Vo-96 Acoustic Synth Improvisation, By ExperimentalSynth’s Chris Stack

Here’s another sneak preview of the Vo-96 Acoustic Synthesizer – a new prototype synth, designed by Moog Guitar creator Paul Vo.

While a traditional synth lets you work with sound by generating and shaping electrical or digital representations of sound waves, Vo’s new design lets you control and shape the vibrations of physical objects. Vo’s initial prototypes attach to an acoustic guitar.

This Vo-96 Improvisation comes via Chris Stack. Stack is the synth guru behind ExperimentalSynth.com.

Stack explains:

I was trying to explore the territory just outside the standard guitar space. I kept the harmonic content and motion fairly close to the standard guitar tone and went for an open, legato feel. I think I am a frustrated cellist at heart and the ability to play those longer notes really appeals to me.

I asked Stack for his first impressions of the Vo-96 Acoustic Synthesizer. 

“As a player, I love it,” says Stack. “Being able to take an acoustic that is sitting there vibrating in your lap as you play it, and coax these new sounds out of it is a great experience. It is really like we’ve always said about the Moog Guitar, but even more so… guitar synths are cool, but when you really feel the string making the sound you are hearing, it is a much closer, much more connected playing experience.”

“My interests run in a couple different directions, synthy high tech, world acoustic-y stuff (ouds and bamboo flutes) and this technology really bridges it all,” adds Stack. “Acoustic Synthesis is pretty close to Star Trek music tech and having that on an instrument that you can sit on your porch and play Free Bird on is really a nice bit of cognitive dissonance.”

Technical details:

A short, non-solo improvisation on a guitar fitted with the Vo-96 Acoustic Synth. Played over a piano arpeggio from a Yamaha MO8, the guitar was recorded via its built-in piezo pickup. Delay is from a Line 6 Echo Pro.

Learn more about the Vo-96 at www.voinventions.com.

10 thoughts on “Vo-96 Acoustic Synth Improvisation, By ExperimentalSynth’s Chris Stack

    1. An ebow occupies the right hand- ergo, no picking/fingerpicking.
      And don’t forget that it only can effect one string at a time.

  1. This is very nice and i can see that Chris is able to pick out specific notes and sustain them in unnatural, but interesting, ways.

    I’d like to see a demo, though, that’s much more ‘out there’ and ‘synthy’. I think that’s reflected in people’s comments on this post and earlier posts when they say they don’t understand why you couldn’t do this with an eBow. We want to see it do some crazy ass synth stuff.

    Can it be used to make sounds that aren’t very guitar-like at all? Can it emphasize specific harmonics to make organ-like sounds, can it create synthy pad sounds or can it simulate a phaser acoustically? It seems like the technology should be able to do these types of things, but the demos I’ve seen have mostly shown long sustains and ‘shimmery’ decays.

    is that a reflection of the demos, or is this acoustic synthesis process limited to more subtle sounds because of physical limitations of the instrument?

    1. Yes – to really be synthesis and not an effect, it needs to be able to really shape the sound over time. I’m not hearing that in this demo – even if it does sound very pretty!

  2. How does that thing attach to the surface of the guitar? If it is anything but a high-tech ‘sticky but removable with no residue’ like a Gelaskin or something, I’d have to buy a cheaper guitar for it — no way is that getting permanently attached to my Taylor.

  3. my comment about the ebow was less…why can this not be done with an ebow and more how can these two be utilized simultaneously

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