Title:
Laser apparatus for musical instrument
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A laser apparatus for a musical instrument, such as a guitar, is adapted to mount to the instrument and generate laser beams for illuminating selected portions of the instrument during a performance. The apparatus includes a positioning assembly for fixably adjusting the angular orientation of each of the laser beams. The laser apparatus is also capable of being adapted for use with a wide variety of different instruments.



Inventors:
Ushinski, Wayne (Bristol, CT, US)
Application Number:
11/243887
Publication Date:
04/13/2006
Filing Date:
10/05/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63J17/00
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Primary Examiner:
WARREN, DAVID S
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ALIX, YALE & RISTAS, LLP (HARTFORD, CT, US)
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. A laser apparatus for illuminating portions of a musical instrument with laser light comprising: a base; a plurality of holders mounted to said base; a laser unit received in each said holder; and a beam positioning assembly adjustably positioning each said holder at a selected orientation relative to said base wherein the angular orientation of each said holder may be selectively fixed.

2. The laser apparatus of claim 1 wherein the positioning assembly comprises a ball/socket-like connection.

3. The laser apparatus of claim 2 wherein the positioning assembly comprises a set screw which clamps against a ball.

4. The laser apparatus of claim 1 wherein there are four holders and four lasers.

5. The laser apparatus of claim 1 wherein there are six holders and six lasers.

6. The laser apparatus of claim 1 further comprising a bracket to which said base mounts.

7. The laser apparatus of claim 6 wherein said bracket has a substantially L-shaped configuration.

8. The laser apparatus of claim 7 wherein said bracket has a first portion which defines an aperture and a second portion which defines a transverse slot for receiving a latch member extending from said base.

9. The laser apparatus of claim 8, further comprising a biased member associated with said latch member to lock said base to said bracket and a button depressable to release said biased member.

10. The laser apparatus of claim 6 further comprising a plurality of differently configured brackets each of which mountably receives said base.

11. The laser apparatus of claim 6 wherein said bracket has limited flexure spring type construction.

12. A laser apparatus and musical instrument assembly comprising: a stringed instrument having a body, a neck and strings, wherein said strings extend along a portion of the neck; and a laser apparatus mounted to the instrument body, said laser apparatus including at least one laser emitting element that produces a laser beam, each said laser emitting element being positionally adjustable such that said laser beam can be selectively aligned relative to an instrument string.

13. The laser apparatus and instrument assembly of claim 12 wherein the laser apparatus is flexibly mounted to the instrument body such that when the laser apparatus is acted on by a force, each laser beam will directionally change and strike a portion of the instrument neck.

14. The laser apparatus and instrument assembly of claim 12 further comprising a laser beam stop mounted to said instrument neck.

15. The laser apparatus and instrument assembly of claim 14 further comprising a capo assembly having an arm that may be opened and closed to define the laser beam stop.

16. The laser apparatus and instrument assembly of claim 12 wherein the body has a strap nut and the laser apparatus is secured to the instrument through the strap nut.

17. The laser apparatus and instrument assembly of claim 12 further comprising a ball/socket assembly and a clamp element for securing each laser emitting element at a fixed angular position.

18. The laser apparatus and instrument assembly of claim 12 further comprising a platform and a plurality of laterally spaced laser emitting elements mounted to said platform.

19. The laser apparatus and instrument assembly of claim 18 wherein said platform is removably mounted to a bracket secured to said instrument body.

20. The laser apparatus and instrument assembly of claim 19 wherein said platform is suspended over said body in cantilever fashion.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/615,886 filed Oct. 5, 2004.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to musical instrument accessories. In particular, the invention relates to visual enhancement accessories for stringed instruments.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Stringed instruments are widely used in musical performances. These instruments include guitars, violins, cellos, pianos, and harps in their various configurations and embodiments. Conventionally, these instruments are often played in public performances before live audiences. Increasingly, over the past fifty years, these performances have included visual effects designed to enhance the enjoyment of the audience. For example, lighting, pyrotechnics, fog, confetti, smoke, foam, and/or bubbles have been incorporated into the performances. Occasionally, lasers have been used to project beams of light onto surfaces to create patterns and to create images in the space above an audience.

A laser is commonly considered to be a device that produces a monochromatic light. This light is often visually striking due to its brilliance and intensity. Lasers, because of their visual brilliance, have often been used to capture the attention of onlookers. Lasers are available in a variety of colors, in addition to lasers which emit light in non-visible wavelengths. For example, lasers can, depending on their configuration, produce red, green, and blue beams of light. The color of the laser is directly related to the wavelength of light the laser emits. For example, a red laser typically emits a light of about 650 nanometers whereas a green laser typically emits a light of about 532 nanometers.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Briefly stated, the invention in a preferred form is a laser apparatus having a laser emitting element which produces a laser beam. The laser emitting element is mounted to the instrument such that the emitted laser beam can directly or indirectly impinge or otherwise interact with a portion of a musical instrument and/or the musician. The laser emitting element can be adjusted in its orientation relative to surfaces on the musical instrument. This adjustable orientation, when used with a stringed instrument, can allow an emitted laser beam to be aligned relative to a string or other portion of the instrument.

The laser apparatus may include several laser emitting elements. Each laser emitting element may each be aligned relative to a separate string of the instrument.

The laser apparatus may include a mounting assembly which allows the orientation of the laser apparatus to be selectively varied relative to portions of the instrument while the instrument is being played. This can produce a visually stimulating effect.

When multiple laser emitting elements are used, the multiple beams can be scanned, played, or otherwise directed across portions of the instrument. The orientation of the laser apparatus can be manually varied by direct or indirect connection with an extension projecting from the laser apparatus. The orientation of the laser apparatus can alternatively be automatically varied by direct or indirect connection with an actuator in mechanical communication with the laser apparatus.

When the laser apparatus is fixed to a guitar, the emitted laser beams may be interact with the frets and/or the fret board. The emitted laser beams may also interact with a player's fingers or hands, thereby creating a striking visual image.

An object of the invention is to provide a new and improved apparatus for visually enhancing the operation of a musical instrument.

Another object of the invention is to provide an efficient apparatus to direct a laser beam along a defined portion of a musical instrument.

A further object of the invention is to produce a visual effect which is attractive, stimulating, and/or pleasing to an observer of a musical performance.

Still another object of the invention is to incorporate laser emitting elements on a stringed instrument such that light from the emitting elements interact with portions of the instrument and/or the performer.

A further object of the invention is to produce a musical instrument device which in its various embodiments can be easily attached for use with musical instruments and particularly stringed instruments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Other objects and advantages of the invention will be evident to one of ordinary skill in the art from the following detailed description with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a side perspective view of a portion of a guitar incorporating a laser apparatus consistent with the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a rear perspective view, partly in diagram form, of a laser apparatus and mount consistent with the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a top schematic view of a laser apparatus and mount consistent with the present invention.

FIGS. 4A and 4B are, respectively, an elevated side view of a laser beam stop used in conjunction with a laser apparatus consistent with the present invention; and a laser apparatus, laser beam pathway and laser beam stop arrangement which is consistent with the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a laser apparatus and an example of the relative height displacement associated with the laser apparatus consistent with the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a side perspective view of a guitar having a body, a neck, a fret board with frets, and a head stock which is associated with laser apparatus consistent with the present invention.

FIG. 7A is a perspective view, partly in phantom, of a laser beam stop for use with a laser apparatus consistent with the present invention.

FIGS. 7B and 7C are enlarged fragmentary perspective views, partly in phantom; of a guitar and the laser beam stop of FIG. 7A from an opposite location thereof and respectively illustrating the closed and open positions.

FIGS. 8A and 8B are, respectively, a head stock with the relative strings and laser beams; and a rear view of a guitar body with associated laser apparatus consistent with the present invention.

FIGS. 9A, 9B, 9C and 9D show various configurations of orientation positioning elements that can be included with a laser apparatus consistent with the present invention.

FIGS. 10A and 10B are, respectively, a laser apparatus and mount from a rear view; and a top view of a guitar body with associated laser apparatus consistent with the present invention.

FIG. 11 is a top perspective view of a laser apparatus, with the cover thereof removed, mounted to a guitar.

FIG. 12 is a top perspective view of a mounting portion of the laser apparatus and guitar of FIG. 11 with a laser module portion of the apparatus being removed to illustrate a preferred mounting bracket.

FIG. 13 is a fragmentary simplified side view of the laser apparatus and guitar of FIG. 12.

FIG. 14 is a fragmentary side exploded view, partially in schematic, of the laser apparatus and guitar as depicted in FIG. 13.

FIG. 15A is a transverse sectional view of the laser apparatus of FIG. 11, partially in schematic and with portions removed illustrating a positioning assembly for various laser elements.

FIG. 15B is a transverse sectional view similar to that of FIG. 15A illustrating positions for positioning the laser elements in alternative positions to those of FIG. 15A.

FIG. 15C is a top fragmentary sectional view, partly in broken lines and partly exploded, to illustrate how the laser elements may be secured in a fixed angular position.

FIG. 16 is a simplified side view, partially in schematic, illustrating how the laser module assembly may be removably mounted to a bracket in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

With reference to the drawings wherein like numerals represent like parts throughout the several figures, a laser apparatus in accordance with the present invention is generally designated by the numeral 10. The laser apparatus 10 is adapted to enhance the performance aesthetics of an associated musical instrument.

In one embodiment of the invention, the laser apparatus 10 is attached to a stringed instrument, for example a guitar 12. Typically, the guitar 12 will have a body 14, a neck 16, and a head stock 18. It should be understood that the present invention can be adapted for use with other musical instruments.

The laser apparatus 10, as shown in FIG. 1, includes a housing 20. The housing 20 is configured to be attached to the guitar body 14 either directly or indirectly. The attachment can include an intermediate bracket 22 (shown in FIG. 6). The intermediate bracket 22, in one embodiment of the invention, is a flexible or otherwise pliable material. For example, the intermediate bracket 22 can be formed of rubber, silicone, plastic, foam, and/or felt. The intermediate bracket 22, depending on the material, allows for movement, as shown by the double ended arrow in FIGS. 1, 5 and 6, of the housing 20 relative to the guitar body 14. Movement of the laser apparatus may be facilitated by a bar 11 (shown in FIG. 5). This bar 11 can be similar to what is known as a Tremolo arm. In addition, this bar 11 can be connected to an actuator (not shown) which may be manually activated by pressing a button, or may be automatically activated, by such things as receiving sounds or changes in ambient light levels.

The housing 20, as shown in FIG. 3, may include an end tab 24 through which a fastener, such as a screw 26 can pass. The screw 26 fixes the housing to the guitar body 14. In one preferred embodiment, the tab attaches through the strap nut 56 of the guitar. The housing 20, in one embodiment of the invention, is alternatively fixed to the guitar body 14, mount 54, and/or intermediate bracket 22 by adhesive.

The housing 20, as shown in FIG. 2, includes a laser emitting element holder 28. The laser emitting element holder 28 is configured to receive and stably retain a laser emitting element 30. In one embodiment of the invention, the holder 28 is tubular or quasi-tubular, and the laser emitting element 30 is substantially cylindrical and has a rating of about 1 to about 5 mW at wavelengths between about 670 and about 635 nm. It should be understood that lasers having substantially greater or lesser ratings and/or having substantially different wavelengths may be used.

The laser emitting element 30 may be of a variety of shapes and sizes. For example, the laser emitting element 30 may be cylindrical, have a power input 31 (as shown in FIG. 3), and have a laser emission orifice 32. The laser element holder 28, as shown in FIG. 2, includes a lateral direction adjustment mechanism 34 and a vertical height adjustment mechanism 36. Lateral direction and vertical height of the laser emitting element 30 can be adjusted in various ways. For example, screws, slides, swivels, gimbals, joints, articulations, flexures, tubes, guides, and/or rods can be used to make lateral direction and vertical height adjustments.

A desirable characteristic of any of the lateral direction and vertical height adjustment mechanisms is to provide for a stable alignment of the laser emitting element 30. For example, as shown in FIGS. 9A-9D, the laser emitting element 30 can be associated with a pair of tubes which cooperate to provide the positioning. The first tube 38 has an off center cavity for retaining the laser emitting element 30. The second tube 40 retains the first tube 38. A screw 42 may extend through a wall of the second tube 40 such that the screw 42 holds the first tube 38 in place and prevents rotation of the first tube 38 inside the second tube 40. When not held in place, the first tube 38 may, for example, be rotated in order to adjust lateral direction and vertical height due to the off center retention position of the laser emitting element 30.

The lateral direction adjustment mechanism 34 and a vertical height adjustment mechanism 36, as shown in FIG. 2, allows a laser beam 44 to be aligned with a string 46 of, for example, a guitar 12. As shown in FIG. 8, the string 46 and the laser beam 44 may be aligned such that the laser beam 44 is located in a relative position which is above and to the side of the string 46. This positioning allows the laser apparatus 10 to, when moved, project a laser beam 44 such that the laser beam 44 can strike a fret 48 and/or fret board elements 50 on the neck of the guitar 12. For example, the laser beam 44 can be relatively positioned about 1/16, ⅛, 3/16, or ¼ inch above and about 1/16, ⅛, 3/16, or ¼ inch to the side of the string 46. It should be understood that other distances or combinations of distances can be employed.

In one embodiment of the invention, the laser apparatus 10 allows lateral swinging alignment of the laser emitting element 30. This allows the laser emitting element 30 to be adjusted such that the tapered configuration, as shown in FIG. 4, of multiple strings on, for example, a guitar, is taken into account. For example, as shown in FIG. 3, swivel element 52 may allow the laser emitting element 30 to move side to side about a central axis, and may allow the laser emitting element 30 to be held securely in that position.

In one embodiment of the invention, as shown in FIG. 3, the laser emitting element 30 is connected electrically to a power supply 58. The electrical connection may be made by wires 56.

The laser apparatus 10, in one embodiment of the invention is attached to a bracket 54. The bracket 54, as shown in FIG. 1, can be attached to a rear portion of the guitar body 14 by means of the guitar strap nut 56. This mount can provide an attachment to a wide variety of instruments, for example, from different manufacturers.

As shown in the embodiment of FIGS. 11-14, a laser assembly especially adapted for a six string guitar is designated by the numeral 100. A platform 110 mounts six quasi-tubular holders 120 which receive pen-type lasers 22. A battery power supply 130 provides power, and a switch 132 controls power to each of the lasers. With additional reference to FIGS. 15A, 15B and 15C, the underside of each holder 120 has a swivel extension which terminates in a ball 140. The platform forms corresponding laterally spaced sockets 142 which correspondingly receive each of the balls 140 of the holder tubes. The front edge of the platform includes a set screw 144 which corresponds to each of the ball/socket joints and may be torqued to clamp the balls at a given angular position within the socket, such as schematically shown in FIGS. 15A and 15B.

It will be appreciated that the foregoing universal ball/socket swivel joints provide a means wherein the effective lateral spacing of the lasers, as well as the angular vertical and lateral orientation of the lasers, may be selectively adjusted to accommodate a wide range of guitar configurations which will vary according to the various makes of the guitar. It is usually desirable that the lasers be angularly oriented so that they are parallel to the strings in a one to one correspondence with the strings. However, the bridge of the guitar may have a different height above the body different for guitars. In addition, the lateral spacing of the guitar strings will vary from guitar to guitar. The universal mount provided by the ball/socket type mount allows for the laser module assembly 100 to be adapted to a wide variety of guitars or other string instruments.

In one preferred embodiment of the invention as best illustrated in FIG. 16, a specially configured bracket 200 having an inverted L-shaped configuration mounts the base-like platform to the guitar. The leg portion of the bracket includes an opening 202 which allows the bracket to be attached to the guitar through the guitar strap nut 204. The platform 100 may then be removably latched to the bracket. In one form of the invention, the bracket defines a lateral slot 206. A latch 210, which includes a forwardly projecting tongue 212, is mounted to the underside of the platform. The tongue 212 is slidably receivable in the slot 206. A resilient catch 214 is biased into an upper lateral slot 208 for securing the platform in a fixed position. A depressable 150 button at the top of the platform releases the catch to allow the platform to be slidably withdrawn from the bracket.

It should be appreciated that various brackets of different dimensional and shapes may be provided so that specific configurations of a given guitar may be accommodated for a given platform/laser module. The brackets will then accommodate such constraints as the platform height above the guitar body, the spacing of the laser module assembly relative the body and the strings and the height of the module asembly relative to the bridge as well as various shape and dimensional specifics for a given guitar.

In one embodiment, the bracket has a spring-like quality and the platform is suspended in a cantilever-type fashion. A rigid cover 150 over the platform is also provided. The cover 150 may be depressed by the player to also intermittently vary the laser beam orientation of the laser module assembly relative to the strings during the performance. A damping material such as felt 220, 222 may be attached at the underside of the bracket and the platform to dampen vibrations from the instrument.

It should be appreciated that for a four string guitar the laser module assembly would essentially include four supports and four laser elements instead of six.

As shown in FIGS. 4A, 4B, 7A, 7B and 7C a laser beam stop 60 which is a modified capo may also be included. The laser beam stop 60 includes a base 64 which can be fixed to the guitar at, for example, the neck. As shown in FIG. 7A-7C, an arm 62 is attached to the base 64 by a hinge 70 and may also be opened or closed. The hinge may have a limiting stop 66 to limit travel of the arm 62. The arm 62, when closed, may be latched in the closed position by a latch 68 which mechanically associates with the base 64. The laser beam stop 60 includes passages which allow strings 46 to pass through the laser beam stop 60. The laser beam stop 60 includes a surface 72 which is configured to be illuminated by the laser beam 44. The surface 72 can be composed of material that is designed to achieve minimal refraction and/or maximal absorption of the laser beam 44. For example, a textured flat black material.

While preferred embodiments of the foregoing invention have been set forth for purposes of illustration, the foregoing description should not be deemed a limitation of the invention herein. Accordingly, various modifications, adaptations and alternatives may occur to one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention.