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Disney Star Guitarist: Guitar Hero with a real guitar


January 14, 2009

Disney Star Guitarist

Disney Star Guitarist

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January 14, 2009 US Music Corp., parent company of several music brands including Washburn Guitars, have partnered with Disney to create the Disney Star suite of applications - which unlike console-based music games, will teach children to play a real guitar or piano using familiar songs from Disney franchises like Hannah Montana and High School Musical.

Disney Star Guitarist comes with a 3/4 scale steel string guitar designed for small hands, and a special pickup that can tell which note is being played on each string, and communicate with the software via a USB cable. In the future, you'll be able to bring a pre-existing full-size guitar along, by buying a bundle including the software, colored strings and the pickup. As you're using a real guitar, it will need to be in tune for the software to work properly - luckily the software has a built-in tuner which teaches you how to tune a guitar. You'll start out with three note chords, which the initial testing has shown that kids can pick up almost instantly, and go through to playing complicated solos.

Disney Star Keyboard comes with a four-octave keyboard with color coded keys, much like Piano Wizard - however unlike Piano Wizard, there are no plans for a software-only version for households already equipped with MIDI keyboards. It's surely no surprise to you by now that Disney Star Vocals comes with a USB microphone.

The Star Suite will be available this Summer, with pricing as follows:

  • US$79.99 for Vocals
  • US$129.99 for Keyboard
  • US$199.99 for Guitarist
  • When you compare these prices to the value of Guitar Hero World Tour or Rock Band 2, which are only teaching kids to play scaled-down versions of real instruments, it's a no-brainer to buy them Disney Star instead. They might be annoyed at first, but once they're melting faces on stage, they'll thank you for it.

    We greatly look forward to this technology reaching maturity and moving into adult-friendly forms.

About the Author
Tim Hanlon Tim originally came to Gizmag as a developer, much to the dismay of anyone who had to maintain, build on, or rewrite his code. After wearing every other hat that didn't have a head for it, he became CEO in 2010. Outside Gizmag, he trains Muay Thai and plays too much Destiny. All articles by Tim Hanlon

It already exists - check out LittleBigStar - a free download is available and feature import of real tablature, audio files and multiplayer. http://LittleBigStar.net


The best part of this product is that regular guitars could be fitted with this 'intelligent' pickup. While Littlebigstar has the same intent, to teach music vs clicking buttons. The potential with this pickup goes beyond playing tabs. You could teach a budding guitarist to read sheet music, or practice techniques such as hammering, or string bending.

The second best part is that it's a common sense approach. If you're simply looking at the output of an analog pickup, an E on one string will likely look like an E on another string. A chord would appear as the sum of the individual vibrating strings. What if you wanted to teach all the different positions of one chord? You'd need to know what string and which fret is being played to give good feedback. I can't think of a simpler way than simply isolating the pickup for each string and looking at the signal before it combines with the other strings.

I can't imagine that Disney came up with the isolated pickup idea, but if they did, good job. A quick patent search came up empty....


I am a guitarist, and I have what is called a MIDI guitar. This means it has a special pick-up which detects the pitch of each string separately. This then enables you to control any keyboard, so you can sound like piano, or a violin section. Pretty cool, huh? A company called Roland make and sell the pick-up as an add-on for any guitar. By the way, the easiest way to learn where to play a chord in different positions is to refer to a chord book. I have devised a simple method of learning chords, but I need to find a way of marketing it.

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