voop - a minimalist instrument that strips away historical baggage to provide a new tool for creative exploration. an ice ax for the sound world.
need a stringed instrument that can withstand harsh environments - a desert proof electric violin. listen considered years of existing electric violin designs and the sonic properties of acoustic and electric instruments. Field-tested dozens of available e-violins. noted that no electric violin can compete with a good acoustic on its own terms. define chose to prioritize a product that would inspire exploration into new sound worlds and would be durable. optimized for signal to noise ratio over typical acoustic properties. Focused on designing a modern instrument reflective of the digital and media infused world. prototype created a rough prototype in 2 days and immediately put it to use in outdoor concert venues. iterate with the basic design resolved after early testing, moved to a 3D modeled, printed and laser cut version affording easy customizability and eventual manufacture in plastic, polycarbonate and wood. outcome a violin looping rig to explore new sound worlds. displayed in a laser cut acrylic case ensuring a delightful and coherent presentation. business opportunities emerged directly from early play. After realizing the magnatism of voop in live testing, this project has become an attempt to understand non-scaleable, but high margin markets as well as design approaches to product, sales and marketing.
A small corner of the voop graveyard may the fragments RIP. Each broken shard shared new knowledge and inspired new skills. Some quietly, some with a snap and a 'sssss' (there is still one out there in the vapor somewhere - amazing what high tension violin strings can do). Does anyone else love McMaster-Carr? What a great company and easy to use website, great service and fantastic selection of fittings. The negative space cat in this image was a happy discovery post laser cutting.
The silent partner in the design process: the materials. Discovering their inherent properties, strengths, weaknesses, and unexpected beauties serves both as limit and inspiration. The project was designed to utilize a minimal number of parts and be extremely easy to build. If production ramps up, the plan is to utilize low impact and fair trade supply chains.
And the tools: While the final product may not require this elegant peg reamer, I love that 400 years of violin design has made it almost impossible to improve on the existing technology except by moving laterally. Which is where this project went – away from closed-box acoustics and toward signal optimization. Pegs, the tailpiece, the bridge, and the button are all fully evolved and refined works of functional form.
The initial two-day prototype: Neck and tailpiece from a $25 fiddle, thin cedar front and back, piezo pickup and some elbow grease. It sounded appropriately raw through a gravely tube amp! The complete touring rig was housed in a prototype case that carried all the hardware for live looping and video projection. Testing While conceptually pleasing, the big case was a BAD idea. A backpack and a slim violin case are much more ergonomic. This is a perfect example of minimalist design sensibility overwhelming common sense.
Making complex curves with free software was suboptimal but sweat and perseverance won out. While the initial prototype in wood took less than a week, making and tweaking this 3D model took much, much longer.