Meet the Makers: Idan Beck and Josh Stansfield of gTar
For today’s installment of Meet the Maker, I decided to veer toward the tech side of things and introduce you to two inventors who are shaking up the way people make music. When I met with founder Idan Beck and brand development lead Josh Stansfield last fall, I got a chance to check out their new product, the gTar, which makes it easy for everyone—expert and novice alike—to make music right off the bat. So I wanted to give you a sneak peek into how gTar came about, all the things you can do with it, and a chance to hear the nerve-wrecking, behind-the-scenes story of their product debut.
Idan: Well, I grew up in Israel and was exposed to music as a kid. My parents started me in piano lessons when I was about 3 years old, and I was also obsessed with computers. I remember going over to my cousin’s house and only wanting to play on the computer. I switched to learning guitar when I was around 10 years old, and by that time I was obsessively programming as well. I was sort of getting into trance and electronic music, and making it on the computer, but it was more challenging because I thought about music the way a guitarist would, not a programmer.
Jumping ahead, I was working at Microsoft as an engineer when the first iPhone came out, and that’s when I really started focusing on what eventually became the gTar—on nights and weekends, of course.
Okay, tell us a little bit more about the gTar. What’s the one-sentence explanation?
Josh: gTar is an app-enabled smart guitar that makes music fun and accessible regardless of previous experience.
Idan: By building lots of other prototypes.
Idan: Well, in doing our first run through and sound check in preparation for Disrupt, we discovered that the prototype we were using to demo—which I can now say was a piece of crap by comparison—had a problem with the output. When we plugged it in at the auditorium there was this high pitched ringing noise. If we’d gone on stage with it, the whole room would have sounded like a subway car hitting the breaks and being amplified by the speaker system. Thankfully, this was the night before, so after a trip to the hardware store, we basically set up a mini workshop in our hotel room. We ripped out the audio jack and had to solder in a completely new one. Then, of course, we also had the iPhone spontaneously reset itself while I was on stage, but luckily it was up and running in time for the actual demo.
Josh: I think for me it’s seeing kids use it. I gave a presentation to high school students recently and playing just a guitar is not how they think about music anymore. They are thinking about technology and music as a part of that. But we’ve also seen kids, really little kids, who haven’t had any guitar experience be able to pick it up and figure it out so easily.
Idan: Well we started out with six months of user feedback from Kickstarter, and we went forward with a redesign—a facelift with new button colors and placement. It just made it more usable. We decided to make the app not just replicate what a guitar could do, but really focused on the interface to make it as easy to use as possible.
Hi, I'm Brit, the founder and CEO of Brit + Co. I'm a young mom of two, tech nerd and design-inclined lady who has a zillion hobbies and curious about... just about everything! My mission from the beginning has been to unlock women's creativity and courage to try new things so that they can find the path to their true passions.