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Zoybar's R&D Music Lab: While My Guitar Gently Prints

We all now know that you can 3D print your own gun, but did you know that you can 3D print your own axe?

Back in January Creator's Project wrote about Zoybar, a kit-based online lab that lets users create and share their own instruments and musical applications. The instrument we highlighted was Bård S D’s Zoybar TOR guitar, a minimalist, sleek, fretless instrument that looked like something out of Blade Runner. Using the neck from the Six Strings Kit, which costs around $670.00, Bård designed and 3D printed additional component parts for $175.00—a bargain, for all intents and purposes. He later sent us a video of him playing his customised creation so we could all hear what it sounded like, which is to say, not too shabby for a 3D printed instrument.

Whatever detractors may say about the virtues (or lack thereof) of 3D printed instruments, the prospect was apparently alluring enough to capture the attention and imagination of legendary bassist Harvey Brooks, now a member of the Zoybar community. Brooks has apparently taken quite a shining to the new technology and the tools it affords, as the video below shows him playing some solid bass on a fretless Zoybar bass guitar, all the while reminiscing about improvising with some of the biggest musical names from the last century like Bob Dylan and Miles Davis, and reverse engineering a Zoybar Bass Kit.

We asked Karen Roso from Zoybar about how this particular model was made. “The double bass extension was custom made from laser cut wood that was initially designed in a digital format. In general, all of the Zoybar instruments are based on the same basic kit parts. We mainly provide fully produced modular hardware kits for those who are more interested in experimenting with electric guitars physically and less with their ‘carpentry’.”

In fact, the whole premise of Zoybar and their thriving community of users is this process of adaptation, customization and innovation of the standardized kits to meet their own specifications and likes. “Our users can easily modify or print our mass production hardware kits for non-commercial use and share and sell new hardware customizations to a large community of users. Moreover, as with, for example, the Apple “app store,” Zoybar users can upgrade their instruments just by downloading and printing additional components (”hardware Apps") all without the need to buy a complete new instrument every time."

The goal of Zoybar is to facilitate the development of creative homegrown designing in the field of musical instruments, providing both the hardware and the production files for DIY experimentation. “Zoybar is not a specific instrument. Instead, we provide physical and virtual platforms as ‘short cuts’—creation tools for developing new musical instruments,” says Roso. “Because Zoybar was designed as an open hardware platform, hacking and reverse engineering can be practiced easily in a collaborative creative process.”

So it becomes a social network for instrument innovation where like-minded people can share ideas in an open platform, adapting and changing the designs to suit their needs—opening the field for hybrid instruments where the only thing stopping you is the thickness of your walls, the tolerance of your loved ones, and your imagination.