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Yamaha Silent Bass

A few years ago the research and development team at Japan’s Yamaha headquarters were posed with a problem: Japanese musicians living in their tiny, cramped apartments were having trouble practicing because the sound from their instruments bothered the neighbors. The engineers at Yamaha came up with an innovative solution: They designed a series of practice instruments that looked and felt and played like conventional instruments in every respect except one-they were silent. What Yamaha did was to remove the instrument’s ability to resonate. Thus, the Silent bass looks in many respects like a bass, but it lacks the box from which the sound would form. In fact, what it most looks like is the skeleton of a bass.

The Silent instrument series was an apparent success in Japan, so it was brought to the United States, where the first thing that musicians asked was, “So, where do you plug it in?” But the Japanese design team had never even considered making these practice instruments electronic, which may be the design’s greatest advantage.

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