3D Printing and Music

Both of my parents are musicians, so it was natural for me to take an interest in music at such an early age. I started playing the violin in 4th grade. I continued playing in the school orchestra through elementary school and middle school. In 6th grade, my mom made me join the local church choir. Little did I know that my music “career” would take off because of the church choir. I ended up learning the guitar and bass guitar in that first year of joining the choir. The choir director, my brother and I decided we would start a Mexican trio. Click here if you want to know what kind of music Mexican trio’s play. After a couple of months, we started getting extremely busy on the weekend; we would go from weddings, to birthday parties, to even playing at Mexican restaurants. What most people don’t know is that the majority of musicians have to carry their own sound equipment. If you’re a big musician, usually the venue will provide the audio set up. This is where I believe 3D printing can excel for musicians.

I decided to do my research on 3D printing and music because it is incorporating both of my passions: music and technology. In terms of repairing a musical instrument, there is not a lot of content at the moment. There are a few but most of the items are what we can all consider accessories. Back to my point about musicians carrying their own audio equipment, one must be extremely organized when dealing with audio equipment. Audio equipment consists of dozens of cables, adapters, microphones, stands, etc. I came across a very useful article that has the top 23 3D printed items for musicians. Here are my top seven;

1. Simple Cable Clippers

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2. XLR caps
3. Cable drum
4. Mic stand cup holder

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5. Guitar strap button

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6. Volume knobs

Without getting into too much detail, simple organizational items like the ones I mentioned before can make keeping track of audio equipment a lot easier. Ideally, musicians would be printing these items as they need them. The way I see this being helpful is if a musician faces a problem but quickly solves it by creating something in a CAD software and print it right away. When doing my research, I came across a lot of 3D printed musical instruments, mainly guitars. However, I don’t think this is technology being used correctly. A lot of these guitars that I came across cost over $4,000. For that price, you can get a very nice, hand-crafted guitar. I think 3D printed instruments should be cheap to make and be used as the back-up of the back-up. I was very skeptical of the sound quality of 3D printed guitars. However, I was extremely surprised with the sound quality they produce. Click here to listen to a sample of a 3D printed guitar. As of now, 3D printers and repairing musical instruments is not that popular. It’s not that popular because there is a limited number of parts one can 3D print to repair an instrument. People right now are 3D printing mouth pieces, volume knobs, guitar strap buttons, and bridges for violins. I would argue that musicians around the world would love to see more tutorials online on how to go about repairing an instrument with 3D printed parts. This would save time and money. I personally believe that the whole point of a 3D printer is to have the ability to make something somewhat quick and cheap. Making a $4,000 3D printed guitar is not what I envisioned 3D printing and music. I do believe that as the technology advances, making more sophisticated prints will become a reality.

One thought on “3D Printing and Music

  1. Hi Jorge,
    I really enjoyed reading your post. I also play guitar (both acoustic and classical), and I feel the same way as you wrote in the post. I can totally see that printing the components you listed above with a 3D printer will be really convenient for guitar players. Another thing I would add to that list is the pick rings. The existing pick rings are not designed to fit everyone and they are not that comfortable. 3D print the pick ring using the scanned model might be cool (but costly). I also strongly agree with your opinion on the 3D printed music instruments and I look forward to the new features granted by 3D printing.

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