(R)Evolution of the Viper

We could easily fill a book about the creative process that went into the (r)evolution of the Viper but for now, here are some photos of Mark Wood’s collection of innovations and inventions, complete with descriptions. Want to find out more about Mark’s role in the history of the electric violin? Visit the History of Wood Violins page.


The Collection:

The first solid body violin, which Mark built when he was 12 years oldMy first solid body electric violin, built in 1972. The VioplexThe Vioplex: It seemed like a good idea at the time. Oh well. The DragolinThe Dragolin: My first attempt at a self supporting violin.  MW-DragolinThe wing fits perfectly on my chest.
 ViolazerThe Violazer, complete with a special barrel at the end of the instrument to shoot bottle rockets.  MW-ViolaserIt featured the carpet from my parent’s living room to cushion the instrument on my body. Its nickname is the vacuum cleaner violin. ViolintThe Violint:
An exact replica of my own hand and arm that I carved out of wood. It then morphed into the neck of the instrument. Then, I had to have something to support the strings. Hmmmm… a knife! Perfect to hold the strings and tail piece in place. 
MW-ViolintComplete with rock & roll collar to fasten the violin around my neck. 
Doubleneck-smThe Double Neck Violin:
Two distinctly different instruments welded together. One neck was my standard 6 string fretted curved bridge. The 2nd neck was a flat bridge 9 string fretted violin/mandolin hybrid. They both were attached and welded to a camera tripod borrowed from my father and attached to a studded shoulder harness. This was the main instrument that I recorded “Voodoo Violince” with. 
MW-DoubleNeckTuning from high to low on the 9-string: Double unison E strings, double unison A strings, D string with octave D, G, C, F. It was relatively comfortable but I didn’t ever focus in on that as much as focusing in on having 2 completely different musical experiences, like a double neck guitar. I was very much inspired by Jimmy Page and how he approached Stairway to Heaven with his double neck guitar providing alternating sounds for different parts of that song. The 9 string neck really was like a hybrid mellotron/hurdy gurdy, so where I had the bow hair hitting more than 2-3 strings on the curved bridge, I had it hitting 6-8 strings on the flat bridge, creating chords. I would put it through a Leslie effect pedal which made it sound like a Hammond B3 organ. The SpaceolinThe Spaceolin:
Complete with glow wire outlining the skeleton of the traditional shape of a violin. 
MW-glowI performed with this one, night after night with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Hey, I had to compete with the lasers.
HeadlessThe Headless Viper was the first reversed geared violin. Viper-original2The original Viper had flat wings but I found out very quickly that the wings need to be specially angled. Mark's personal ViperMy personal Viper, shown in its original purple quilt finish, built 20 years ago. MW-PersonalViperSame Viper but with its new cherry burst exotic top. This will always be my favorite. It was the first to feature the correct angle measurements of the wings.

Other creations:

A note about the Pepsi prop Viper: This was the real Viper used in the Pepsi commercial I co-starred in with Miri Ben Ari, produced by Kanye West and featuring Naz. It was lit on fire by the special EFX guys from the Star Wars movies. I had the guys sign it. Beautiful and ugly.

Wanna see the prop Pepsi Viper in action? Here’s the commercial.