Posted by yellowdog on Tuesday, August 9, 2011
As often happens, we tried to solve a problem with one of our products and the solution that we come up with improved all the others! In this case, the problem that we were trying to solve was to improve the high tones on a fiddle by improving the high frequency response of our "FiddleFish" product. In addition to making many changes to the body of FiddleFish we had the idea that if we had a sound surface wave waveguide we could take the input sound surface waves from where high frequencies were very strong - from over the soundpost, for example, or from the tailpiece behind the E string. What we needed to do this was a sound surface wave waveguide to carry the waves from those locations to FiddleFish in the sound chamber. Unfortunately, there was no such thing so we had to invent one. We did and went several steps further by coming up with one that also amplifies the high frequencies, is flexible and can be bent to almost any shape needed and retain that shape.
The waveguide is about 5-inches long and looks like a plastic coated wire but is actually a tightly wound spiral wrap of sound surface wave conducting clear plastic tape over a unique construction of two very fine steel wires. It worked great on our fiddle so we applied for a provisional patent. It also worked great on our tenor guitar, giving it a wonderful tone and tremendous volume when one end of the waveguide was attached by a short strip of tape to the guitar's bridge and the other end to our "ToneFish"™ audible sound emitter located in the guitar's sound chamber. We thought that the new waveguide should work equally well on mandolins and even on resonator banjos if the emitter could be dropped into the sound chamber through one of the resonator holes. We didn't think at the time that it was applicable to open back banjos.
Then today, we had the idea that the wonderful amplification provided by the amplifying waveguide was just too good to pass up on open back banjos - even though the length of the waveguide wasn't needed or even wanted. This is because in an open back banjo "ToneFish" is simply hung on a short strip of tape from the inside top of the wood rim and tone pieces are stuck to the tape. The solution was simple: We wrapped the waveguide around an index finger and formed it into a helix (coil spring) to reduce the length, then taped one end of the helix to the inside top of the wood rim and the other end to ToneFish. The improvement in volume was amazing! We stuck a tone piece to the tape - a brass rectangle with a small hole at one end (for tone, sustain and even more amplification) and the sound quality and volume was about as good as a banjo can get! - Any banjo!
The banjo we used is a 17-fret "Goldtone CC Irish Tenor" that I play in weekly Irish sessions, and I can hardly wait to play it in our Irish session in a pub tomorrow night. It is going to be tough putting the banjo down so I can play my fiddle with it's amplifying wave guide. I don't think I'm going to get to play the fiddle very much because the banjo sounds so good.
So it looks like we will be offering two products soon: FiddleFish for fiddles with its new amplifying sound surface wave waveguide; and "ToneFish" for guitars, mandolins and banjos with its amplifying waveguide. Both products will come with a selection of four amplifying tone pieces to change timbre and ten short strips of tape as a starter supply to replace the input tape which will eventually lose its adhesion. The tape is 1/2-inch wide Scotch® brand "High Gloss Transparent Tape" which is inexpensive and widely available in handy dispenser rolls with a serrated cutter. We can provide the rolls if they are not available locally but including the rolls with the product is not a good idea since this tape is already in many homes and including it adds to shipping and product cost. The ten short strips should last a good while so you won't have to buy a roll right away. The introductory price for both FiddleFish and ToneFish will be $20 including postage to U.S. destinations.
We'll post pictures and recordings soon, both here and on our website.
If you're in the Atlanta area and want to hear it, our Irish session meets Wednesday nights upstairs in the "Roswell Tap", 1090 Alpharetta Street, Roswell, Georgia. We start playing around 7:30 PM. If you stop by be sure to come up and say hello so I can show you the new waveguide.
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