By Myki Angeline
The key ingredients to having an innovative, impactful product are bringing a unique vision to fruition, and the ability to genuinely connect with your customers. That is precisely what Helen Webman and her husband, Ofer have done with ToneWoodAmp.
ToneWoodAmp is a revolutionary portable device that attaches directly to your acoustic guitar with magnets, and vibrates sound through the sound hole. You can view a demonstration of this incredible product here.
ToneWoodAmp began in 2014 and has already received awards from Acoustic Guitar, Guitar Player Editor’s Pick, and the Platinum Award For Excellence by Guitar World. Over 100 acoustic guitar artists have given testimonials on how much this product has changed the way they play and perform.
We interviewed the inspiring co-founder Helene Webman, to learn how her and Ofer came up with this innovative concept, how her connections with their customers are the “secret sauce” to their success, and why every acoustic guitar player needs a ToneWoodAmp!
Visit the ToneWoodAmp website at www.tonewoodamp.com.
WiMN: As the co-founder of ToneWoodAmp please give us a summary on when you first started your company and what inspired this revolutionary creation.
HW: The official version is that Ofer, my husband and partner, smoked something really strong and illegal, and came up with a wild idea, ha! The simple truth, though, is that Ofer always felt that the acoustic guitar lacked something that electric guitar players had. When, through experimentation, Ofer became aware that it was actually possible to excite a surface and use it as a speaker, he came up with a concept that was worth exploring. ToneWoodAmp’s first heartbeat started in 2014 when Ofer started to bring home sponges and electronics and Frankenstein-ed parts together to make a prototype. It looked like a bomb, and little did we know, it would “explode” after our Kickstarter campaign. My part in this was to help make that happen, from innovation to development and manufacturing, but mostly, as a people person, by connecting with musicians and folks in the industry to create a community around the brand. It has always been a team effort to get this product on its feet and into the hands of musicians.
WiMN: How did some of your previous employment positions help to prepare you in your current career?
HW: From previously teaching ESL abroad, running a ceramic studios for years at a summer camp, and even attempting to invent my own product to help save energy for phone owners, I believe all my previous employment positions and life experiences have helped benefit us as a brand. But I always liked working with people. Ofer says that making a real connection is my “secret sauce.” All of my experiences were fueled by my passion for people. I love meeting new folks and seeing how we might build something greater— this has been the driving force in whatever I do.
WiMN: Do you have a musical background?
WiMN: I started playing the piano when I was 6 years old, it was something my parents had us kids do. Was I good at it? Not really, and I played for ten years—yes, ten years. I later realized I would have much preferred being a drummer, or a singer…. maybe one day.
WiMN: Where do you see ToneWoodAmp in the next two years?
HW: We are always working on new innovations and hope to share something new with everyone in 2020. In the meantime, we continue to spread the ToneWoodAmp around the world, and it’s truly amazing to see how far we have come.
WiMN: Have you seen any new trends in the ways people are making music?
HW: New technology has made it so much easier for musicians to create their own music in the comfort of their home instead of big studios. And with the rise of social media, it is now possible for new musicians to share their music to a broad audience in an instant. The TonewoodAmp arrived on the scene at a great time, because many artists love using it when they travel, in their living rooms, and even outdoors. Today, with just a cell phone and the ToneWoodAmp, creative players can do so much in terms of audio and video recording.
WiMN: Throughout your career working in the music industry, have you personally seen forward momentum in terms of girls participating in purchasing instruments that were traditionally played mainly by males?
HW: From what I see, women are really trying to make a platform for themselves. More women are playing the acoustic and electric guitar. I would love to see even more females sharing their music, and one of our missions with ToneWoodAmp is to gain a bigger audience of women making music.
WIMN: Finally, was there any piece of advice you received that not only stuck with you, but was part of the driving force that shaped your career today? Do you have any advice to share based on your own journey in this industry?
HW: I grew up with parents who showed me the importance of being kind, honest, and being on time! If you are decent and caring about others, that will allow for great things to happen. I have never been one to suck up to others, or pretend to be someone I am not, so all I can recommend to anyone is be yourself, be honest, and mostly, be caring. Because this world could use more of that. Oh, and be on time!