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Meet 3DVARIUS: The World’s first 3D-Printed Violin

Who knew you could 3D-print a violin – and have it sound good?! Meet 3DVARIUS, the world’s first 3D-printed violin. You can even hear it played alongside a real Stradivarius!

Violinist Pauline Henric demos 3DVARIUS, the world's first 3D-printed violin at CES 2017

The World’s First 3D-Printed Violin

I confess that a 3D-printed violin was not on my list of things to look for at CES. But, as someone who plays the violin (not very well, but I have since I was four years old), I knew I had to check it out when I passed the 3DVARIUS booth. The name on its own is clever, as is the clear design of the instrument.

I heard violinist Pauline Henric playing as I approached the booth. She let me try the violin out myself, pushing the different pedals (see her foot above?) to show me the different sounds the instrument can make. The inventor of this violin, engineer-violinist Laurent Bernadac, explained the instruments single-piece design. He explained that this 3D-printed violin was designed for maximum comfort and sound control.

Laurent Bernadac, French engineer and violinist, discusses his 3D-printed 3DVARIUS violin

What Is It Like to Play a 3D-Printed Violin?

had no idea what to expect from an electric violin, and I found the 3DVARIUS shockingly easy to play! I started Suzuki violin when I was 4 years old. Playing violin was something everyone in my family did. We moved when I was 6, and after that I rarely took violin lessons. I kept playing, though, at least once a year. We weren’t allowed to open Christmas presents until we played Christmas music on our violins for my mom.

Who knew you could 3D-print a violin - and have it sound good?! The 3DVARIUS is based on a real Stradivarius violin, and designed to create an instrument that is comfortable and responsive to play.

Comfort was a huge piece of my not falling in love with violin playing as a child. I struggled to find a way to hold my violin that felt remotely comfortable. The 3DVARIUS is infinitely more comfortable to hold than the many violins I have played over the course of my life.

How Does a 3D-Printed Violin Sound?

Several people commented on this violin when I posted it as part of a CES 2017 slideshow on Instagram, specifically asking what it sounds like. I tracked down a video of it being played alongside a Stradivarius violin. Note that the performers are the same people manning the booth at CES.

Having played the 3DVARIUS at CES, I feel like the difference in tone between these two instruments would be much more noticeable in real life than it is in this digital recording. That being said, I was amazed at how fun this instrument was to play. Now I am curious to compare it to more traditional electric violins.

Wondering how this violin is made? Here you go:

3DVARIUS Pricing

Priced at over $6,000, this violin is the most expensive violin I have personally played. It is a pretty big investment! That being said, Stradivarius violins sell for as much as 3.6 MILLION dollars. You can have your 3DVARIUS made to measure, you can give it a special name, and you can engrave a personal message on the surface. All of these personalized elements cost extra, of course. The made to measure element could be worth a lot to a violinist like my tiny cousin, who is really too small for a standard full-sized violin but wants a full-sized sound.

Meet 3DVARIUS, the world's first 3D-printed violin. Based off of a real Stradivarius violin.

After playing this violin, I am curious to know what is possible at a lower price point for electric violins. All over the country, children play mediocre wooden violins in schools. I wonder if electric violins could be provided as a more durable, better sounding, and easier to play option? Can 3D-printed violins be created in school Maker studios?

I own a digital Roland piano with weighted keys because it sounds better than the “real” piano we can currently afford. Someday I hope to upgrade to a high quality traditional piano. In the meantime, my kids and I are grateful for the Roland. I wonder if this could be the future for violins as well?

Would you play a 3D-printed violin over a traditional wooden violin?

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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

3 thoughts on “Meet 3DVARIUS: The World’s first 3D-Printed Violin”

  1. Comfortable violin hold is very important – I think your vision of schools printing them for their students is exciting. It might not be long before the price point becomes affordable. Just like having a keyboard vs an acoustic piano; what a great analogy. Do you recall if the bow was wooden or fibreglass? Just curious. There is something so special about handmade wooden instruments, and they will always have their place with the acoustic sound, but nothing would be lost by replacing the cheap wooden violins with comfortable plastic ones, in my view, as long as serious musicians are able to transition at some point without too much difficulty.

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