Greig Stewart, a software engineer from Glasgow, has built a keytar using an old, 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System console and a Guitar Hero controller. The product, which Stewart calls the NES Keytar, took 300 hours of labor and can not only play music using the NES’s circuitry, but can also still play games.
A musician in his spare time, Stewart said that “The project was started way back in August 2013 purely as a hobby project.”
Naturally, this isn’t the first time someone’s built a unique, homemade guitar. A quick, Internet search reveals guitars built from such “junk” as a military gas can, a Sega Genesis, a satellite dish, a toilet seat, and even Lego bricks.
What sets the NES keytar apart from some of these other nifty DIY projects, though, is that it actually uses the console’s built-in technology to make music.
Stewart created his NES keytar through a process of trial and error, which, as he says, cost “a lot more than it should have.” He also had to bust up a few consoles before getting the NES keytar up and running. What took him the most time was debugging and testing. Stewart’s still finding bugs even now that he’s got it up and running, in fact.
“Luckily it didn’t blow up like one of my previous projects did,” Steward noted.
Even more amazing perhaps is the fact that the console still plays games. According to Stewart, “it works better than it did before I started,” because he, “cleaned and replaced some of the internal contacts that had started to deteriorate (no more blowing into cartridges required!), and upgraded the audio outputs to give a much cleaner sound with less buzz.”