Designing a Cost-Efficient Programmable Multi Effects Pedal For Electric Guitar

Galletta, Jack, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Powell, Harry, EN-Elec/Computer Engr Dept, University of Virginia
JACQUES, RICHARD, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

The technical project my team worked on last semester serves a key purpose in the market situation laid out in my STS research paper. The STS research I conducted primarily focused on how guitar effects change the music industry and how they serve as an important tool for modern musicians to continually raise the bar on modern music. The main drawback that I had discussed however, was that a lot of the industry standard devices that you need to create these effects often runs into the many thousands of dollars. Devices such as the Line 6 multi effects platform are essentially the standard for what a guitarist may need to produce the sorts of effects that they are looking for and starts at around $1700 for the most basic model. These types of devices are so key to musicians looking to produce new and innovative sounds and the price alone creates a massive barrier to entry into the world of music production and creation.
Enter our technical project, an all-in-one multi-effects pedal built on a cheap, $20 Texas Instruments embedded board. This project is a completely self-contained and programmable guitar effects unit, just like the aforementioned Line 6 device, but was constructed for under $60 and retains a large number of capabilities featured on the Line 6 device. Our pedal project produces effects using various digital signal processing (DSP) methods, such as sampling an incoming guitar signal and saturating the signal in order to produce an overdrive effect. The code design of the project allows for users to modify integers in the C code file to tweak effects and really dial in their tone. Plans for the project include an open-source library of effects where users of the pedal can contribute their own coded effects to be downloaded by anyone who has access to the library. This project can be a huge step forward for many guitarists, as it provides a budget alternative to expensive multi-effects pedal units, giving users the power to experiment with nearly limitless tone options in a single self-contained unit.
In conclusion, our final project accomplished what we set out to do: build a budget friendly alternative to the popular modern day multi effects unit. Despite some of our initially planned effects not being fully implemented within the timeframe of the project, the framework that we constructed for our device supported a high degree of modularity and customizability such that anyone who could write a C code file could program their own effects onto our device. This project was both a great technological and societal achievement for our team and provided a great deal of challenges and learning experiences along the way.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Electric Guitar, Effects Pedal, Multi effects, Guitar, Pedal, Programmable, MSP432

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering
Technical Advisor: Harry Powell
STS Advisor: Richard Jacques
Technical Team Members: Jack Galletta, Sunny Hwang, Yaman Shrestha

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