Experiments / Analyses of Composite Materials in String Instruments

Participants: Negin Abaeian, Ye Lu, Gary Scavone and Larry Lessard

Period: 2012 - 2013


Since 2008, we have conducted several collaborative investigations with Dr. Larry Lessard in the Structures and Composite Materials Laboratory, Mechanical Engineering Department, McGill University, investigating the use of composite materials to replace various parts of string instruments. The work conducted in CAML focuses on finite element modeling of wood and composite top plates (violins and guitars), as well as experimental modal analyses to inform and refine the models. Work on violin top plates was reported in an M.A. thesis (Lu, Y., 2013). A project involving a composite shell for the Chenda, an Indian percussion instrument, was reported in (Damodaran et al., 2015). A current M.A. thesis project with Negin Abaeian is focusing on steel- and nylon-string guitar top plate designs. The overall goal of these studies is to find alternative materials to produce more durable instruments and/or to find replacements for endangered wood species typically used in the construction of an instrument (such as rosewood, which is often used for guitar fingerboards), without having to sacrifice on sound quality.


  • Damodaran, A., Mansour, H., Lessard, L., Scavone, G. and Suresh Babu, A. “Design, manufacturing and testing of a cylindrical drum-shell using a sandwich structure.” In Proceedings of the 19th International Conference on Composite Materials, Montreal, Canada, pp. 1153-1158, 2013.