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ARS TECHNICA / Guitar hero: Ars builds the Loog, a Kickstarter-funded mini-rocker kit

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Ready to rock? My Electric Loog arrives, just shy of a year after the Kickstarter launch—and after a long stay in a container at the Port of Los Angeles.
Sean Gallagher

A little less than a year ago, I backed a Kickstarter project launched by Rafael Atijas, a New York based designer. The project was the Electric Loog, a small, three-string electric guitar designed for children (and adults) to jam with. It seemed like a perfect project—Atijas created the Loog as part of a master's thesis at NYU, and he was working on refining the design for production.

The risks seemed minimal. Atijas already successfully executed an acoustic version of the Loog in 2011, and that knocked its funding goal out of the park. This time, for $150, I'd get an instrument for my collection with plenty of upside. I could build the Loog and share it with my daughter. Maybe I could even take it along with me while I travel for Ars, jamming in hotel rooms with headphones on. I happily said "Shut up and take my money," then sat back and waited for an anticipated May delivery.

This past week, after a series of twists, turns and delays, my Loog arrived. Following Atijas' updates along the way has been the equivalent of reading a business case study in why it's so hard to execute what is essentially a "maker" project as a mass-produced product. The Loog encountered manufacturing problems in China, a port strike in Los Angeles, and quality control issues during production ramp-up that resulted in a few small flaws in the delivered guitars. Atijas had to make what he characterized as a "flash" trip to China just last week when the latest issues emerged. Now his New York company is unboxing everything left in the first shipment to check for issues, and Atijas is preparing to ship out replacements to backers with flawed guitars in order to make-good on his promise.

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