Mumbai-based techie's new product makes guitar lessons easier
A Mumbai-based techie has developed a product to help people learn the guitar easily, and will demonstrate the same at a workshop tomorrow
The tech world is filled with esoteric descriptions. So when we enter Shubham Bansal’s apartment in Chandivali, we are wary. Bansal, 29, has developed a product that promises to help a learner get the hang of a guitar in a one-hour session. It’s called Guitar Bro, and so we question the name. His response doesn’t sound like Latin to us. “It’s a bro that makes you pro,” he answers, adding, “It’s meant to be your friend. And when I was thinking of a name, this sounded pretty cool too.” Frankly, for someone who’s never laid hands on any musical instrument barring the flute during our school band days — that requires zero talent — his response is encouraging.
Don’t give up
Bansal came to Mumbai from Rajasthan to pursue electrical engineering at IIT Bombay. After graduating in 2012, he began working in operations for Ola Cabs and Tiny Owl. In 2015, he started MINK, a dry cleaning venture. And while doing all of that, he was also teaching the guitar — to students aged nine to over 50. It is then that he gained a firm understanding of guitar learners and teachers. “So, the school kids are sent for music classes. Collegians learn the guitar from their friends. But once you start working, the effort put into learning the instrument increases and people often give up after a few sessions. It pains me when someone tells me, ‘I spent R5,000 on a guitar and now it’s just lying at home.’ That’s why I invented Guitar Bro,” he explains.
The Guitar Bro toolkit comprises a plier, plectrum, a booklet with notes for over thirty songs and a one-month work plan.
A quick masterclass
Guitar Bro is primarily made up of two components — a plier and a cassette-resembling mechanism embedded with four buttons in red, blue, green and yellow. The buttons enable you to play a chord by moving just one finger on the fretboard. When you’re pressing the blue button, for instance, you’re playing a D. You mount the mechanism onto the fretboard and use the plier to firmly hold it in place. Bansal hands over an acoustic guitar to us and gives us a plectrum. He instructs us to do a free strumming exercise and not look at the tool. We strum four times before he instructs us to press the green button with our little finger.
As our fingers alternate between the buttons, Bansal starts singing Arijit Singh’s Raabta, and it is only then that it strikes us that we’re actually strumming to a tune. And it’s only been five minutes. It’s also deeply meditative.
So, how long will it take us to learn the guitar without using Guitar Bro? “One month,” Bansal replies, adding his goal has never been that to make people dependent on the device. “They’re exactly like training wheels. The mechanism is also fragmented i.e. you can remove one button, so you’re left with three. Then, you can practise one chord in its entirety. After you use it for 15 days, the work plan in the tool kit will instruct you to do that,” he tells us.
The beginner’s kit, that is manufactured in Saki Naka, is available on Amazon for R2,999 and Bansal’s been receiving around 125 orders per month. He also regularly conducts workshops at co-working spaces, and the next one is tomorrow. He recalls his first workshop at Mood Indigo in 2017 with 500 people. “For so many people it was their first exposure to an instrument. You could see them smiling only two minutes into using our product. That was the tipping point.”
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