3

For reference, a theremin cello is similar to the classic thermin of 50s sci-fi sound effects fame, but packaged with a neck and played like a cello with the left hand selecting pitch along the neck, and the right hand controlling attack and volume.

Whereas a guitar has several (usually 6) stretched strings and selects pitch with a similar UI with the left hand, and controlling attack and amplitude with the right hand, but in a very different manner.

But is there a neck design which incorporates both systems? And some crazy electronics to switch and blend? If not, can I patent it?

4

A few thoughts...

A theremin cello has a ribbon that controls the pitch, a guitar has frets. In effect this is similar to having a fretless and fretted neck in one. Is it doable? Perhaps. Is it practical? Probably not.

The electronics are no problem, in fact all you need is a "blend" control.

Another thing to consider is the pitch range of the theremin. The theremin cello has only the equivalent of a single string with a huge range. To combine this with a guitar and make it play the same pitch would require some tweaking. Again, this is similar to trying to play a fretted and a fretless instrument simultaneously.

The whole idea is somewhat reminiscent of the "guit-organ", in which each fret corresponds to a pitch on an electric organ, but which can also be played as a regular guitar. This solves the ribbon/frets problem but what you are left with is not much like a theremin at all.

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That's for sure a highly unusual idea, and probably original. Maybe someone knows something similar, but I don't think anyone can tell you for sure that it doesn't exist elsewhere and only the patents office itself can tell you if it's not already patented.

Btw, it's outside the scope of this stack, but, from little I know about patents, you have to patent a working apparatus to produce a certain result, not the idea or result itself. If someone finds a different way to produce the same result, say, a different mechanical process to change between the normal strings and the theremin, they would probably not be infringing on your patent.

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There are several questions here.

Is there a neck design like this? Don't know - never seen one. (I can think of several alternative ways of doing the same thing though.)

Will it work? Probably, provided the contact ribbon can be mounted where it doesn't interfere with the strings or frets. On the back of the neck, or build a wider fingerboard and mount the ribbon on an unfretted part of the board?

Can it be patented? Probably not worth the effort unless you already know (and can afford) a good patent lawyer. Even if you are granted a patent, it will cost you money to defend the patent in court if someone steals the idea anyway. You need to talk to a lawyer about this really. (You also need to get it patented before one of us does... I'm half kidding...)

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