Friday, December 09, 2005

The Calder Guitar Case - Review of a 2yr design process

Now we have the final design for the Ultra and are on the brink of production I wanted to review the design process so far. So here it is - starting with my first sketch and running through to the present design.

[This post will be work in progress for a while as I gather in images]

Dec 03 First sketch (that I can still find)- at this stage the look is organic with a ying-yang kinda line across the middle to break up the shape (this feature was to bug me later).

Early notebook sketch profile

Dec 03 Cardboard model - knocked up one rainy day to prove to myself the idea worked in 3D.

Cardbd 2

March 04 My final sketch sent to Bart Haney at SuperHappyBunny. The title "See-thru Angry" refers to initial idea that the Calder case would be translucent. The 'angry' comes from wanting to drop the organic look in favour of something with a more rock n roll edge.


April 04 Bart Haney from SuperHappyBunny created this for me to show some heavy hitters in the music products industry at Frankfurt Musik Messe. This picture grabbed everyone's attention and really set the Calder machine rolling.

Frankfurt ill 1

May 04 Hyper creative Bart generates lots of different profiles for the case - here's a couple we liked.

Bart p12

Bart p27

June 04 I settle on Bart's profile 29 for our prototype - pretty close to my original idea.

Bart profile 29

July 04 Nashville. Now working with UK designers Michael Mailling and John Wright.
John created these images ready for me to show prospective partners at NAMM Nashville.

I asked Michael to make the case sexy - he produced a heavily sculptured look that went down well at Nashville. The rear of the case was reconfigured so the case could stand upright easily.

CAD purple profile

red CAD open

September 05 Going 3D - foam models produced by Michael Mailling - this is a half size model we all thought looked very cool. One US guy said in its praise that it looked like an Italian sculpture...This worried me...I wanted a working case for rock musicians - not a piece of art.

IMG_1black model

Jan 05 Heathrow Airport - I get my first sight of the working prototype. Delivered to me by an anxious John Wright (M Mailling took the pic) an hour before I flew out the NAMM LA.

NCC w proto hw

Here's the prototype in my LA hotel room. The prototype was well recieved in LA.
But the mid body line soon began to bug me - it served no purpose - too designery.

April 05 To simplify the design we airbrush out the mid body line.
This image was our flagship thru Spring 05 - garnering lots of comment when we went public on this blog in May 05.

New profile

new 3/4

Oct 05 I'm working with carbon fiber ace and product designer Barry Noble. New product concept the Ultra. This is a carbon fiber/kevlar shell covered with a skin of leather or Cordura.

I'm falling out of love with the curvy design - its too fancy and creates all kinds of engineering problems. I begin to follow my minimalist instincts and send Barry sketches of alternative profiles. Here's one -

Ultra New Profile 10:11001

Barry was not impressed with this and so we went back to the earlier design. But I kept thinking there must be a better design. One night I produced this...and at last I had the the sort of simplicity and strength I wanted.

Ultra New Prof Final

Barry liked this version and we got together to polish up the lines - here's a lo rez mobile phone shot of Barry in drawing mode.

Barry working on new profile

The test was to see the thing in 3D so Barry made up the wooden model ... and it was good.

Final Ultra wd profile

categories: early development

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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Calder Guitar Case Story Ch24 Ultra - the Final Design

Here's the final design of the Calder Ultra.
Production starts Jan 2006.

This will be our flagship model - aimed at guitarists with high value instruments - $7000 and upwards. Final price of the Ultra is not yet set but it is likely to be in region $1000-1500.

The shots below are of a full size wooden model.
In the finished product the wood will be replaced by a carbon fiber/Kevlar shell covered with a zipped outer skin.

The skin will be available as a choice of either top grain English leather or a Swiss material Dynatec.

Dynatec is a development of Cordura - tougher and in cool colours and textures. (Dynatec is treated with a technique called Nanosphere® which shrugs off dirt.

We're sourcing zips with a Titanium finish from the Swiss company RiRi.

The interior of the case will be lined with British made crushed velvet.

We've minimised the design to make it as simple and as strong as possible - fit for purpose.

Final Ultra wd profile

The Ultra is slim - Strat type model will be approx 4.25 ins (10.5cm) deep. The Les Paul model will be about 5.25ins (13cm) deep.

Final Ultra wd 3/4

Ultra final wd 3/4 rear

Ultra final wd upr

The handle will be hand made from aluminium and wood.


Size relative to Strat and LP. I'll be posting shots of the suspension system that will hold the guitars in the next week or two.


Calder Originals Ultra w LP


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