From Engineer to Musical Instrument Designer

[email protected]

From Engineer to Musical Instrument Designer

Born in 1968 in a small town close to Zurich Switzerland

Started playing the trumpet in his early childhood.

Did always a lot of sports as whitewater kayaking, ski mountaineering, mountain biking, badminton

Was 19 years the president of Canoe Club Zurich

High School in Zurich

Studied Material Science at Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

Bred and butter jobs as kayaking, trekking and mountainbike guide

PhD in the field of natural composite materials

Head of the technical R&D department of an international industrial company during 8 years

Founder of the company „daCarbo AG“, development and worldwide distribution of wind instruments

Plays trumpet and trombone wiht the Swiss funk band LöFönk (

Dr. Andi Keller
daCarbo AG
Beulweg 58
CH-8853 Lachen

Office +41 55 442 18 24
Cell/WhatsApp/Facetime: +41 79 614 54 05
Skipe ID: gabiandi
[email protected]

Technology is Cool

My father was originally a precision technician. He ran a commercial business selling raw materials and machines for the plastics industry. Some of the machines he developed by himself and had built-in series. That’s how I became enthusiastic about technology at an early age. Already in high school, I did not doubt that I would become an engineer. Thanks to contacts in the plastics industry, I chose to study materials engineering/materials science. I was fortunate to study at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, one of the world’s most renowned universities.

Bread-and-Butter-Jobs Get You Ahead

I largely financed my university degree myself by interrupting my studies several times to earn money for my living. Since I enjoy outdoor activities a lot, I hired a tour guide for an adventure travel operator. This allowed me to lead trekking tours, kayaking tours (I am an experienced white water kayaker), and mountain bike tours in Bosnia, Croatia, and France. Because of the international participants, I was forced to improve my poor school French and school English. I learned to speak freely in front of many people and to take responsibility. These are skills that made my entire professional life possible and easier.

A Material Scientist in Agricultural Research

During my studies, I specialized more and more in plastic composite materials, as I already had an insight into this industry through my father. After graduating from university, I took a job in agricultural research. I investigated the possibilities and potential of using renewable raw materials, especially plant fibers and natural polymers, in industrial applications. Part of my research was incorporated into my doctoral theses. During this time, I acquired a great deal of in-depth knowledge in composites and process engineering. I then remained faithful to these fields throughout my life.

Industrial Experience

Since I am a very hands-on person, I was drawn to the industry after my research career. I got the chance to manage the R&D department of a globally active company in the machine industry. There, I first came into contact with acoustic challenges. We made noisy machine parts – e.g., in spinning machines or mail sorting systems – quieter by using composite materials to suppress unwanted vibrations specifically. In addition to the technical aspects, I learned a lot about business administration and all the social aspects of a larger company. I learned how to deal with employees, suppliers, and customers and gained many soft skills that enabled me later to start my own company.

The industrial company was, among other things, also active as an automotive supplier. The share of my work for this sector has increased more and more. The unimaginable number of cars that are built by an automotive manufacturer every day implies an extremely reliable supply chain. This reliability is ensured by complex and elaborate quality assurance systems. Nevertheless, prices are constantly depressed and tough contracts are negotiated. I increasingly had to deal with legal rather than technical issues. This was no longer my world and I left the company without a specific plan.

Start as an Entrepreneur

Soon it became clear that I would prefer to pursue my own ideas and there was a crazy idea that had been dormant in me for some time:

I’ve been playing trumpet at a pretty respectable level since I was a kid and later learned to play the trombone as well. These wind instruments require power and energy for the player. A good part of this energy is lost through inaudible vibrations of the instrument wall. If these vibrations could be suppressed, playing the trumpet and most other wind instruments would be easier. From my time in the industry, I knew this could be achieved smartly using composite materials. I then looked deeper into musical acoustics literature and was amazed that this concept had never been described before.

It took me almost a year to find an instrument maker who would work with me to implement this concept. We then immediately founded a forerunner of today’s company, „daCarbo“ (, which then won a research grant that allowed us to develop the prototype of a carbon trumpet. The prototype has inspired well-known musicians, which helped to receive the capital for the market launch from the entourage of casual contact. One and a half years after the idea, the first product of daCarbo AG was thus on the market. Since then, we have developed another model or even another wind instrument almost every year.

daCarbo trumpets, trombones, flugelhorns, and saxophones are noticeably easier to play, respond very quickly, intonate well and have a consistent sound across all registers. Musicians are not afraid that the sound will break away. They can rely on the instrument one hundred percent and thus play more relaxed. The energy remains for the essential, the music. This was recognized from the beginning by many top musicians worldwide so that we quickly gained a solid foothold in the top league. Today, countless Grammy winners and other highly successful musicians are among our customers. But daCarbo is still a small company. Every single instrument goes through my hands. For the time being, we are growing organically. Should an interesting constellation arise, accelerated growth with additional investors is also conceivable.

Bottom Line

I was born with a technical flair, which I have always followed. Throughout my professional career, I have always pursued what I was most interested in at the time. Even the bread-and-butter jobs have been related to one of my passions. Therefore I was always highly motivated in what I was doing. From all my activities, I have gained experiences and got new perspectives.

I never thought that one day I would build musical instruments. Today I combine the hobby of music with the profession of an engineer. My leisure time and my professional job have merged. I am delighted. Who knows what the future will have to offer?

From Engineer to Musical Instrument Designer

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