3D-printed MyCello combines the best of acoustic and electric design
We've seen 3D printing used to create a good many musical instruments over the years, including guitars, saxophones, violins and more. The latest to join the orchestra comes from education software company Sensio in the striking form of the MyCello.
"Playing the cello is my passion," said MyCello design team member, Ondrej Kratochvil. "I have always wanted to be able to play at home for long hours without disturbing the neighbors or my family. I wanted an instrument that would allow me to do that, and at the same time be lightweight, easily portable, and with a good sound. I discovered that there was no such instrument available on the market, so I decided to design one."
Currently raising production funds on Kickstarter, the MyCello has not been created as a replacement for traditional wooden cellos, but is developed to combine the best aspects of a classic instrument with modern electric models.
Its skeletal body has been designed to allow the player freedom of movement while bowing, and the makers say that those who have mastered a classical cello will feel right at home using the My Cello as it boasts the same neck shape, string setup and construction attributes. There's a chest rest about half way up the neck, the long endpin slides and locks from behind to achieve a comfortable playing height – and is adjustable even while sitting – and the tuners are down below, between the knee rests.
It can be played unplugged, like a lower-volume version of a traditional wooden instrument, or a bridge pickup can output to an amp/speaker system, with built-in EQ control on the instrument itself. Headphones can even be plugged straight into the MyCello.
The 3D-printing and assembly processes are reckoned to take about 100 hours for each instrument, though running printers in parallel should allow the team to produce several MyCellos at the same time. A modular design approach allows for instrument flexibility – size, color, number of strings, overall size and other personal preferences can be accommodated – while offering players the opportunity to modify, repair or improve on the standard MyCello.
For added convenience, there's an integrated blow holder, and the instrument can even be had with a smartphone mount for displaying digital sheet music while playing. And where a wooden cello can be a bit cumbersome to transport, the 2.2-kg (5-lb) MyCello can be folded down and carried around in a companion backpack, or it can be broken down into components for reassembly at rehearsal or performance.
A lightweight design, custom options and the ability to play in quiet, normal or amplified modes are certainly attractive selling points, but cellists will need to hear what it sounds like, which is where the pitch video below comes in. Kickstarter pledges start at US$899, though if you want a bow and backpack included then you'll need to stump up at least $1,184. If all goes to plan, shipping is estimated to start in November.