Starting a musical instrument company at any time is a brave move, but starting one in an icy recession and basing yourself in Lerwick in the Shetland Islands calls for a degree of sang froid which would surely impress the most rampant entrepreneur.
Robbie Thomas admits it has been a bit of a struggle, but is clearly delighted by the adoption by Stentor – hardly surprising as it gives the Linnd Laxo immediate access to all the world’s major markets.
“I’ve been talking with Michael Doughty (Stentor’s MD) since the day we started the project and he’s both a good friend and fount of all knowledge, so I’m really pleased he has taken it on,” Thomas says.
Stentor’s faith in the new product seems well-founded. On a very well produced website, the Linnd Laxo is well demonstrated and reports from users say that it does exactly what its designer Kenny Johnson set out to do: allow a violin to produce its natural tone, eliminate ‘splay’ and keep the instrument securely held in place with the minimum of pressure. It may not sound high-tech, but it took some serious CADCAM R&D, not to mention significant expenditure on the latest moulding technology and materials to develop.
Given the world we live in today, Thomas is quick to point out that the Linnd Laxo is already very well protected by patents both in the UK and internationally.
Interestingly for a product being sold to such a traditional market, the initial test marketing took place via Facebook and it worked. “Yes, it surprised me too,” Thomas admits with a laugh. “It was only a short campaign – I didn’t do the 20 adverts you’re supposed to do, but it was fascinating to see how changing your wording made an enormous difference.”
Now with international distribution secured, Pure Acoustic is set to spread its wings. “This is the first model in a range – quarter, half-size and a viola version will follow as fast as we can and the whole range is designed to sell through violin retailers.
“The first version is designed for the three quarters to full size classical violin: the profile is, in fact, designed to put the violin in the correct classical position and the reaction from teachers has been fantastic. It provides a very stable platform, it’s height adjustable and it works. I haven’t yet heard a violin where it didn’t make a difference to the sound. It works with cheap violins as well as expensive ones and even with carbon fibre violins, you can hear a real difference.”
Thomas admits that the decision to manufacture the Linnd Laxo in the UK was a slightly defiant gesture, but goes on to add that, in fact, the UK is a world leader in injection moulding technology, so the move wasn’t entirely quixotic.
“Even with our wildest projections, we’re going to be able to cope with producing it in the UK and, anyway, we want to keep some money coming into the UK.” he says.
Linnd Laxo rests are just the start, Thomas says. Pure Acoustic already makes the Skyinbow electric violin series and has a range of advanced instrument pickups about to be debuted at Frankfurt.