Fender Acoustic SFX Amplifier
The natural sound of an acoustic guitar and what it means to the player. We wanted to enhance the experience with this amplifier by creating a connection with the natural wood materials, and challenging the idea of an amplifier being a square black box. This provided a canvas for the creation of an amplifier where the overall design language matches the sound quality.
UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
Utilized the use of bent plywood with a nice finish that compliments the acoustic guitar and provides a strong relation to the instrument. Utilized new handle/carrying design for a better ergonomic experience.
OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:
The amplifier will achieve the optimal sonic results when placed in a room with several walls. The acoustic guitar player will plug their guitar into the amplifier and select an effect with the controls on top of the amplifier. The combination of the side firing speaker and acoustic properties of the amplifier, using the SFX technology can provide a very full, room-filling sound.
PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:
The initial research was begun in San Francisco in March 8, 2013.
The initial units were shipped to stores at the end of September, beginning of October 2015.
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:
The furniture industry was explored for their use, manufacture and presentation of bent plywood. This product is made from FSC plywood. This is combined with injection molded plastics as well as overmolded components on both the handle and base. The SFX technology and digital technology are developed by Fender musical instruments.
SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:
Width 400mm x Depth 235mm x Height 464mm
Two-channel 160-watt 2x80W stereo combo amplifier; ¼ in. XLR combo jacks
One 8" Low-Frequency Driver and One 6.5" Side-Radiating Speaker
One - Compression Driver High-Frequency Horn
Patented SFX technology creates natural acoustic tones that fill the room.
Onboard effects, including hall reverb, echo, delay, chorus and Vibratone
Acoustic Amplifier, Acoustic SFX, Bent Plywood, SFX, Acoustic
For our main research, we interviewed and observed acoustic guitar players in their playing environments. Specific questions were asked by one of the team members. For example: "What does Acoustic mean to you?" "What is important to you from a control standpoint of your amplifier?" Some of the observations were conducted during live shows whereby the participants did not know we were there. This provided us unbiased or colored responses. The main takeaways from these observations and interviews, were that simplicity is key in the control function. Portability was also an important factor. The natural sound of the instrument must come through. This also affected the thought process by which we used the nice finished bent plywood, which complements the acoustic guitar as well. The thought that we could achieve these results as well as create a new design language that challenged the conventional notion of an amplifier in a square black box.
One of the biggest challenges from a production standpoint was the marrying of the different technologies and materials to work together well - bent plywood, plastics, rubber, cloth. Most guitar amplifiers are 'black boxes', so being able to introduce a new amplifier with exposed and nicely finished wood, as opposed to a vinyl covered box was a challenge. With the shape constraints, being able to create a manufactured 'sealed wood box' that had the optimal and rich sound characteristics desired was also a challenge.
TEAM MEMBERS (6) :
Fender Vice President, Design: James Gifford, Fender Director, Product Marketing Electronics: Shane Nicholas, IDEO Director: Elger Oberwelz, Fender Vice President, R&D, Electronics: Ken Porter, Fender Director, R&D, Software: Denis Lambert and Fender Director, R&D, Electronics: Jason Stillwell
Fender Musical Instruments Corp.