VLNLAB has created the world's first concert-quality 3D printed violin and viola and is the brainchild of a lifelong music enthusiast, violist, and luthier.
A pioneer in applying digital fabrication technologies to musical instrument construction, the goal of VLNLAB is to offer both a high-quality concert instrument for sale here on Kickstarter, as well as an open-source design for a cost-effective and tonally superior 3D-printable instrument that will raise the bar for student-level instruments the world over and can be produced virtually anywhere for under $50 in materials using inexpensive, open-source 3D printing hardware.
What's the instrument like? Can it match conventional wood instruments in terms of tonal quality?
In a word, yes. In more words, we're making violins (and violas) that you or your kids will want to play all the time. Violins that you'll want to listen to them play! And also violins that serious players will find to be a great value with a top-notch setup and the flexible timbre of a much more expensive instrument. Here are some unedited examples - a quality pair of headphones or speakers is recommended:
Inspired by the great 17th century violins and violas of northern Italy and the Tyrol, VLN and VLA have a medium to dark sound that is as easily modulated with bow pressure as with bow speed, yet won't lose focus under load. Response under the bow is prompt and agile, with projection that can cut through and be heard without difficulty. It's a playing experience unlike nothing a new instrument under $5000 can offer - and one which, with your help, we eventually hope to make available all over the world at a low cost through 3D printing. Here's why it works:
Finding trees suitable for tonewood use isn't easy: once you find one, processing generally eliminates 70-90% of it. Then the wood has to be dried for quite some time in order to be
stable enough for use. This generally takes at least 1-5 years,
and much longer for a concert quality violin. That wood rarely - if ever - finds its way into factory-made instruments.
Violin wood is cut in wedges, as shown above: the wide ends of each wedge are then planed flat and joined together so they can be carved into tops and backs. But to reach an arch height that gives you a
good-sounding violin, you decrease the possible number of violins per tree. If you're a factory manager, you're not going to do this. It's expensive!
Beyond that, building a high-arched violin with the cheaper, younger wood used in factories is a disaster because it will warp
quickly. But most importantly, wood is inconsistent:
violin makers have to adapt the arch & thicknesses to it individually, and this is a skill that takes decades of experience working with good musicians to perfect: it doesn't happen in a factory setting.
At VLNLAB, we've developed a top quality design with materials that are environmentally friendly and that can be consistently used every time to produce a high-quality instrument. There are no worries about bad materials, bad craftsmanship, or manufacturing inconsistencies. And we've worked with professional players to give it a playing setup that even a professional orchestral player or soloist would think highly of.
Do I need to worry about humidity, temperature, or extreme weather with VLN and VLA?
Unless you find yourself in the midst of a nuclear war or happen to accidentally wander into an active volcano, you should generally be fine. That's the point, actually: this is your gig-proof, kid-proof, outdoors-proof, go-anywhere instrument, and it won't break the bank either.
What about alternative musical styles? Do you offer it with a pickup?
Absolutely - we have variants on offer that come with pickups installed.