This editorial feature is based on an interview with Michael Wiener, CEO of DOLFINOS, from August 2022. You can read the whole interview below.
The STRAD: Could you firstly explain the initial product - the rest system? Why was it made and what are its general features?
Michael: The DOLFINOS rest system is the first complete violin rest in the world developed by an interdisciplinary team from Zurich Universities in collaboration with Hannover University and Cambridge University (Physics, Acoustics, Dermatology, Physiology, Engineering, Materials Science, Advanced Manufacturing & Musicmedicine) plus leading musicians, violin professors and industry designers. The approach also took the special needs of viola players and the necessity to have an adaptable device into account. Our system not only fits various body types, but also accompanies you through a whole life span and career, starting with the ½ size violin. The goal was to create a product “which literally grows with you”. The term complete means it includes everything a violinist or a violist needs to interact perfectly with the instrument: A variety of fully adaptable chinrests and shoulderrests and a non-invasive adapter that connects everything to the instrument.
The STRAD: Why did DOLFINOS decide to create this new edition?
Michael: The Pioneer Edition and its successor the AIR Edition are our single piece manufactured flagship products. We recently added the L.A. Edition, which was developed in collaboration with Leonidas Kavakos. These 3 models are often preferred by soloists and concertmasters. However it was always the plan to bring down the price of our solution and make it affordable to everyone. As we did not want to simplify the technology, (the high functionality can only be realized with the over 50 parts we build into our rest system), the production process had to be simplified. The first step in this direction was the injection molded CARBON Edition.
The STRAD: What are the main NEW features of the carbon signature edition (and could you explain what each of these features add to the product and why you decided to add them)?
Michael: The new features of the SIGNATURE Edition were not achievable in one step, since we did not know how to bring 40% Carbon fibres into a tiny and filigree piece, such as our shoulderrest wing. (Consisting of only ca. 20 Gramms of material!) With the first injection molded version we succeeded to fill it with 20% Carbon fibres. With the SIGNATURE we almost have a version as rigid and durable as the AIR, for only half of the price! This is a real technology breakthrough and has, beside the drastically lowered price, a crucial and multiple benefit for our user: It is a lot stiffer, and lighter than the initial CARBON Edition. Last but not least its sound properties are significantly better as well.
The STRAD: Could you list each of the materials used in each part of the product, and why you chose them?
Michael: On our website we are very transparent about the manufacturing and features of our products. We avoid endangered or medically questionable materials and we produce under fair conditions. The goal of our company is to behave in a nature and climate friendly way. That means a customer gets with us “true prices” which is a concept we think all companies should follow. Only like this the full cost for society and nature is reflected honestly and in a sustainable way. I know, one answer is still open. How about the list of materials? I hope you understand we cannot publish the full details of our materials as we keep a few secrets which we do not want to reveal to those who will try to copy us.
The STRAD: What exactly is made of carbon here, and could you explain the process of making this?
Michael: The injection molding machine is a very expensive, complicated and extremely strong machine. Only the best mold steel is durable enough to resist the high temperature and pressure we need to produce thousands and thousands of theses shoulderrest wings with such a high ratio of Carbon fibres. To fill in the liquid with the fibres requires a pressure of 250’000kg.
The STRAD: What makes this product innovative?
Michael: It is made to let the player forget they play with something in between them and the instrument. Our product immediately reveals and allows the instrument to ring much more freely.
The STRAD: Would you recommended it over the other editions - the descriptions of it seems to indicate that it combines all the best elements of your previous models?
Michael: I always say: "Not everybody is able to splurge on a flagship product, yet everybody wants to have a “non plus ultra solution”. Regardless whether you chose a PURE, an AIR or a SIGNATURE Edition, it will be the “non plus ultra” of your choice."
The STRAD: How long lasting is it?
Michael: All wearing parts can be easily replaced and ordered from our webshop. That means our products are built to last. Most of our early adopters still use all original parts of their system. I give you one example of how we strive for perfection and durability: With the help of our pioneering customers we have tested the rest system for a full year. At the end of this period we only had to evidently improve one thing: The spring system which is part of the adapter. The spring is made of a shape memory alloy and there is only one company in the US which was able to deliver the required quality. But the problem was not the quality of the spring. It was the functionality of the built in spring stop, the form and thickness of the spring itself which, on a long term run, showed weaknesses in certain applications of customers who regularly played on pressure limits. I am glad to announce, we just have successfully accomplished the redesign of the whole spring system.
The STRAD: I also asked this in the context of price, as it is quite expensive if we compare it to if we just bought one shoulder rest and one chin rest. Why is it worth it?
Michael: This is a really important point. Thank you for asking. This helps to make something much more tangible for your reader. All of us intuitively know: If we take climate change into consideration, we must radically calculate the true price and sustainability of a product. But there is also a surprisingly simple calculation every player can do. A DOLFINOS product is something you can play for thousands of hours and through all life ages because a) it is a solid Swiss design which is built to last and b) can be easily serviced, and c) is designed to “grow with you”. The last argument is, from a user’s perspective, maybe the most important one: No matter how often you change your instrument and how your body changes over time, the very same DOLFINOS can be adapted to nearly any new circumstances. Ultimately you buy it one time and can keep it for years. And let me add on last thing: In the past, most parents, teachers, students and musicians were looking for low cost devices, as all other expenses could not be reduced: violin, rental costs, insurance, bow rehairs, strings. Today DOLFINOS gets feedbacks from satisfied customers who say: “What matters most is my performance and my wellbeing and I tell anybody to stop wasting their time and money continuing to add mismatching and mediocre devices in your chin- and shoulderrest drawer!”
The STRAD: What are you and Dolfinos most proud about with this new product?
Michael: Everyday we get letters from customers describing the life changing effects they experience through using our products. We just published a list on our website with some of these feedbacks for which we are very very grateful.