Kickstarting Acoustic Synthesis


Paul Vo, the inventor of the technology behind the Moog Guitar and Moog Lap Steel instruments has for some years been experimenting with a new method of sound design: acoustic synthesis. Unlike traditional methods of analog and digital sound generation, acoustic synthesis creates new sounds and methods of musical expression by controlling the vibrations of actual physical objects.

Now Vo is preparing to put his concept into production, in the form of the Vo-96 Acoustic Synthesizer. The Vo-96 Acoustic Synthesizer is a device that attaches to a standard acoustic guitar that augments and controls the vibration of guitar strings, dramatically expanding the sonic capabilities of the standard acoustic guitar.

Vo’s earlier designs were produced by Moog Music. With the first ‘acoustic synthesizer’, though, Vo is going a different route, funding production through a Kickstarter campaign.

Here’s an improvisation by Chris Stack with the Vo-96. Stack notes, “In this example, I explore some of the less extreme areas, just outside the normal acoustic guitar space.”

Hardware and Software

The Vo-96 system consists of two hardware elements, a powerful analog and digital signal processing (DSP) vibration control engine called the Core-96, and a transducer “pickup” with an attached user interface. Once installed you see only the transducer/interface, the rest is hidden safely inside the guitar.

The Vo-96’s operating software (firmware) at its current revision already defines an instrument that is powerful, deep, and great fun to play. Future firmware updates will be based on guitarists’ feedback. Customers who connect with us through this Kickstarter campaign will take part in defining the future of acoustic synthesis.

The Vo-96 hardware design is set, tested, very powerful, and will not change prior to the ship date. Hardware changes are a big reason why some crowd-funding projects end up shipping late. There are no plans to change the hardware in the future, but the Vo-96 behaviors and features will continue to evolve for some time to come.


  • 12 physical sensoriactuator channels, 2 per string
  • 96 virtual channels of harmonic control, 16 per string
  • Capacitive touch interface with LED status indication and lock-out
  • Power, harmonic blend and note duration touch-sliders
  • Adjustable modulation effects with instant preset save/recall
  • 6 quick-change presets in 3 sets of 2 using odd, even and all harmonics
  • 3 harmonic arpeggios unique to six presets independently triggered on 6 strings
  • Hex random harmonic modulation with average rate and amplitude adjust
  • Hex Tremolo with separate triggers per string and rate touch-slider
  • Bluetooth Wireless connectivity for firmware updates and TBD advanced features
  • No moving parts – built to last as long as your guitar
  • Attaches and removes without marring your guitar
  • Designed to run on optional internal battery power or external power adaptor
  • Optional 4/hr advanced LiFePo4 battery with integral charging
  • Hardware platform has large uncommitted resources for firmware expansion

More information is available at the Kickstarter site.

6 thoughts on “Kickstarting Acoustic Synthesis

  1. I like his idea, I still don’t call it synthesis, just an acoustic way of sustaining the strings and adding in extra harmonics. BUT I do NOT think this box that sits on a guitar top should cost $1K. He would sell a LOT more if it was $200 and would make his money by volume. Too much money to put in to support this thing that I don’t even know if I’m going to really use it.

  2. I’d like to see this technology implemented in other metal stringed instruments, like violins, pianos, etc. Maybe even basses… although I know bass players who would have TOO much fun with this.

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