21 comments on “Magnetic Cello V.4.1

  1. Pingback: Why wasn’t this magnetic cello made in the 70′s? - Hack a Day

  2. Pingback: Electronic magnetic cello is like a theremin on crack « BuildLounge

  3. This thing is beautiful. Excellent work!

    I hope you can bring it to market. Looks like a lot of fun to play.

    • Thanks!

      I have begun thinking about how I could start selling this thing. Obviously, it is a niche market, but I would be great to have a couple dozen of these out being played by musicians.

      And yes, it is a lot of fun to play.

  4. Love it. Good luck and I bet we can expect to see more ideas from you in the future.


  5. Is there any plan to make a violin version of this? Also, I understand you are using a magnetic “bow” so in this iteration it’s impossible;but, would you be thinking of ideas on how it might be played by picking …kinda like a base in a jazz band?

    Good stuff, keep up the good work.

    • The reason my first prototypes are cellos, as opposed to violins or violas, is because the cello is larger and gives me more space to experiment. And because I play the cello. But there is no good reason that this same technology couldn’t be shrunk a bit into the shape of a violin.

      As to “plucking” the note…. now you have me thinking. It would take a different kind of bow, but I think that it maybe can be done. Hymm…. what if I create some mechanism that, when plucked, creates a small, sudden magnetic field to be picked up by the coil? I’ll see about looking into this, but I have a lot to do before that.

    • Not yet. Right now, there is only one oscillator. But I think the convenience of not having to switch between strings with the bow makes up for this, at least for now.

  6. How adaptable would be this be to out put midi instead of analog signaling. An electric instrument capable of bowing and plucking outputting to a midi controller would be awesome especially in say a stand up string base form. Current midi capture devices have issues with lower frequencies so this would definitively fill a gap.

    • Unfortunately, I bias towards the analog. I will will put out a MIDI model eventually, but even then it will probably be added at the end of an analog circuit. I want to keep the machine simple, and that means using only one chip and a good number of capacitors.

      I’ll think about it though.

  7. One final thing the plucking could be activated with a simple guitar hero strum bar and allow you to keep the magnetic bow concept mostly unmodified. I would keep a separate strip of foil on the backside of the neck towards one side to mute the magnetic bow so when you reached into pluck the bow still in your hand wouldn’t play the bow effect when plucking. multiple strips on the back of the neck could also trigger other effects.

    • I’ve done a lot of work trying to put sensors on the back of the neck, but, as I found out the hard way, the left thumb really is the root of any note pressed on the strings. Right now, my goal is to make it simple and to make it good. Now that the basic mechanics are down, I can work on improving the electronics and tone.

      As to plucking, I’ve found that a lot of the magic is in not actually touching the instrument. The coil picks up the magnetic fields from electric fans and televisions, so creating some sort of plucker in the bow shouldn’t be a problem.

      I’ll be thinking about add more options, though, once I get the board down to a science.

  8. Two thoughts:

    1) From what I understand, a provisional patent starts the clock ticking on when a full application can be filed, and thus can be a double-edged sword. Take care to understand the ramifications on this, I would hate for you to lose out on your own idea!

    2) You might be able to trigger “plucking” by using orthogonal fields, with the plucking magnet and sensing coils at right angle to the main coil. The velocity of the magnet will increase the induced voltage, so there’s even a chance you could trigger or gate on that using the main coil alone.

    • The clock already started in august 2009 when I performed my magnetic cello at a talent show and told the judges how it worked. I had one year to file a provisional patent by the prior art laws (which have recently changed). It is a pretty niche market that I am going after, and the publicity is so big already that I am not worried about loosing out on credit for the work I have done. I can always patent my next big invention, whenever I actually start working on it. Now That I have to keep quiet about.

      I don’t think that I can put in another coil orthogonally (dependent of first coil), at least not without making more noise or a more complicated system. I think something as simple as a somewhat movable tab of ferromagnetic metal attached to the end of the bow by the magnetic field itself would suffice. As the metal is plucked and moves back to rest, it would create a magnetic field to be picked up by the coil. The bow itself would be held still. I do not know if this would work, and right now my priorities are studying in school and improving the guts of the instrument.

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