I'm not sure I can ask this kind of question here, but if someone understands the context I would be interested to know if they know more about it. In a fiber optic guitar, the musical notes and sounds characteristic of instruments normally detected by electromechanical devices such as magnetic pickups and acoustic transducers are now generated by the modulation of light within the optical fibers ("strings") and are transmitted optically without losses. how is it possible to create such a guitar? What advantages could it bring in audio transmission?

Fiber Optic Guitar

  • 1
    "What are its advantages?" Presumably none, as no-one ever released it as a product or could sell it to anyone else as an idea. It came about at the same time people were first seriously experimenting with convolution & physical modelling. They went on to become ubiquitous. This didn't.
    – Tetsujin
    Apr 27, 2022 at 13:12
  • It is purely a gimmick.
    – Rory Alsop
    Apr 28, 2022 at 19:01

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, the comment format isn't capable of handling my response to this question.

Section 5 of the article you linked lists the supposed advantages of such an instrument. let's go through them one by one:

Elimination of Instrument Electrical Noise and Hum

Noise and hum in an electric guitar setup are introduced by the amplifier. In the proposed setup we will be amplifying minute fluctuations in a beam of light which will require the amplifier to work much harder. This is very likely to introduce hum and noise back into the system.

Increased Frequency Response Potential

I think the author means that we will get a clearer signal from the guitar strings. The only problem is that we will be using optical fibres which will behave differently from nylon or steel guitar strings - the frequency response that we will be getting will not be comparable to that of guitar strings.

Optical Transmission Improvements

This just appears to be an empty "because fibre optics" statement. This would also be achieved using a discrete sound-to-light conversion enabling the use of fibre optics in place of the standard guitar cable. Of course, both the authors and my arguments are moot when we add a wireless link to the amp.

Elimination of Electric Shock Hazard

Similar to the noise and hum issue this is not related to the guitar but to the amplifier - If your amplifier is capable of delivering electrical shocks through your guitar then you need to get it fixed before it becomes a fire hazard - not find a way to ignore it!

Fiber Optic String Resistance to Corrosion

If you need a solution to string corrosion then you are not looking after your guitar correctly. Guitar strings, regardless of what they are made of, are subject to things which the fibre optics would also be subject to; mechanical fatigue, thermal stress, finger grease, and skin deposits. They would all likely have the same effect as they do on regular strings - The finger grease and skin deposits would dampen the vibrations thereby dulling the sound and the mechanical fatigue and thermal stress would wear away and eventually break the fibres completely - this is why good guitarists change their strings regularly.

Based on the supposed advantages of such a system, I have to conclude that the author is either trying to solve a problem that doesn't exist or doesn't understand how electric guitars work - Either way, I have lost faith in their ability to produce such an instrument.

A better use of the properties discussed in the article would be as a super low-profile, large-area contact-type microphone. If the science quoted by the author is correct, this could be achieved by coiling an optical fibre across specific parts of the soundboard of a guitar, effectively building a compound microphone that monitors the entire range of frequencies produced.

  • Reading the article a second time and analyzing the parts related to the advantages, it seems a very utopian vision of an unrealizable project. Very interesting is the note you made regarding the wide-area contact microphone. Thanks for the accurate explanation Apr 27, 2022 at 17:00
  • one of the most obvious things missing from this discussion is the nature of guitar strings, their ability to resonate and their elastic properties that allow them to stretch and vibrate - properties that are seldom found in fibre-optics, which are by their nature quite brittle and unlikely to have any useful elastic properties.
    – Mark
    Apr 29, 2022 at 12:50

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