Meet Glen – the man behind the Vi-tar violins!

I should also post an email I received… an embarassingly long time ago… but you know how it is… anyway, 2 years later, Glen!

This is very interesting! I was the first employee of Exinde. I was hired specifically to learn how to build the Vi-Tar. We were essentially a three man shop. Me, David Miller, and Jack Crom. Lee Larrison would come in to test and fine tune the setup of each instrument prior to shipping. With exception of the first 4 or 5 early instruments made, I had been involved with every Vi-Tar produced. The instrument reputed to be John Blair’s most certainly is Nefertiti. I had worked it when we upgraded the electronics after modifications were made in early production. Later models were made out of polyurethane with aluminum channel and t-bar providing the structural stability. They had no perfling. All original early models were manufactured in Franklin Ma, and were hand laid fiberglass. Very few models with the XI logo and Upton MA were made in fiberglass. The switch to injection molded polyurethane/aluminun was mafe to lessen the weight (major complaint) and reduce the manufacturing cost…primarily labor. If I can help with any questions please email me I was with the company throughout the entire Vi-Tar production period.
Glen

After a follow up email he went on to say:

I think the Vitar had a great chance to be a popular alternative or complement to the violin. I was 22 years old when they hired me. I just left a touring band to settle in that area. I don’t have any documentation to share except for the memory of being the Guy who helped keep that Vitar alive after the company (Exinde) filed chapter 11 and then became Xinde International. We then began to use polyurethane injection molding to produce projection TV housings for Advent Corp in Cambridge MA to support the Vitar production (my responsibility). Eventually we produced the 2nd version of the Vitar made of polyurethane/aluminum. I know that the bulk of Vitar production is of the former fiberglass construction.

All in all I doubt we ever made more than 200 Vitars. We made a bunch (14-20) for a Japanese distributor in 1973. These can be identified because both circuit boards were encapsulated with a black epoxy, which was also used as the material for the fingerboards! I know we made 1 yellow and one metal-flake red instrument for that shipment. There are no instruments made after mid 1972 that I did not personally assemble and paint until their demise.

My personal Vitar was a 4string with a fine gold metal-flake white color, conventional ebony friction tuners and gold hardware. SWEET and lighter than the standard! I sold it many years ago to someone in the Boston area. :’( One of a kind!!

I also designed the 2nd brochure (Black &white) did all the trade show booth design and played it (rather poorly) at the Chicago NAMM Show and at the Frankfurt Germany Music Messe in 1979.
It was a sad day for me when they discontinued production, but the company decided to focus on manufacturing polyurethane components for other companies.

Thanks for keeping the legacy of this wonderful American instrument alive! It coulda been a contender!!

Peace and Love
Glen

Very interesting! I’d love to find the red metal flake one myself… ;)  Thanks Glen!

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