Building a guitar around the zynthian

Hey Zynthian community!

I am thrilled to share with you a project I have been working on for a while: a modular travel guitar that incorporates the Zynthian into its design. This guitar features a guitar pickup, a bass pickup, a battery (standard USB-C powerbank) for portability, 3D printed body parts and utilizes the power of the Zynthian for amp simulation, looper, octaver (for bass pickup), and effects. While having a zynthian as a pedal like effects processor for guitar, i really liked the idea of having a compact guitar with fully featured amp simulation and looper functionality. This should make it far easier to either practice with headphone or while traveling. Basically somewhat similar to whole Smart Guitar Kickstarters that are popping up, but open source and modular.

One of the Zynthian Snapshots in my head look something like this:

  • channel 1: sooperlooper (audio looping)
  • channel 2: amp sim and fx, audio input from guitar pickup
  • channel 3: octaver and fx, audio input from bass pickup
  • channel 4 (optional): sampler/synth for drums, triggered by Zynseq or MIDI foot drums
  • channel 5 (optional): synths for bass, pads

Control (especially for the looper) is done with a midi foot switch. I’m using a nektar pacer.

I am currently in the prototyping phase and I plan to make the hardware open source as soon as the project reaches a state where it can be useful for others. On that note, a huge thank you to the developers and the community for their hard work and dedication in making this project as capable and versatile as it is.

Now, I would love to hear your suggestions and tips on how I can improve this modular guitar. Whether it’s regarding the hardware design, electronics integration, or specific Zynthian configurations. Additionally, if any of you have worked on similar projects or have experience with hardware and electronics, I would be super grateful for any tips or resources you can share. For example, I’m already aware I’m missing a preamp because i was searching through the forum the last few weeks.

more pictures of the iterations along the way and a short demo video can be found here:

Thank you all for being part of this incredible community. I look forward to your feedback and suggestions.


Hi @ben, welcome and well done !

You definitively have made already a great job with your Zynhtianic guitar.
I enjoyed a lot your video demonstrating your live setup. It deserve how much Zynthian is fun and versatile.

Next step (challenge), imho, play with your guitar and with your terrific DIY electronic foot drums on one Zynthian.

How does the pickup signals go to your ADC ? (It looks like a HifiBerry). I understand that each pickup is feeding his own channel.

So, maybe you can use a hardware pot for mixing both pickups and feeding only one channel. This will free the other one for a microphone entry for example (And a big Death Metal effect behind it :wink: )

Keep on the good work :+1:


thanks for the kind words.

having the zynthian function as a sampler for my electronic foot drums is already part of the plan :slight_smile:

yes, they are plugged directly into the hifiberry. it works, but i think i should put a preamp inbetween. the guitar and bass pickup are on separate channels because i want to process them differently. mainly putting an octaver and compressor on the bass signal. vocal processing and looping is also very tempting though. i also thought about putting a MIDI pickup on the guitar and generating bass from that, but yet found one that suits my needs.

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Sorry to ask a parallel question but… there is “simple” midi pickups ??

Apart from the Zynthian and MIDI stuff, i love the guitar design. Just a neck, one pickup and a headless string system. This is real minimalism!


well yes, but not really, i think. this one is kinda cool and simple, but quite the hardware effort:

another one i found was this one:

but as far as i can tell it only acts as a hexaphonic pickup, the actual pickupsignal2midi conversion needs to happen in a separate guitar synthesizer (“Axon or Roland MIDI converters”). still cool, but more stuff needed that doesn’t fit on to the guitar.

Okay, I tough the power bank was a midi pickup :sweat_smile:
From my point of view, I guess you will have better result with a standard guitar pickup and octaver than with a bass pickup.
Because of how it is made and because you have guitar strings.

In the end it’s two pickup that could be at the same “height” but with two signals, or (better) one bridge and one neck pickup, like this you may have different sounds mixed like in a regular guitar but … with more control

For the rest, it look fun :smiley: