And now for something completely different – the Minicorda, a nylon-string travel guitar (opens in new tab) that measures just 19” inches long and can fit in your suitcase, and is ready for the stage with onboard Fishman electronics.
The Minicorda was designed by two guitar-playing friends, Augusto Filocamo and Diego Spina, who wanted to design a one-piece guitar that was playable as soon as you took it out, and yet small enough to fit inside the back of a backpack or suitcase.
Filocamo and Spina live some 600 miles apart, and so their collaboration took shape remotely over video link, and sending 3D printed prototypes to each other through the post.
As acoustic electric guitars (opens in new tab) go, the Minicorda is quite radical. It has no body. To generate a sound comparable to a regular-sized nylon-string classical guitar (opens in new tab), the Minicorda has a hollow-neck design. Filocamo says they simply used the principles of acoustic guitar (opens in new tab) resonance and applied them in a fresh context.
“We learned guitar moves air that is in touch with resonance surfaces,” explains Filocamo. “We simply increased the size of the air-exposed surfaces. The neck of a 19” guitar is the guitar itself. So making it hollow was the answer.”
Making a 19” neck that was both resonant and durable was less obvious, but using computer-assisted-design and 3D printing with synthetic materials, Filocamo and Spino were able to quickly produce prototypes and test their design.
“We were able to try many ideas before building it,” says Filocamo. “On a regular luthier building process, every prototype will take a month. We did that in hours.”
The project was not without its challenges. Firstly, they had to find a material that was strong enough but with enough flex to be able to handle the tension put upon it by strings brought up to pitch.
Secondly, the strings had to work with the body design, and so the Minicorda ships with regular nylon guitar strings (opens in new tab) only shifted one position down, so a regular 1st string is used as the Minicorda’s second, and so on.
Filocamo and Spino 3D printed some 25 prototypes to test how minor differences affected the guitar, with the finished Minicorda is version five, and you can order one now for $270. See Minicorda (opens in new tab) for more details.