We got AI to design guitars inspired by famous film directors – the results are amazing

Because what better use of AI could there possibly be than designing weird guitars?

Image: Paul Bugler/Midjourney

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Depending on who you talk to, the explosion in popularity of of Generative AI tools like ChatGPT, DALL-E and Bard are either going to change the way we live our lives for the better, or destroy humanity as we know it, but at the moment most people seem to be using it to either cheat in school or, mess around in the hope of generating something either funny or cool. And as it’s been a while since Guitar.com had any essays to write, we’ve mainly been doing the latter – specifically to see if AI can design guitars. What else did you think we were going to do, really?

Specifically, we’ve been using the popular image-generation AI tool Midjourney and prompting it to design guitars based on various parameters. Some went terribly (the less said about the ‘Imagine if Leo Fender had designed a Gibson Les Paul’ debacle the better) but others produced some fascinating results – and one thread in particular.

We starting prompting Midjourney to design instruments that captured the essence of various popular film directors – in particular those with a very defined visual style and mood in their movies. The results don’t exactly produce the best guitars straight out of the gate (indeed generating a guitar with six strings seems to be trickier than it should be) but they absolutely capture the essence of the directors in question, and in some cases produce some quite beautiful results.

Let’s get lost in the machine…

Guillermo del Toro

The Mexican filmmaker is known for his dark takes on the fantastical and these four guitars certainly fit that vibe, with ornate double-cut instruments accented with intricate and macabre engravings to the top and bags of brushed brass all over the place. There’s a PRS-meets-Zemaitis vibe to these instruments that wouldn’t feel out of place at the most excessive end of Paul Reed Smith’s Private Stock line.

Stanley Kubrick

It’s understandable that a director famed for his lavish and intricate set designs and meticulous attention to the smallest detail would be represented by a series of instruments that seem almost too ornate to be practical instruments, but there’s beauty here. There’s a hint of the Overlook Hotel in the intricate geometric patterns at play, while the mixture of dark wood and brushed steel feels like it could have been pulled from a 70s sci-fi masterpiece. And as for those bizarre 7-fret jet black acoustics? Well it’s all very Monolith-y isn’t it?

Tim Burton

While Tim Burton’s gothic sensibilities have been brought to bear on everything from Batman and Edward Scissorhands to Alice In Wonderland and Sweeny Todd, it’s clear that for these guitars Midjourney has zeroed in on the vibe and style of one Burton film – the classic Christmas/Halloween animated musical, The Nightmare Before Christmas. There’s so many bones, tentacles, black and white pinstripes and even a very familiar looking skeleton face, we can’t imagine these guitars being used for anything but a Danny Elfman soundtrack.

The Duffer Brothers

The brains behind the wildly popular Stranger Things franchise have two important cultural touchstones – the 1980s and strange supernatural motifs, and these guitars tick both boxes. What could be more Stranger Things than an ornately carves SuperStrat with full ‘sucking you into the upside down’ horror, or indeed a double-cut axe emanating an ethereal red glow? If Eddie Munson ever feels like ditching his BC Rich, maybe he can grab one of these instead?

Wes Anderson

Colourful, weird, a little bit twee… Wes Anderson’s unique visual style is so distinctive that it spawned an entire Instagram account dedicated to finding unintentional examples in the real world. These guitars are perhaps the most perfect encapsulation of director into instrument that the AI has generated so far – bright, sunny, a little kitsch and a little weird, we could see every one of these guitars on the wall of a lo-fi bedroom pop artist or hanging on the wall of a pawn shop. We’d buy every one – even the eight-string acoustic with the square soundhole.

Hayao Miyazaki

These guitars inspired by the Studio Ghibli maestro are perhaps the most overtly joyful and delightful of our set – like Miyazaki’s movies, each guitar creates a distinct but detailed world within the confines of its body, creating the sort of wonderful artistic statement we never expected to see in this experiment.

Which are your favourites, and what director would you like to see influence some guitar designs? Let us know and we might try them out…

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