Turning an acoustic saxophone into an electronic instrument

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For this 24 hour hackathon I worked with my partner Sam Amin on turning my acoustic saxophone into an electronic instrument. Our plan was to wire the saxophone into a giant keyboard that we would plug into the Makey Makey which I had brought with me. As we triggered the keys from the saxophone plugged into the computer an online music player would play the notes being pressed.


The first challenge was wiring the saxophone in order to be able to read when the keys were being pressed. At first I didn't realize, but with many copper wires the saxophone increased in conductivity like a powerful resistor. This meant that if the wires were naked and touching the body of the saxophone touching it create trigger the buttons. To make sure this didn't happen I made sure not to strip the wires too much and used some rubber tape as well.

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The second challenge was in the fact that saxophone players know that different notes are different combinations of keys. This is unlike a piano keyboard. Therefore we had to reprogram the Makey Makey code to accept combination of keys as inputs. For instance, imagine to get the letter "A" you would have to press on both "A" and "B" at the same time.

The final challenge we ran into was on the time management of the Makey Makey as in the time we gave it to recognize a combination. This was complicated and during the 24 hours we didn't successfully overcome this challenge.

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My only mistake was the first challenge of wiring the saxophone. Other then that I don't think we made any other significant mistake.


Working with Sam on this project was fantastic. Our team work was splendid and it made the entire hackathon lots of fun.

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I brought the hardware and idea to the table but without Sam I would not have had the courage to see the project through. It was real team work!


Sam and I got along really well. We took time to rest during the night and in the morning we stopped working on the project about an hour before the deadline because we agreed on the fact that we didn't have time to solve any more issues.

What I would do differently

Apart, from the wiring trouble I went through I think the only thing I would do differently is bring a camping mattress and a sleeping bag. :)

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Sam and I with our trophy and electrophone prototype