About 2 years ago, inventor Paul Vo pulled back the curtains on a prototype string sustainer called the Wand that used similar tech to his Vo-96 Acoustic Synthesizer. The device was later renamed the Wond for its Kickstarter launch and subsequently shipped to almost 500 musicians around the world. Vo has now announced that he's ready to work on its successor, the Wond II.

Vo says that he's spent the last year working on ways to make the hand-held string sustainer/exciter much better, and will spend the next 12 months or so bringing those improvements to life. He described the first Wond as being "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."

Unlike a guitar pick though, the Wond doesn't touch the strings. It's pinched between the index finger and thumb and is hovered above a string to excite it, with additional power added with a pinch. The device offers some string vibration feedback so that guitarists don't have to look down all the time, and positioning the unit at different points along the string results in different harmonics being produced.

It's still early days for the battery-powered Wond II, but Vo intends to improve on the tactile feedback offered by the first device by tapping into digital control of the reworked feedback algorithm.

He also aims to add a microphone that picks up sounds and records them in the device's memory. For example, the player could record his/her voice and the Wond II would then drive a string's harmonics to follow the recorded sample. Moving it closer to an electric 6-string's pickups would result in the resynthesized sample not sounding in unison with the guitar's tone.

Recordings can be saved and accessed on the fly by scrolling through items displayed on an integrated screen, and wireless and USB data feeds are also being considered for dialing in samples.

Vo reckons that taking the concept to prototype and beyond will take about a year, but is calling on folks interested in the project to invest in its creation now. The carrot being dangled in front of supporters is a unit price of US$170, instead of $199 when it goes into production. Progress updates and technology insights will be revealed along the way, and a select number of beta testers will be chosen to trial in initial prototype in a few months.

After revisions and tweaks have been made based on feedback, Vo intends to select manufacturing partners and ship the Wond II EMpicks to project backers. It's not clear at this stage whether the project will also be launched on a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter in addition to being open to supporters on the Vo Inventions website, or what production guarantees are being offered for early investors.

But given Vo's history of delivering on his device production promises, we'd be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt on the Wond II project.

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