How many times have you thought up an idea for a “better mousetrap,” envisioning a new product or a product enhancement that might find a niche in the marketplace? Perhaps you were out fishing when a design for a better lure popped up… or working in the kitchen when a food prep device suggested itself.
Or maybe you’re a guitar player who imagines a more useful and attractive capo.
We all hear stories like this, but in almost all cases, it never goes beyond a concept, or a few initial discussions or consultations. Bringing a new product to market is an arduous process. Hundreds of hours, and thousands of dollars are required just to test a new design for feasibility and to estimate production costs, and not many folks can facilitate that on their own.
But sometimes, the right idea hits the right person at the right time, and when all three line up, the sky’s the limit. And this may be the case for Chris Bradley, who has teamed up with his daughter, Thalia, for the new Thalia Capo.
What began as an idea for a more aesthetically-appealing apparatus has turned into a radical new mechanism, and a different way of thinking about this simple but common device guitar players use every day.
It all started when Thalia was eight years old, pondering a Taylor Swift poster in her room. She noticed the stark difference between the beautifully figured wood in the guitar top, and the utilitarian look of the black metal capo affixed to the neck. She mentioned to her dad, who works in industrial design and mechanical engineering, that it would be nice to have a capo as pretty as the guitar, and the fuse was lit.
Now four years later, after prototyping with a variety of plastic and metal components, Chris is ready to begin production of his new capo model, named for his daughter, which is available in gold or chrome plated zinc, with either figured hardwood or abalone inlaid across the top.
He launched a crowdsourcing campaign on Kickstarter two weeks ago, and had pledges totaling almost 250% of their $10,000 goal in the first 24 hours. With 12 days left, they have more than $75,000 pledged and are using Kickstarter as a way to place orders for the first production run.
Here’s the video they created for that campaign…
In addition to his reverse clamp mechanism, described in the video above, Chris is excited about the material they have developed for the fret pad.
“One of the features that is unique about our capo is that you can easily slide the capo up and down the neck; this could be to make a smooth transition between songs or to actually change the key in the middle of a song. Traditional rubber or silicone that is used in other capos sticks to the strings and does not really allow for this. So to achieve that we tested about 20 different materials for durability, tonality, sound that it makes when sliding, and the ease of sliding; what we finally developed was a custom thermoplastic resin that is essentially POM (Polyoxymethylene) with some added PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) which is also known as Teflon. POM is a material that is used in plastic gears and is generally considered one of the most durable thermoplastics. By adding some teflon to this formulation we made it slipperier and so you also don’t hear string noise when you slide it.”
For those who prefer rubber, an upgrade kit is available that includes rubber pads for the capo, and pads scaled for use on banjo, 12 string guitar, and custom fingerboard widths.
We asked Chris if his plan was to make Thalia Capos his full-time occupation.
“Yes, that is hopefully a goal. I love playing guitar and music. I have spent much of my career designing and engineering products for other people. This one is a passion project. I would love to build this into a company and we have a bunch of other creative ideas for the music industry up our sleeves.
I have been in new product development for the past 20 years. I also run a product development consulting company called 2ndEdison, that has designed and engineered a whole range of consumer products for some of the world’s biggest brands. I have expertise in industrial design, mechanical engineering and supply chain. So it is fun to finally put these skills to work on a personal project that I have deep passion for, in an industry that I am excited to be a part of; and it is a bonus that this a project that I was able to start with my daughter Thalia.”
Can you imagine being 12 years old and co-owner of an exciting new company. It appears that Miss Thalia had a good idea!