The Blaster Beam is a stringed, electric musical instrument. The Beam consists of a long metal beam, strung with several tensed wires, and a set of guitar-type magnetic pickups to capture mechanical vibrations created by plucking or striking the strings. Beams are typically over 12 feet in length, producing a wide range of bass tones.
The Beam was originally designed by John Lazelle in the early 1970s, and first widely used by Francisco Lupica, who built several out of iron bar. Lupica releasing one album, titled “The Cosmic Beam Experience.”
The Beam was popularized by Craig Huxley. While Craig was most famous as a child for being and actor from his appearances in the Star Trek (Original Series) episode “Operation: Annihilate!” and “And The Children Shall Lead.” In his teens, Craig was also the leader of “The Craig Hundley Trio” playing piano.
After his teen years, Craig explored non-traditional instruments, and took up an instrument that would later become popularly known as the “Blaster Beam”. The Beam, achieved fame after being featured in the first two Star Trek motion pictures. In Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the Beam was used to create the theme sound for V’ger, and in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, it provided the theme sound for the Klingon Bird of Prey.
Craig refined the design of the Beam, using a large piece of rectangular aluminum tubing. Under his given name Craig R. Hundley, went on to apply for a patent of his design of the instrument on Aug 20, 1982. He was granted US Patent #4,462,295 on Jul 31, 1984. Craig’s patent described the Blaster Beam as follows:
A sound producing instrument is shown having a plurality of vibrating strings supported over an elongated aluminum sounding board. The strings are solid wires of brass, bronze or steel that are tensioned to produce a range of vibrations within the audible sound range. The strings may be manipulated along their lengths in various ways to control the mode of vibration of each of the respective strings. An electronic means such as a crystal or magnetic microphone is provided adjacent to the sounding board to pick up the vibrations resulting from activating the vibratory motion of the strings, and amplifying means are used to reproduce the sounds developed by the instrument. In one embodiment, the microphone may be caused to move during the pickup by a remote controller, so as to provide different sound effects. A special cylinder is provided for creating special sound effects when used to agitate the strings.