Exploring the future of the violin
July 24, 2006 One glance at a Ted Brewer violin leaves one in no doubt whether he is a maker of traditional musical instruments. He freely acknowledges that with a world of changing possibilities, it is his duty to explore applying new materials, technology, design and his passion for crafting beautiful instruments to explore the future of the violin. Currently Brewer produces three models at his Rotherham, U.K. workshop – the customised individually produced Crossbow (as used by Vanessa Mae (video here)) and Hades and the new Vivo2. Ted handcrafted just 25 instruments a year until massive market demand forced a need to look to greater throughput and he began to explore new production methods for his new vivo2 line, which is now sold by selected stockists. Instead of hand-carving his instruments from acrylic block, he took full advantage of the capabilities of GE Plastics' Lexan Visualfx special effects resin to add some stunning visual impact at the same time as moving to injection molding. The use of mainly transparent (mixed with blue and violet) special effects resin also allowed Brewer Violins to incorporate a special illumination feature: the Vivo2 violin has a built-in sound-to-light capability using two vertical banks of super-bright white LEDs. Light pulses along the length of the instrument to complement the music. The Crossbow can be heard here, the Hades can be heard here, and the Vivo2 can be heard here and here.
In addition to color effects, the GE resin provides the high performance and design flexibility for which it is renowned. Injection-molding the violin body instead of carving it allowed Ted Brewer Violins to create unique designs that not only are visually compelling but also deliver exceptional audio quality.
According to Ted, GE Plastics provided both the material and expertise that Brewer was looking for to help perfect his Vivo2 design. "I tried some other suppliers, but nothing came close to GE's Lexan Visualfx special effects resin. The outstanding quality, finish, and visual effects of our Vivo2 violins are just superb. The GE team provided amazing support - they pulled out all the stops to find the exact color effects I had in mind, and shipped the material as fast as humanly possible so we could get into production quickly." GE delivered pellet samples to the company in a 96-hour turnaround.
The Vivo2 violin is manufactured with Lexan resin in three colors: blue, violet, and clear, and uses the Visualfx diamond effect. The color-matching service was provided by GE's Customer Innovation Center (CIC) in Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands. The CIC, one of three global centers operated by the company, provides color and special effects expertise and services to customers across the entire product line. GE's Visualfx portfolio of special effects resins can be customized with a host of special effects and color variations. In the case of the Vivo2, GE specialists customized the Lexan Visualfx special effects resin to downplay the diamond effect and provide just a suggestion of sparkle. Other GE experts worked with the molder to optimize processing for an improved surface finish.
The Vivo2 violin was recently reviewed by professional musician and freelance journalist David Etheridge in Music Mart, a music equipment magazine based in the U.K. Commenting that until now, few electric violins have taken a completely revolutionary approach, Etheridge praised the Vivo2 instrument's exceptionally strong construction featuring a monocoque frame made from advanced polymers that delivers "unbeatable lightness in use." He added, "We've come a long way in a very short space of time with the high-tech approach to the violin. With Ted Brewer's instruments, you've got eye-catching good looks, a superb sound from a responsive instrument, easy controls and features, and your own personal light show! What more could a 21st century violinist require?"