Jetson Folding Guitar

This is pretty cool. Does it stay in tune after you fold it and straighten it?

I have a lot of reservations about the aesthetic, but that aside, the choice of hinge and placement seems less than ideal from a strength and playability point of view. You could have a much stronger hinge, with better alignment and fit if you rotated the neck back on the body, but you have one point of rotation and this seems like it would be inherently weak and also have a big potential for miss-alignment and poor fit. This hinge also introduces a protrusion from the bottom edge of the neck which creates an obstacle for my fretting hand no unlike a speed bump.
Keep working at it.

Maybe it does not need to be in tune? The fretless design suggests that the guitar has no loyalty to a particular tuned arrangement – you can put your fingers wherever you want to make whatever note you want.

From what I have read about folding guitars in the past, most stay almost in tune after folding and unfolding. Most typically fold differently though – the hinge is where the neck meets the body and the collapse direction is in the direction of the strings – like this

The benefit of folding this direction is that the strings immediately collapse – tension is only released when folding. This allows the strings to be at a nearly identical length and almost in tune when you reapply tension

From what I can tell from the images . . .
. . .the Jetson design folds within the plane of the neck. Folding in this direction either requires the stretching and possibly breaking of the strings furthest from the hinge point or it requires the strings to be loosened and, therefore, to be out of tune upon tightening. Again though, this would only apply if the guitar was ever meant to be “in tune.” If it is meant to be new age and progressive, maybe it does not need any tuning anyway.

Personally, I find the idea of a folding guitar a little bit terrifying. Stretching six guitar strings all at once feels like a good way to try and break six guitar strings all at once.

First, congrats on graduating. Now on to the harsh stuff.

Your renderings of the guitar are a bit washed out. I’ve checked on two computers and I can’t tell where the guitar ends and where the white of your background begins.

It would be interesting to see your form development sketches. I too wonder why you chose a side hinge instead of breaking the neck in the other dimension? It seems like the hinge would severely hamper playing. You mentioned that the aluminum neck would provide a long sustain. But wouldn’t a slight misalignment of the hinge result in interference with the strings? Also I don’t see a locking feature on the neck, so are you relying on the strings to keep tension on the joint? If so wouldn’t that result in needing to change your strings even more frequently? Where do the strings go when fold the guitar? I don’t see any management of them so I assume they bend haphazardly in all directions.

Tell us why its better to have a collapsing guitar, other then the obvious space saving reasons. Who is this for? How much space does this save? What advantage does it have over other guitars? It seems that you are striving to innovate the guitar but aren’t giving us an adequate description for taking the steps that you have.

The model looks like you spent a lot of time on it and looks well made, why not skip the renderings and give us some up close and personal shots of it? zoom in on the details. You built the thing which is way more impressive then making it in CAD in my mind. Be proud of it.

One thing that annoys me a lot is putting unnecessary terminology into boards. “Brass pivot” for example. Why is that called out? What beneficial information does that tell me about the design? Personally I don’t care that its brass. I’d rather have something more durable for the hinge such as machined stainless.

Its a great start, keep pushing it.

yes, I understand how your hinge works, my critique stands

Your renderings are washed out here too. On a Mac monitor (which has the best contrast/color replication), so I’d fix it.

The angle you chose to show of the rendering is really bad for what you’re communicating. Not only does the transparent part overlap (just ever so slightly that it creates visual tension), you’re treating it sort of like a spec sheet labeling parts of the guitar. For such a purpose to show the parts of the product and to show the functionality of rotation, I’d definitely ditch the awkward 3/4 view.

You don’t really address what happens after you fold it, either. Do you walk around with it strapped to your back? Is there a bag? There’s no context in this project! It feels like you just changed the direction you fold it with a hinge… and that’s it. I can’t see this as an MA project. It feels like a 2 week sophomore project (not slamming you, but you don’t show as much depth as I’d expect in an MA project)

I don’t really get what happens to the strings when you fold it. The photo shows you holding it with your finger, which is not how it would work if it were an actual product.


The aesthetic design of it is also not great. It’s awkwardly narrow with weird curves that looks like spilled milk. Also why the machined aluminum for the neck? If you pinched yourself there it’d hurt like hell.

And your logo is just… yeah. It’s not reflective of the product, and belongs on Cartoon Network.


In the end I think your communication of this product has gotten in the way of any of us understanding it the way you do.

Then what is the brass pivot that is called out on the rendering??

Why would the compression of the guitar by the strings require a large locking mechanism? I understand the need to lock out the system after unfolding, but the magnitude of the forces involved does not lead me to believe the necessity of a large or bulky lock.

Perhaps another idea that might help with the string tension would be to add freedom to the headstock – something similar to a turnbuckle where you could quickly loosen all the strings in one motion and then tighten them all in one motion. Two turns on the turnbuckle loosen all the strings and two turns tighten them. It is very similar to your current idea, but could be a big time saver.

Thanks for addressing my concerns.

congratulations on finishing the project including building a full prototype; puts you ahead of many other graduating designers.

It is attractive, certainly appears small, with purposeful form. Minimal white and silver is certainly current style, lends itself to multiple colorways either for individual choice or product model differentiation.

You fail to establish “the future of stringed instrumentation could go in future years”:

It’s just a unique shape guitar with an aluminum folding neck. Suggesting unique sound properties isn’t good enough, more information required. All other components appear standard issue, no information on body construction, unsolved issue of string flop. You just can’t get away with the Jetson name and rocket imagery as it’s complete borrowing from 1960’s cartoon. Why not call this guitar the Mappson?

This is evidence why senior projects should be assigned, not chosen. You know too much about the product, others can’t critique without your intimate knowledge discarding them as irrelevant, and where minor iterative upgrades become inflated to major innovations.

To the ignoramuses a hinged neck is useful for easier transport, therefore show the Mappson hinged aluminum fretless in context with some purpose designed packaging or carrying accessories. Perhaps alternate necks to quick-change guitar style.

Everyone has already given you honest feedback regarding your visual representation of your product. On the other hand I wanted to bring to mind a couple issues I see with your physical design/engineering. I’ve built a handful of guitars (non-folding ones), and I have great understanding of what it takes to build a tone-ful instrument.

You have eliminated frets because you say it will increase the sustain of your guitar.

You are actually doing the exact opposite and decreasing the depth of tone possible. Larger frets make it easier and require less finger pressure to achieve a pure and hardened note between the fret and the bridge saddles. This is why guitars that are typically made for metal styles of playing (i.e. Ibanez, BC Rich) use jumbo fret wire.

Also, what scale is the guitar? There are 3 common scales 24.75" (Gibson) 25" (PRS) and 25.5" (Fender), you need to be able to prove that the guitar is intonnatable and in fact at the 12 fret (+1 octave) you are still holding your tuning precisely.

No musician is going to find the joy or practicality in turning the tuners 2 rotations to fold the guitar. Folding guitars are gimics, that’s it. There just isn’t much market value except for the ~1% of people that might buy a folding guitar. Staying in tune is important and not to mention convenient. There would be no way to fold the neck if it didn’t come way out of tune first. The string are in simply too much tension.

Other than that, it would have been nice to see this in a nice contrasted color like orange or something for the renderings with a little to a lot more detail on the components.

Hope this is taken constructively.

I was thinking about this over the weekend and I was wondering what it sounds like. Any chance of a video/mp3/wav? I recall you said that you were in China but the guitar was not . . .

Hey dude.

I have been playing guitar for about 14 years and I set up my own guitars.

I think your main problems are:

  1. Guitar necks have a rod called a truss rod which gives the neck a bit of a curve . Without this curve, all the strings would just sit on the neck and make no sound. You need to resolve this. Maybe come up with a new design for a truss rod which allows it to be split or folded in two.

  2. The reason wood is used is because it has a bit of “give” in it. I think aluminium would be too rigid a material. You also need to work out if the aluminium would oxidise and leave you with a residue on your hands. Maybe consider a coating material such as a polymer film.

  3. You need fret marks to give the user an idea of where they are playing. Not many guitarists are tone geniuses who know from memory where all the notes are.

Other than that, it looks like an interesting challenge. Good luck.

Aluminum neck isn’t as bad as people might think- one of my favorite basses I’ve owned was an aluminum/graphite neck Kramer - truss rod adds punch, but some boltons, set necks, and neck throughs don’t have truss- but that aluminum neck Kramer was a solid bass, nice action no dead spots and a fun instrument- I never had a chance to play the aluminum necked Kramer guitar though

Fretless guitar is an interesting choice- I don’t know too many fretless guitar players (plenty of fretless bass) - would you use flatwound on E A D? Also would you consider laminating with some hardwood for a fingerboard? Sorry if someone asked earlier I didn’t read all the research

I won’t comment on the neck, I am not familiar with guitar structure etc. However about fretless guitar, I love it and its sound. Fretless guitars are around for 20-25 years and there are some Virtuoso (for instance Erkan Ogur who used fretless guitars for the first time, and got some awards with it) with fretless guitar you can play songs outside western styles (I do not know the word to use here sorry). and complete with an e-bow, it becomes a masterpiece