Yamaha Design “Synapses” SV120



A Silent Violin that brings excellent sound damping characteristics to the superb playability of an acoustic violin.


Our goal was to create a violin that made as little sound as possible; a “silent” violin. How much could we reduce the sound of the violin without losing its legendary playability, refinement, and desirability? Relying on the principles of acoustics, we were able to create a genuinely silent violin position,


How far could we pare down the compositional elements of the violin without losing its playability or affecting its grace and presence? Could we purify the genuine nature of the violin? To reduce resonant amplification, we were able to reduce the size of the sound box and remove one entire side of the instrument’s body.


The essential element of playability; this design retains the wood strip on its right side as a bowing guide, utilizing the same fingerboard and bridge as an acoustic violin. Since it is also the same weight as its acoustic counterpart, the SV-120 offers an authentically natural playing experience.


This instrument had to be beautiful, no matter how avant-garde the results. Our design was to be easy for the musician to play, and feature an authentic, genuine appearance. At the same time, it was vital that the violin’s design supported the presence of the player, rather than assuming the limelight..

Takashi Honda
Takashi Honda
Yamaha Design Laboratory

How much can a violin be pared down?

The Silent Violin is an innovative design than retains only a single side of the instrument body. All aspects of the design are born from the need for playability, rather than from a desire for innovation. The SV-120 is our attempt to see how far we could pare down a violin whilst maintaining its identity.
We had to reduce the volume of its sound while preserving its playability and its grace and desirability to the many people that play the violin.. We analyzed the component elements of the original instrument, reconstructing to retain only those components necessary to maintain its playability.
When the SV-120 was first released, there was some debate about whether Yamaha should actually sell a violin with such an avant-garde design. Nevertheless, we received a great deal of praise once it went on sale, offering a chance for many older people to take up the violin. Sound is always a concern when practicing the violin, but the Silent Violin allows one to practice without worrying about others, even at night. I believe that this instrument has played a vital role in expanding the number of people who are now playing the violin.
(text: Yamaha Design Laboratory / Ikuo Mine)

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