Initial Design Experiments
I started off by using junk lying around the house as building materials. I made several attempts using duck-tape, rubber bands, scrap metal etc… I even took apart a goose-neck lamp for its flexible neck so that I could somehow attach it to the guitar and angle the camera. But none of those things work well. After of just throwing things together and experimenting for a few hours, I finally sat down and really thought about what I was going after.
I originally made two prototypes. Again, both from hardware I had laying around. The first was made out of 1/4″ x 1″ x 16″ piece of aluminum stripping. I bent it in the middle to form a right angle. On one end I drilled a whole and bolted on the camera. I found that a normal hardware bolt could fit into the standard mounting cleat of most cameras. I secured the other end to the to the headstock with a c-clamp. It was very simple and light. The problem was that the aluminum flexed and wobbled too much. I wanted it to be more rigid so that the camera would not pick up more vibrations then necessary. Also the c-clamp didn’t secure tight enough because it only provided one pressure point. Tightening it too much could damage the guitar, too little and it was shaky.
So back to the drawing board. I tried to visualize what I needed and how I could make it. I wanted something really simple, easy to put together, easy to use, economical to make, and something strong and sturdy. I decided to try and think of a way to use wood. Aluminum or plastic was ugly, anyway. Finally, by taking some time to imagine what could work, I came up with a solution.
The second generation prototype was made out of 3 pieces of 1 inch wide wood strips and some bolts. I basically sandwiched the top end of the headstock with two strips of wood and tightened them together with bolts and wing nuts. Then, I attached an arm at a right angle that would be used to hold the camera.
The attachment mechanism worked like a strong, sturdy vice that applied even pressure to the top edge of the headstock. This decreased the the risk of harm to the finish dramatically. The wood design was still simple but a bit heavier, which is somewhat of a drawback. The big advantage is how firmly it attaches.
The rigidity of the wood and the firmness of the attachment dramatically increased the visual effect of the stationary guitar in the foreground, while the background moved. This essentially the inverse of what we are used to seeing on the screen. A very neat effect.
After achieving an acceptable prototype it was time to take a walk to the hardware store to get some nicer materials to make a second one. Here is how I built the second model (the one I have been using for all my videos since…) :
1. Two 5 1/2″ x 1 1/2″ x 1/2″ wood strips (any kind of wood but pine is light wight and economical)
2. One 8″ x 1 1/2″ x 1/2″ wood strips
3. Two “L” shape corner braces and screws
4. Two 1/4″-20 x 2″ bolts. (the “20” refers to the threading)
5. One 3″-20 bolt
6. Three wing-nuts to fit the bolts
How to build it:
1. Cut wood into 2 x 5 1/2″ inch pieces and one 8 inch piece.
2. Drill wholes from about a half inch in from the edges of each piece.
3. Drill holes for corner bracing screws.
4. Create right angle with the 8″ piece and on 5 1/2″ inch pieces.
5. Attach corner braces.
6. Put in bolts, tighten and your done!
The added weight makes the guitar a little top-heavy. Obviously, using a light-wight camera will make it easier to use. The change in weight distribution may take a little getting used depending on how heavy your camera is. The lighter the camera the better.
Changed the way I do video:
Since building my first GuitarCam Mount™ back in May 2010, I have not looked back. You can see that all my videos on you tube now are done using the GuitarCam Mount™. It has made it so easy for me to record my performances, practice sessions, and improvisations, and ideas. With modern technological advances making digital memory so cheap, its very possible to record, and document a lifetime of guitar playing…like a video guitar journal.
I also love how the fretboard and face of the guitar become like a stage on which the strings and fingers dance. The moving back-round adds another layer of dimension and a space for more creativity. In the future I plan to take advantage of the background space by recording songs while moving through interesting landscapes. I definitely want to go hiking with the GuitarCam Mount™!!
Do It Yourself
If you are the DIY type and you build on one, I’d love to see it, as well as any video work you do with it. You can upload your videos using the GutarCam Mount™ on YouTube as response to my how-to-build-it tutorial.