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3-D Printed Electric Violin Takes Cues From Stradivarius

A good violin is hard to find — and once you've found one, it's usually expensive. But what if a violin could be custom-made for you in a couple days by a 3-D printer? That's the idea behind the 3Dvarius, an electric violin that's printed instead of assembled — though you'll still need to provide strings and a pickup for the sound.

The 3Dvarius is designed and named after the Stradivarius family of violins and violin makers, but it's not going to rival a Stradivarius in a concert hall. Unlike a traditional violin, the sound doesn't resonate inside the body of the instrument. Instead, like an electric guitar, electric violins use magnetic pickups to detect the vibrations of the strings and pass them on to an amplifier.

Related: How does 3-D printing work?

Ultimately, the resemblance is largely superficial: the 3Dvarius could look like a Stratocaster or just a big bar of plastic with a chin rest and it would sound the same. But the nod to traditional design is still a meaningful one — tradition is a strong influence in classical instruments, even when creating them from scratch.

Designer and violinist Laurent Bernadac led the project, sketching out the blueprint and overseeing the 3-D printing process. It's all one piece, with only the essentials printed to ensure comfortable operation. And of course the model can be tweaked to fit any performer's preferences.

Want to know how it sounds? Listen to Bernadac play his creation here.