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43 in. long x 16 in. high x 6 in. depth 

plus Power Supply 13 in. x 13 in. x 13 in.

Currently In the collection of the Artist 


Assembling the Rod Guitar


The Tuning Keys (potentiometers)

The Rod Guitar is a musical instrument that uses a powerful stepper motor to vibrate metal rods.

The guitar body acts as a sound board, and the neck provides an interface.

The sound is controlled by pressing electrified wires against metal plates mounted along the fret board.

rod guitar 8.jpg
Guitar _ Lincoln Center 1.jpg

The Rod Guitar at Home-Made Instrument Day, Lincoln Center, NYC 1979

Richard Marriotte performs on the Rod Guitar

The Center for New Music, San Francisco 2021

8 minute video

Norman Explains the Rod Guitar

1 minute 52 second video

About my instrument, the ROD GUITAR

I had been experimenting with using stepper motors to vibrate metal rods for many years before creating the acoustic sculpture Rotate Resonate in 1989, and also several musical instruments, including Rod Organ 1 in 1997, Rod Organ 2 in 2005, and the Rod Guitar seen here.


Stepper motors were created for computer control. They move a single step with each pulse of a square wave signal. A single full rotation of the Rod Guitar's powerful motor requires 200 steps. Rods mounted on the motor's axle vibrate with each step of the motor to create musical sound.

The wooden body of the acoustic guitar acts as a soundboard, acoustically resonating to amplify the vibration patterns of the vibrating rods.

The guitar's fretboard is the interface between the musician and the vibrating rods. The musician's fingers press upon wires that are stretched over the fretboard and, when pressed, the wire touches a metal plate mounted on the fretboard to complete an electronic circuit. The pressure and location of the finger pressure controls the frequency of the vibrating rods.

© N.T. 1995

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