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Research and Development in Luthierie?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by thrash_jazz, May 16, 2002.


  1. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Hi everybody,

    I was curious as to whether any of our guest luthiers did any research and development on their own. If not, where do such advances tend to come from?

    I know that certain companies, such as Chrysalis, BassLab, Curbow, etc. have used a lot of innovative new ideas in their instruments. Were these discovered mostly by accident, or did they have R&D teams working on such things?

    If so, does anyone know what the qualifications of a luthierie R&Der are? :confused:

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    bump

    A similar question: Would someone with a good background in acoustics, engineering, or a similar science, be able to work for a more established luthier, or is hands-on experience pretty much a must-have in order to land any kind of job with a luthier company?
     
  3. Heiko

    Heiko BassLab

    Apr 24, 2001
    Kassel, Germany
    Hi, trash_jazz!

    I don´t think there is much R&D in this business!?!

    My regular job is physicist and I was working in an R&D lab before I started BassLab. I already did expertises in physical acoustics for recording studios, local administrations, etc. (and still do). I did approx. 5 years of research about the materials and construction of the instruments, before I started the company. That´s why I think, that we have something very special (I don´t mean better!)

    IMO, a scientific, acoustic experience will help a lot, but you can´t do it without "hands-on-experience".

    Most of the smaller luthiers don´t have any R&D-teams (maybe no one of them!).
    If you like to work in R&D, you will have to go to one of the big companies or start a business on your own.

    BTW: If the big ones have R&D-teams, what did they do in the last years? Any innovation I know of, comes from small companies.
    In most cases the reason to launch a business is an idea.
    (This already is something like R&D.)


    Heiko
     
  4. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Thanks Heiko!

    That pretty much answers my question. I don't know much about innovation in the bigger companies, but I am somewhat aware of larger steps being taken by smaller companies (such as Basslab).

    The reason why I am asking is that I have a background in physical acoustics myself, and I was wondering if luthierie R&D was a career option. I guess it will have to be on the side!

    But now I am curious about something else: How much time, effort and money do luthiers put into innovation? If you find a several products that "work", do you stick with those, or continue to invest in new ideas?
     
  5. Heiko

    Heiko BassLab

    Apr 24, 2001
    Kassel, Germany
    Sorry you had to wait that long for an answer!
    I was away for a couple of days........

    Back to the thread:
    Difficult to say!
    I invested a lot of time and money until I was able and willing to sell the first bass.
    Every instrument I now make is a part of my R&D, because I play (and compare) all of them. I try to make small changes everytime we make a new instrument, so it´s more of a steady development.
    I can´t tell you anything about percentages...........

    Your background in physical acoustic will help a lot!

    Greetings,

    Heiko
     
  6. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Heiko: What level was your degree? (bachelor's, master's, etc.) I am considering going back to school and doing a master's degree, hopefully specializing in physical acoustics and nondestructive testing.

    In your company, does everyone have a working knowledge of all aspects of luthierie (materials, acoustics, woodworking, electronics etc) or are the duties split according to specialty?

    I know the best way to learn the trade is to become an apprentice, but if that is not an option, what would you consider to be the next best alternative?
     
  7. Heiko

    Heiko BassLab

    Apr 24, 2001
    Kassel, Germany
    I have a master of science. Our educational system is a bit different.......
    I started my doctor thesis, did all the experiments, calculations, theoretical work, etc., but the problem is, that I can´t find the time to finish it. I started to write everything down. That´s all that is missing. I´m already starting to forget the name of it!

    The others here are more from the craftsman side. (It´s not good to have too many ideas, someone needs to do the work.)
    They all have their specialities, but I fear, that I´m the only one, who can do it completely.

    I don´t know, what you should do next!
    As I told you: There are not many scientific jobs in this business.
     
  8. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Thanks again Heiko! :cool:
     
  9. Jeff Moote

    Jeff Moote Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2001
    Beamsville, ON, Canada
    Hey there thrash. Where did you go to school and what did you take? I am in ON as well, and am looking to go into physics in 2 years (after high school). You say you are going to look at geting your masters specialising in physical acoustics, do you know what schools offer that? I'm also interested in that, but as of right now, I'm looking to go to Queens if I can. Ultimately I'd like a masters in physics at Queens, so I hope I can do that, or something like that.
     
  10. thrash_jazz

    thrash_jazz

    Jan 11, 2002
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Artist: JAF Basses, Circle K Strings
    Hey Monty. I went to the University of Windsor - not very well known and not a very big school, but an excellent physics department with some world famous people. Windsor is currently changing the department around a lot - they now have a four-year co-op Physics/High Tech. program, and I hear they're working up a graduate Engineering Physics program.

    Physical acoustics is one of the research topics you can focus on, but I think it has more to do with materials testing than anything.

    As I recall, Queens has some pretty neat stuff going on in the research department, but I'm not sure about acoustics-related stuff.

    I'm curious - why are you choosing physics? I always ask that because I never really had an answer for it myself! :p