Together with its partners, Bayer MaterialScience has developed a concept for a futuristic cello made out of aliphatic polyurethane. The use of a transparent plastic material makes the instrument lightweight and also makes it possible to incorporate a whole series of optical effects courtesy of integrated electronics and other digital means. (Source: Teams Design Company)
Nice article, Elizabeth. Ultimately, the proof will have to be in the sound. I remember when Ovation introduced an acoustic fiberglass guitar some years ago. It was light, and many musicians loved it. I preferred the sound of wood. It will be interesting to see what happens with these new instruments.
Indeed, Rob, no matter how good an instrument looks or how many bells and whistles it has, it's still not worth very much if it doesn't sound good. Still I think it's quite innovative and a good thought to allow people to see the music as much as hear it.
For an electric instrument the material may not matter too much and reminds of the Ampeg Baby Bass from the early Sixties or Dan Armstrong guitars from the late Sixties. On acoustic instruments I've never heard anything that could replace wood. I have a Garrison guitar that used a glass resin for the kerfing (framework), binding and bridge plate, and wood everywhere else. All the wood pieces were laser cut and glued to the one piece glass resin framework. The result was a very bright, responsive and distinctive instrument that still sounds very much like wood. Gibson bought the company and then a few years later closed the factory and killed the Garrison line, a very odd business move.
As many have already said, wood instruments sound best when made out of wood. The Theremin was entirely new and different. This complex partnership, with musicians included, could create something completely different and innovative.
This is cool to look at. I hope it's just a test run for something more.
I didn't even think of that, Chuck, but you're right. Great point. This could bring a new level of experience to people who are deaf. Though they may not be able to hear the music, they can experience it in other ways. And because many times people who have lost one sense have their other senses heightened, it may give them just as pleasant an experience as if they could actually hear the music itself.
Yes, Nadine, you're right. I do think that this is meant to be something completely innovative and not really mimic the sounds of classic wood instruments, but rather enhance them with more sensory experience. Although I do think the music coming from it is still supposed to sound quite good. I think at this point it's just a prototype but I do expect more experimentation in the future from Bayer and its partners.
You point out something important, tekochip--this is an electric, not acoustic instrument. So the material is not quite as crucial to the sound as it would be with an acoustic instrument. You sound like quite an instrument aficianado with your talk of guitars...or perhaps just a guitar player? :)
I spent a number of years as a club musician and in the process I collected far too many instruments and amplifiers. I remember a DJ making the comment, "If you ask a guitar player what his first guitar was he'll name three".
Right now I'm down to a dozen guitars and a stand up bass in the living room (doesn't everybody have one?).
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