Pers | Product Design

door KG onder product design

AVUE | Alpha Z-frame

The American industrialist and founder of Ford Motor Company once said: "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." Adams Musical Instruments is proud to welcome marimba legend Nancy Zeltsman as an artist, and is pleased to announce the result of our first cooperation: The Alpha Z-frame.

Nancy Zeltsman is a leading marmiba performer, teacher, and festival director. She has premiered over 125 solo and chamber works, and has presented recitals and marimba master classes all over the world. With her own musical vision and playing style, Nancy became a true icon in the marimba world through her own musical vision and playing style. Since 1993, she has taught marimba in positions created for her at The Boston Conservatory, where she has been Chair of the Percussion Department since 2005, and Berklee College of Music, where she is a Professor. Since 2001, she has been Artistic Director of Zeltsman Marimba Festival (ZMF), an annual two-week seminar held in a different location each summer ( In the fall of 2013, Nancy was appointed as regular guest professor of marimba at Conservatorium van Amsterdam, where she teaches two weeks per year.

Nancy's first contact with Adams was made during one of her trips to Amsterdam. "I knew that Nancy was looking for a new marimba to fulfill her musical expectations, and we invited her to pay us a visit while she was in Amsterdam", says Ruud Corstjens (Adams). "Since we had never met in person, I was keen on having an open conversation with her at our factory in Holland. Things clicked from the first moment."

A few months later, she returned to Adams and momentum begun to build. "Nancy told me that she was really impressed with our new Alpha tuned bars, and that she had ideas regarding a new frame design. At the same moment, Adams was already doing some tests with a Z-shaped frame. These two ideas came together to begin the process to find Nancy a frame that she would love as much as the Alpha keyboard. We called the designers of KesselsGranger to help us fit the ideas to the Alpha styling. You can see the result in the photos in this magazine - it is an absolutely striking frame design."

"Everyone at Adams is thrilled that this process ultimately has led to Nancy joining our artist roster. The openness and easy manner that shaped this cooperation is a natural fit for Adams, and we look forward to future collaboration with Nancy. She represents a playing style and philosophy that is new to our artist roster, and I am convinced that we have made each other stronger. Pure synergy!"

Nancy Zeltsman
I'm so excited about the forthcoming release of the new "Alpha Z" marimba frame! Discussing ideas for it with Frans Swinkels and Ruud Corstjens at Adams has been a fabulous experience. I've been so pleased by their openness.

I love the lines of the upper-frame of the original Adams Alpha marimba designed by KesselsGranger DesignWorks (released in 2012). My suggestion was to continue its sleek, modern design elements into the lower portion of the frame for a cohesive look. I was delighted that Frans and Ruud brought Steven Kessels and James Granger back in to work on the project.

One challenge was how to integrate the height-adjustment system into a design element. It was a funny coincidence (given the Z of my surname) that designers at Adams had recently experimented with a Z-shaped end-frame (initially considered for a vibraphone). The height adjustment hardware was incorporated into the slant of the "Z." I immediately liked it and saw potential for it to complement aspects of the Alpha's upper-frame. I think the resulting design is very striking aesthetically - and unique!

Frans, Ruud and I also brainstormed a new color combination that we feel is warm, yet modern. The rich, dark-brown coordinates with the tones of the natural wood frame and bars. The elegant, light-beige resonators offer a fresh, neutral color that perhaps makes the resonators less heavy visually, and draws the eye to all the interesting angles of the frame. Voilà, the "Alpha Z"!

For many years, a major goal of mine has been to play in a manner that emphasizes the fundamental pithces of the marimba, and to carefully balance chords to allow harmonies to be as clear as possible. Adams' unique method of bar-tuning, developed for the Alpha model, focuses pitches extremely well - across all regsiters of the instrument. As I've played more and more on the Alpha, I've been continually thrilled by what I'm hearing! It's been a revelation to play on the Alpha pieces I've known and played for years, and to hear more pitch clarity than I'd thought was possible.

I feel honored to join the roster of distiguished artists who have chosen Adams instruments, and look forward to long future playing on and presenting Adams instruments. The most important thing to me is creative inspiration, and I'm finding it with the Alpha marimba, the prospect of the "Alpha Z"!

The design of the Zeltsman frame was initiated by the personal request of Nancy Zeltsman. She longed for a more integrated frame for the Alpha Series, which called for a different height adjustment system and a shorter front track width between the caster wheels on the treble side of the instrument.

With the technical boundaries laid out by the skilled engineers at Adams, we created an individual design that is immediately recognisable, yet incorporates the distinctive Alpha Series form language. The track width of the caster wheels at the treble end has been reduced by about 10%, which eases movement around the instrument without compromising on stability.

The singular pillar design of the Zeltsman frame was inspired by the fixed landing gear of aircraft, offering a handsome and strong casting with an elegant streamlined shape. The wing-shaped supports present a flowing and minimalist design solution. The profile of the frame provides a stylistic gesture of offering the keyboard to the player, creating a triangluar entirety inspired by the Kepler triangle, which is linked to the golden ratio.

Furthermore, the Z-shaped frame is a direct reference to the Zeltsman name.

The wooden frame under which the wheels are attached continues the curved theme of the resonators and Adams wing. It presents a link to the American Streamline movement and the golden age of travel.

The colourway of hte instrument has been carefully selected together with Nancy. The champagne-coloured resonators are offset by the dark chocolate brown frame, resulting in a natural yet destinctive combination.

We wish Nacy Zeltsman lots of pleasure with her new instrument, transporting her audience on an unforgettable musical journey.