English electronic rock band Klaxons are about to play the first-ever 3D printed tour. The band members will solely be playing on 3D printed instruments, amplifiers and even the lighting and wiring will be 3D printed. Their accompanying video seems to be kind of a persiflage on the international 3D printing hype, with playing members of The Office’s UK version. Despite their sense of humor, the 3D printed world tour definitely seems to be a real announcement. But are 3D printed instruments as good as the real thing?
Klaxons will be touring this year’s October and November, and they will only be using 3D printed instruments and equipment in order to do so. A great publicity stunt to promote their new album Love Frequency, which will be released on June 16. In a band statement, bassist and vocalist Jamie Reynolds says: “We were looking for something for the tour, something big, something fresh, so why not 3D printing?”
Well, I guess we can sum up some proper reasons not to use 3D printing while playing. During last year’s cultural festival TEDxAmsterdam violin player Joanna Wronko was asked first to play on a handmade violin and then on a 3D printed violin, to find out whether there are or aren’t differences between the two instruments.
Well, there are. In short, you could say that each instrument has its own character, but all 3D printed violins kind of sound the same. “It’s missing a certain vibration,” said Wronko. “The very special thing about every wooden violin is that every is one of a kind, because it’s hand-made. So every single instrument has spots and notes, which are a little bit weaker and stronger. So as a musician when you get to know the instruments you just look for the spots.”
In order to find out more about 3D printed instruments, we interviewed Todd Reese, who is president of Realize, Inc.; a manufacturer of 3D printed ukeleles. He also plays music himself and we therefore asked him whether he would go for 3D printed ukuleles or for a handcrafted counterpart. This is what he answered: “I play guitar as a hobby. Personally, I would go for handcrafted, which is what makes each one so unique and beautiful. But, as I said before, there will no doubt be a market for 3D printed instruments.”
So we asked him if he thinks 3D printed instruments will one day replace their handcrafted counterparts, and the 3D printed ukeleles manufacturer really did not think so, according to his answer: “Replace? No. I think there will absolutely be a market for them, but nothing beats the beauty of a hand-made instrument, in my opinion.”
So, this tour will surely be a great marketing stunt for Klaxons, but will the 3D printed elements be a benefit to the sound of these gigs? Probably not. If you want to experiment with this technique as a band, you could better not let it affect your actual music, like Kele from Bloc Party did when he released the first-ever 3D printed record or like Cut/Copy did when they released a 3D printed video clip.
However, we might be wrong and we can’t deny that right now we’re quite curious about the sound of this tour. Maybe buying a ticket would be an idea.. Well, Klaxons: mission accomplished.