Overview / Auxilia, The Project
Auxilia is an all new type of guitar stand that clamps onto a guitar. It allows you to set down your guitar safely where ever you want. It tucks away with your guitar in a hardshell case and lies flat against the guitar while you're playing. The video above highlights the usability and convenience of Auxilia versus the shortcomings and frustrations of a traditional guitar stand.
The inspiration for the project came from my love for guitars and frustrations with convenience and safety.
All of the need finding, primary and secondary research, designing, engineering, and testing was done by me for my thesis project for the Engineering Design Innovation master's program at Northwestern University.
Graham, the User
Auxilia was designed for the 3rd member of this band, Graham. He's a small gig player who is dependent on his guitar, it puts food on his table and gas in his car. Graham's guitar is always in one of three modes: Sleep mode, play mode, or rest mode. Auxilia is here to fit with Graham's guitar in the case during sleep mode, stay out the way during play mode, and protect the guitar during rest mode.
When Graham is done with the show, he puts his guitar back in it's case (sitting behind his stool). He knows this is the safest place for it, protecting it from impact damage and environmental changes. During sleep mode, the guitar is safe.
When Graham is playing his guitar, it's safely in his arms. He takes care of it, making sure to not bang it against anything on stage. During play mode,
the guitar is safe.
When Graham takes a break from playing, like in this picture, he sets his guitar down and leans it against the wall. There isn't room for a guitar stand on stage, and putting the guitar in the case takes too long. During rest mode, the guitar is unprotected.
See the Final Product
Research / Day in the Life of a Guitar
Guitars at Home
The project started in the area of guitar storage. Through experience, I felt like there was no good way to store a guitar at home that kept it safe, accessible, and aesthetically pleasing.
To learn more about how people stored their guitars, what they cared about, and the tensions they faced, I went to the homes of guitar players and interviewed them, gaining empathy along the way. I also set up an Instagram account asking people to send me pictures of their guitars at home.
Through all three pathways, the notion of a leaning guitar (against a wall, on a chair, a bed, etc.) kept coming up. Whether it be for permanent storage, temporarily setting it down, or specifically placing it for the looks of the guitar. The pictures to the right are from the Instagram submissions and interviews.
Guitars in Action
Things really started to get interesting when I started looking at guitars and behaviors during during shows. The pictures to the left show all of the different work arounds I saw for a guitar stands during small gig performances: using a tuner as a cushion between the guitar and the wall, leaning guitars against amps, setting the guitar on top of a soft case, setting a guitar halfway into a hardshell case, and my personal favorite, bungee chording a soft case to a dolly.
As performances get bigger, so does the size of the stage, allowing room for a guitar stand. Once the performances get big enough, the artist has roadies that take care of the guitars for them. But, these small time gigs have created a need for a guitar stand that doesn't take up space on stage and doesn't add to the amount of gear that needs to be carried to and from shows.
Design Requirements /
What Do the Users Need and Want
For the players shuffling between gigs, this stand needs to not add to the amount of gear, it can't take up room on the stage when not in use, and it can't get in the way of the performance.
For the at home players, this stand needs to mimic the convenience and aesthetics of a leaning guitar, while keeping it safe. The stand should also have a place to go when the guitar is stored in the case.
Requirements to Satisfy Both
The stand be just as portable as the guitar itself, and it shouldn't add to the amount of gear that has to be carried.
“You don’t want to have to carry around a bunch of stuff”
- Karl N.
The stand itself or the attachment mechanism cannot harm the guitar or leave behind a trace when removed.
“I don't want a foot print on the guitar when the stand is taken off”
- Carl K.
The stand should not affect the acoustics of the guitar and should not get in the way of the user's playing motions.
“It shouldn't affect how
- John W.
The user needs to be able to deploy and close the stand with one hand, since the other hand will be holding the guitar.
“You want to forget about
- Chris S.
Since the stand should mimic the look of a leaning guitar and should not be the focus.
“I want the front to look like the guitar, the natural look”
- Chris S.
Final Design /
High Fidelity, Functioning Prototype
Clamps to the
guitar with tension
Thin enough to fit in
a hardshell case
Auxilia in open (stand) position
Back of guitar with Auxilia
attached and in closed position
Does not add to
Bottom back of guitar, when the guitar is set down, the latch is pushed up, moving magnets away from the leg, allowing it to swing open. The the stand is picked up, the magnets move back down, so that when you close the leg, it stays closed
Top back of guitar body, where
the neck starts, top of Auxilia
when set down
Does not touch the
back of the guitar
Bottom of guitar, bottom of
Prototyping / Rapid Iterations
I started with three initial designs, one that attaches to the bottom peg of the guitar, one that supports the bottom of the guitar, and one the supports the guitar from the top. I showed the prototypes to six people. People overwhelmingly trusted the one that supported the guitar from the top the most.