Welcome to our Kickstarter Campaign! Here we are in the home stretch, just a few seconds to go! A HUGE heartfelt thanks to all our backers - with your support the Wond has just received a Wonderfully big bold and strong a launch! Our focus now shifts to building this great big array of Wonds for all our backers, so look for updates as events unfold into the future! Thank you ALL!!!
The Wond is a furiously powerful, easy to use hand-held exciter and sustainer for your guitar strings. Did you know the Wond can also be used as a Powered Slide? On an electric guitar, the Wond works together with your guitar pickups to give you full control of a variety of note attacks and timbre. The Wond initiates string vibration instantly, and it works on bass guitars too! Please scroll further to see several example videos.
Paul Vo Talks About the Origins of the Wond
... and here is the audio of just the music from the video above, extended past where the video ends to capture more of this spontaneous moment:
About the Wond
The Wond is the most powerful handheld exciter, sustainer and controller ever invented. It is an intuitive, versatile magnetic plectrum for the strings of your guitar, enabling you to create infinite sustain and harmonics that will take your playing to a whole new level. Based on the technology behind the Moog Guitar (2008), and the Vo-96 Acoustic Synthesizer, the Wond represents the third generation of our patented collocated vibration control system to drive steel strings with an aggressive response — stronger and faster than you've experienced with any sustainer.
How Does It Work?
To use the Wond, simply hold it between your index finger and thumb, just above the tip where the coils are located. Place the Wond over the string you wish to excite. Pinch the Wond between your index finger and thumb to apply power to the string. The more that you squeeze, the more the string will excite.
The Wond also offers tactile feedback in the form of a vibration you can feel at your fingers as you play. The intensity of the vibration will increase as the string vibrates with more force. This allows you to touch-sense the strings with the Wond as clearly as you do when you are using a pick. You won't need to look! You can close your eyes and feel the music.
If you position the Wond at various locations along the strings from bridge to nut, you will bring out different harmonics. You can also use the Wond to 'brush' harmonics out of the strings by moving it like a pick, back and forth across the axis of the string.
Exciter Coils - These are the coils used to excite the string of your instrument. They are controlled by how firmly you pinch the Wond. You can also use the different switches on the Wond to control their behavior.
LED “Headlight” Guide/Slide – Dual purposed to offer a slide much like a traditional guitar slide. The durable notched tip allows you to slide notes on the string while manipulating them with the Wond. In addition, the Wond’s “Headlight” LED helps you align Wond to the string visually – when the LED light falls on the string you are close to the sweet spot!
Multi-colored LED – Illuminates when the Wond is activated by the Pinch Control. The LED is also used as a battery charge indicator. It will glow less and less blue and more red as the battery depletes, giving you a visual warning of when to charge the Wond.
Pinch Zone - This is the area of the Wond that you pinch to excite the string. Pinching this spot governs the Wond’s behavior. With Pressure Switch set to Off, pinching will simply apply power to the string. With the Pressure switch On, the pressure you apply to the Wond is translated into a control signal governing the Wond's power and harmonic response.
Morphic Switch - Selects between two different Wond behaviors that produce different sets of timbres.
Haptic Switch - In the On position, this will provide tactile feedback to the player through the Wond so the string can be “felt” as the Wond approaches the “sweet spot”. This feedback changes according to how close the Wond is to the string and also according to the amplitude of string vibration. There is enough information in this tactile feedback to play by feel, even with your eyes closed.
Power Switch - Turns all power off to the Wond when not in use.
Charging Connection - Located at the rear of the Wond, this allows you to recharge the Wond when the battery is low or depleted.
Additional Videos of the Wond
Wond as a Slide!
Here is something no other sustainer can do. The video below shows the Wond operated as a Power Slide. It's driving the string with sustain and acting as a slide - simultaneously!
To do this you run the Wond along the string like a slide, with the grooved LED "headlamp" of the Wond riding the string. In this video we demonstrate this using one of our first prototypes with the tip shape updated to be like our current production-ready Wond design.
Click on this to hear the video sound track without voice over:
Wond Techniques - Magnetic Thumbpicking
The Wond's attack can be very fast or as slow as you like. It depends on your playing technique. Slow is easy; if you approach the string slowly, you'll get a slow attack. To play fast, even staccato, you position the Wond on the string and then initiate the note by pinching the Wond. To the musician this feels like magnetic thumb-picking. Here is a short demo video I made while exploring possibilities with the first prototype:
Holiday Childress Experiences the Wond!
Holiday Childress is an accomplished guitarist and singer who is now performing solo. He recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund his first solo CD. Prior to his solo work Holiday was lead guitarist and vocalist for the band, The Goodies.
Holiday came over to our facility here in Asheville and tried the Wond for the first time ever. In this video, he's had about 5 minutes to "rehearse" with the Wond before we captured this spontaneous music. He's never even seen it before. His Wond technique isn't quite perfect yet. Give him 10 more minutes! That's how easy the Wond is to use!
I played the acoustic guitar in the background. My lab assistant listened...
Acoustic Guitar Demonstrating Wond's Power
This next video demonstrates the Wond on an ordinary acoustic guitar. It's quite loud even unamplified. It shows how you draw different timbre from a string depending on where along the length you place the Wond. It also shows how to get a great "tape reverse" sound live. I'm ending the notes by lifting slightly off the fret with the string driven hard. The hard-driven note ends with a short buzz that sounds a lot like a reverse attack. Does the forward segment sounds more reversed than the reversed segment to you? It's debatable I guess. But clearly this sounds very reversed, though it is forward... until it plays in reverse...
Wond Plays a Dulcimer?
Yes, it can and it does. And just this fast too, even with those short thick tight strings. In this video Michael Koehler demonstrates the Wond on a beautiful dulcimer from his collection of fine instruments:
Wond on Violin and Lap Steel
If an instrument has steel strings, you can play it with the Wond. This short video briefly demonstrates the Wond on a pink violin, one of the quirkier instruments in Michael Koehler's collection. At the end there is a bit of lap steel. These are basic Wond applications. It just works!
Frequently Asked Questions
How does the Wond differ from other sustainers?
Really the only similarity between the Wond and other sustainers is the sustaining function itself - and even that behaves very differently with far more power, fast fast string activation, and richer timbres that you learn to control with playing technique. The Wond acts as a slide, and with an electric guitar it injects a variety of attack "events" when you pinch it to start a note. No other device comes even close to having these features. Please see the Kickstarter FAQ way at the bottom here for even more contrasts!
How long does the Wond operate on a charge?
It takes roughly 90 minutes to charge the light and powerful lithium ion battery inside the Wond. On a full charge, you can drive a fat string to max amplitude continuously for about the same length of time, 1.5 hours. But the Wond only consumes drive power when it is pinched and driving a string. Realistically this translates into many hours of actual playing on a charge, quite enough for the longest session or gig. At NAMM the Wond was used all day and charged only at night.
Will I need to alter my instrument to use the Wond?
No! The Wond will work with any steel stringed instrument without modifications to the instrument itself.
The battery will eventually wear out. What then?
The Wond uses a custom lithium ion battery. After hundreds of charge cycles over 3-5 years all such batteries lose capacity. A qualified technician can replace your Wond battery with a new one. We'll have them available.
Will the Wond drive a bass?
Yes! In fact, it will drive just about any instrument with steel strings. Pianos, harps, violins – you name it! Different kinds of strings do respond differently, so please experiment!
Does the Wond need special strings like the Vo-96 and the Moog Guitar do?
No! The Wond will drive any string that responds magnetically. Of course, some strings are more magnetically responsive than others. The Wond will respond most strongly to strings with a lot of iron, steel or nickel content (like our special Strings for Acoustic Synthesis). Standard acoustic strings do have a responsive steel core but the phosphor bronze wrap adds an unresponsive mass, making their overall response somewhat tame but quite usable. Different brands of acoustic strings have different qualities of response. Most electric strings work great with Wond. Coated strings too. In particular, try D’Addario EXP for acoustic and Skull strings for electric. I am seeing new more responsive string formulas being introduced, because not just the Wond but all magnetic pickups work better with magnetically responsive strings.
The Wond has a slide feature built into the tip. How durable is this tip?
The slide featured in the Wond is made up of a strong, durable material. Under normal use, this should last for the lifetime of the Wond.
How the Wond Came into Existence
After developing the Vo-96, I wanted to design something simpler. Something that would enable everyone to enjoy the acoustic synthesis experience, but without the cost and instrument-level commitment of a Vo-96. I decided to build a single-channel system into a compact handheld enclosure, making it lightweight and easy to handle to put ferocious excitation and sustain at your fingertips!
We took the first Wond prototypes (then still called the `Vo Wand) on the road to the Winter NAMM 2015 show in January. A trade show filled with musicians provided the perfect setting to road test my design. At NAMM I performed many musical demonstrations a day. This really allowed me to experience Wond as a musician. I also took careful note of the reactions of those who tried Wond for themselves. The results were fantastic!
Everyone really loved the sounds that they could produce with Wond. They loved the light weight and the possibilities for control the Wond offered. One could easily tease out harmonics and overtone-rich timbres by positioning the Wond various distances from the bridge. You could arpeggio a chord, and even do crazy things like using Wond simultaneously as a sustainer and a slide. It is a blast to play!
How to back our project:
1. Choose Reward – Select a reward from the options on the right.
2. Stay in Touch – Please feel free to contact us with any questions or comments you have. We will be emailing all participants with regular updates, production status, inside news and more.
3. Relax – After the project ends, we will contact you to collect your shipping information. Until then, we ask that you help us by spreading the word about our campaign!
4. Wond Arrives! - When your Wond arrives, we would love to hear from you! Visit our website and Facebook pages and post your pictures and videos of you showing what you can do with the Wond.
Paul Vo (Left) Creator of the groundbreaking Acoustic Synthesis technology behind the Moog Guitar, the Moog Lap Steel, and the Vo-96, inventor Paul Vo has danced upon the bleeding edge of technology since he was old enough to hold a screwdriver. His history of innovation covers a broad spectrum of tech, from influential creations for such legendary brands as QSC Audio and Yorkville Sound, to high-efficiency manufacturing processes.
Paul Vo’s innovative designs have intertwined music and technology in ways others have only imagined, creating an entirely new and unimagined palette of sonic colors for artists to create with.
Michael Koehler (Right) A self-acknowledged technology disciple, Michael Koehler has spent pretty much his entire adult life in the music industry. A veteran musician and sound designer, Koehler’s works have appeared in film, television, and online. His lengthy resume includes work in recording, engineering, product management, and numerous other facets of the music industry. His deep business acumen makes him ideally suited for running the day to day operations of the company.
We recently appeared in the April 2015 issue of Guitar Player. Editor Michael Molenda selected the Wond in his Top 5 Pick of Winter NAMM 2015!
Billy Cardine is a genre-blurring composer, slide guitarist and multi-instrumentalist from Asheville, NC. An active performer, session musician and producer, Billy's unmistakable sound has brought him to Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, the Ryman Auditorium and throughout the world. His many current projects explore the sounds of Americana, Big Band and Combo jazz, Newgrass and Indian Classical. Learn more about Billy at billycardine.com
Bassist Jake Wolf's diverse and beautifully musical work is often heard here in the Southeast US with some of the regions finest musicians. An in-demand player for both stage and studio, he is a former student of the renowned Ali Akbar College of music, and a graduate of the Music Production program at The Evergreen State College. Learn more about Jake at jakewolfmusic.com
Wond on piano string short video segment courtesy of Auracene and Mark Jones.
Risks and challenges
The Wond prototype has been thoroughly and exhaustively tested, and is almost ready for production. Due to the possibility of unforeseen changes in component availability, we reserve the right to make changes in our production schedule. In all cases, we will keep you informed of any changes if and when they arise.
Rest assured. I've been developing products for more than two decades now. If you've been in a band, you've almost certainly used pro gear I've brought from idea to production. Compared to many things I've done the Wond is actually a smaller and simpler challenge. My mind and my heart are totally in it. I'll handle whatever comes up and get it done for you.
Since introducing the Wond at NAMM, we have experienced countless inquiries and high demand. If you want to purchase a Wond, we recommend you do so as soon as possible. Orders will be processed on a first-ordered, first-shipped basis.
You can help! The more backing we receive, the more power we have to overcome obstacles and speed the process. Spread the word — every pledge helps. Even smaller pledges help show interest, and that weighs positively with our investors. Thank you for your support!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter