songs loaded at a time and a chord mode, Manders said.

“It has stop, pause and mute buttons, and a speed dial,” he said. “It tells you where to put your fingers, but as you’re learning, you can slow it way down. Then you can slowly speed up until you can play it. You can also pause it on one note, or mute it so you don’t have to listen to it.”

Cochran said there is a tiny glitch they are currently working to fix. Sometimes when the strings hit the metal conductor, it causes other lights to light up too.

The recent graduates have big hopes for the device. Their current prototype is their first, which Manders made in his basement.

In the future, they hope to adapt the device to work with a smart phone instead of a computer, and to make the pieces slimmer and sleeker.

“One of the major things about it is that it comes off,” Manders said. “It just Velcro’s in the back and you can take the whole thing off, as opposed to having the lights in the guitar. So you can strap it on your own guitar, learn a song and then take it off as if you just taught yourself how to play.”

He said it is ideal for anyone who doesn’t know how to read music or wants to learn how to play guitar without paying for lessons.

Both teens graduated from Flowery Branch High School on Thursday. Manders will attend Southern Polytechnic State University’s new Kennesaw State University campus in the fall, with plans to transfer eventually to the Georgia Institute of Technology. He plans to major in electrical engineering.

Cochran will attend the University of North Georgia in Gainesville, and also hopes to transfer to Georgia Tech and major in mechanical engineering.

Cochran said their mutual interest in engineering helped them come up with the idea for their device.

“We’re both really into music and we both play instruments,” Cochran said. “And we have a passion for engineering. So we wanted to figure out how to put those together and began brainstorming ideas.”

While they spend their summer preparing for life after high school, Cochran and Manders will also work on updates to their device.

“We are looking toward being able to sell it,” Cochran said. “We’re trying to work on a patent and get a final product going. We have some ideas for how to get rid of some (parts) and make it a lot prettier. That’s what we’re going to work on this summer.”