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Timbre Cases And UNB Protect Guitars

Peter McMath is carrying on a proud New Brunswick musical tradition, though it’s only indirectly related to playing an instrument or singing a song.

McMath is president of Timbre Cases, a Fredericton startup that is dedicated to making the best guitar cases available. A lifelong music fanatic, he wants to emulate the success of local companies Sabian Cymbals and Los Cabos Drumsticks, which have excelled in the global market for music equipment.

“What we set out to do was design and make molded instrument cases out of plastic,” said McMath in a recent interview at a table along the banks of the Saint John River. “We’re starting with acoustic guitars and we’re looking to scale into other instruments out of the gate.”

Timbre Cases incorporated in February and comprises McMath, Jamie Sinclair, in charge of design and marketing, and Brian Yonker, heading sales.

McMath said there have been no advances in guitar cases in the past two to three decades, and he and his team have set out to change this. The pain this causes was highlighted in 2008 when Halifax musician Dave Carroll had his guitar totalled during a flight, resulting in the online hit song, United Breaks Guitars.

As well as a sleek design, Timbre Cases has set out to produce a case that will protect the instrument. The team has worked with Felipe Chibante, a chemical engineer at the University of New Brunswick, to find the best materials to ensure a protective case that houses a cushioned interior. It has also teamed up with New Brunswick manufacturers to produce the molded-plastic cases.

“We’re lucky to have some great suppliers who understand what it is we’re doing,” said McMath.

He said the molds for the new cases should be ready this month, and the company hopes to have a prototype ready for the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival in Fredericton next week.

Guitars are frequently damaged when they’re placed sloppily in a case with the neck hanging out, then the case shuts suddenly and the neck is snapped, said McMath. To help prevent this, the company’s cases have “constant torque hinges” so they only close if someone purposefully pushed them shut.

Another problem is latches being knocked off the cases during transportation, so the latches on this case are recessed, so they don’t knock against anything. And they include recessed wheels as well, so they can be pulled as well as carried.

The guitar cases will retail for about $749, which makes them competitive with high-end guitar cases, which tend to go for about $800 to $1,300.

He said the company is now raising a seed round of funding worth about $50,000 to $100,000, which it plans to leverage with money from government programs.

Once the acoustic guitar case is on the market, the company plans to expand into cases for other products, like mandolins and banjos. Eventually, McMath hopes the company will join the ranks of Sabian and Los Cabos is providing superb products to musicians around the world.

“We see ourselves as being part of the music industry in New Brunswick and we’re so proud to be part of it,” he said.