Classical instruments have a long history when it comes to how they should be made, how they should sound, and how they should be played. But new technologies could usher in a new group of instruments—ones that have unique sounds and memorable aesthetic styles.
In 2012, Laurent Bernadac started bringing to life the 3Dvarius, a fully 3D-printed violin, after feeling frustrated by the limiting nature of the sounds he could make on his own electric violin. He wanted something different from the instrument.
“I wanted to create an electric violin which could fulfill all the needs of a classical musician,” Bernadac tells The Creators Project, “I began this project for my personal use, I wasn't really satisfy [sic] by my electric violins: different sound, too heavy, etc.”
At first, he considered using aluminum as the driving material for the model but soon found that it was “a hard material to transform.” The next possibility was transparent polycarbonate, which he considered after seeing a prototype “entirely hand-crafted by a stringed instrument maker.” But that material proved too heavy and “thus hardly playable.”
Bernadac kept searching for the right material that would give him a great sound while being light and easy to play. He eventually settled on 3D printing as the preferred method for creating this unique model; the violin can be printed as a single piece.
Although Bernadac chose relatively new technology (at least in terms of the legacy of violin-making) to create the violin, he found inspiration in a classical violin form. Known internationally for its history—and rarity—the Stradivarius is the dream instrument of many a player. Bernadac loosely based the design of 3Dvarius on the famous model, bringing together the classical and the technological. Even so, it’s very much a customized model that was created with a specific vision in mind.
“The 3Dvarius is based on a Stradivarius model, but it's not a Stradivarius and my objective wasn't to create a 'new Stradivarius,’” writes Bernadac. “It was to create an electric violin in perfect symbiosis with the musician. I decided to keep only the most important parts of a violin: bridge, tuning pegs, fingerboard, chin rest, etc. And I continued working on developing and improving the violin: better design, weight reduction, smoother sound-wave flow, and refined curves.”
Bernadac definitely sees the potential of 3D printing went it comes to creating a range of instruments. His 3Dvarius is just one possibility.
“The new technologies, like the 3D printing one, can facilitate the creation and production of new electric instruments, by example electric violins or electric guitars,” writes Bernadac. “In the future, new 3D printing technics and materials could allow the creation of acoustic instrument with an excellent quality.”