November 15th, 2016 marks the day of formal recognition for the first new tuning system designed for stringed instruments since the 1980's. Tomm Stanley, Founder of Stonefield Musical Instrument Company, has been awarded US patent number 9,495,941 for his innovative tailpiece tuning system. Beginning work on the device in 2010, Tomm estimates that it was three years before he had a commercially viable design:
"With the apparent advantages of tailpiece tuning, I felt that what had been missing all these years was a system that's easy for the user to work with. I'd pondered the design possibilities for a long time and when I finally set to work on creating a device I focused on a number of goals that would both separate it from current offerings and guide my development process:
-Freedom of string choice: players must be able to choose the brand of string that they prefer, in any popular formulation offered by the major string makers
-Visual Appeal: at the very least the system must look like something that belongs on a modern electric bass, at best it would be considered attractive in its own right
-Smooth operation: if a child can't easily tune the instrument then the system isn't good enough
It was that last point, smooth operation, that was hardest for Tomm to achieve. He says that he had the tuning aspect working fine and the note range more than adequate in a matter of months but making the mechanism effortless to operate was the big challenge. Tomm says, "When I did get it right ... Eureka! What a moment to remember."
Though the process has been an emotional roller coaster for the Christchurch, New Zealand-based luthier, success began rolling in when New Zealand patent 626,756 and was granted on 3 May 2016. "The NZ patent was a validation of my effort but meant little in a commercial sense. We also have EU and UK patents pending but the granting of a US patent was first of my primary goals with it."
In addition to the Tomm Stanley™ Tuning System, basses from Stonefield® incorporate an array of innovative features on their four, five and six-string basses: laminated neck construction, passive electronics with remarkably versatile high, mid and low tone contols, floating bridge systems and the list goes on and on.
Check them out at the Stonefield Music website: www.stonefieldmusic.com