An Interview with the Ryan Norbauer

Had the pleasure of following @norbauer around the past couple months and getting to know him better. He’s one of my closest friends and mentors in the keyboard community and hope you all enjoy a little chat we had.


Love this. If you two started a keyboard podcast, I would be a monthly patron in a heartbeat!


Thanks, @TaehaTypes. You somehow managed to make me seem much more coherent than I would have imagined. The talents of a good editor, I think. :slight_smile:

Ha. I’d be down. Though for my part I’d probably end up spending as much of it talking about Stoic philosophy, coffee brewing methods, Imagineering, or other random interests of my rather than, say, gasket mounting approaches.


I, for one, would be totally down to listen to that. Sometimes a discussion too tightly focused lacks depth. IMHO one of the best things about this interview is that most of it is about things peripheral (ha) to keyboards, with only the briefest of edits showing Ryan’s keyboards. Moar like this, I say!


Thank you very much for this very nice interview!

I am totally in line with @norbauer view of what a luxury item is, an (expensive) object that you like and keep your whole life and not something to show just to brag.

Funny he mentioned Louis Vuiton, most of their (very well made) bags have their branding written all over them, not particularly nice looking but a lot of people buy these just to show off :stuck_out_tongue:


Those are all interesting topics not-unrelated to influences in the designs of our hobby. I’d also love to listen to that podcast.

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In the spirit of the video where @norbauer aims not at consumption but rather for connection, I think a stream would be more appropriate than a podcast, or at least a rotating round table discussion where many voices are heard.

I can’t think of very many luxury items where the branding is so discreet as it is with a Norbauer case. If you don’t know what you’re looking at, you’ll not figure it out from the item itself. You’ll only know that the object itself is a finely made and attractive keyboard. It’s a object that inspires conversation, mostly along the lines of “Holy Hell, where do you get something like that?”

This is also true for most of the custom keyboards I’ve ever seen, but it’s worth reflecting upon why that is. The big brands spend big money in advertising. With the stuff we all like to mess around with, you really need to invest time and mental energy to know what you’re looking at.

I guess my question is, what would it require for an average person with fine taste and an ability to spend to even be aware that something like a Norbauer case is available? How would one break through the same few hobbyists who buy all the things just to add to their exquisite pile? Because this is the market as it exists now.

I kind of wonder if a storefront that dealt with assembling these things could exist. I can buy a suit off the rack, or I could get a much better suit from a tailor—I probably would not have the talent, education, or energy to sew together one myself.

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This is the most recent thread with @norbauer name attached,

Will there be other finish options other than aerospace for the heavy grail?

Agree that the general lack of branding is due to the small visibility of this very niche market.
We’ll see how this will evolve in the next few years :wink:

Of course. :slight_smile:

Great interview Ryan,

Watched this whole thing plus the few hours you and TTypes spent taking apart and reassembling the R2 on stream. Can’t get enough of that esoteric keyboard nerding out. :slight_smile:

Just got my norbaforce mark II in the mail and it’s just gorgeous … except for having received an HHKB Hybrid Type-S in between having ordered the MKII now I want a PFU realforce (45g silenced) instead of the R2 (55g) I’ve got in there now… looks like I’ll be upgrading yet again :slight_smile:

Since someone else asked about the heavy grail I figured I’d throw a question in too … will it still work with the hybrid / wireless models? The HHKB Hybrid Type S is hands down the best thing I’ve ever typed on and I’m 1000% getting a grail to wrap it in as soon as you announce it.

:heart::heart::heart: keep up the good work … it’s def appreciated by all of us.

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Thank you so much, @Georen, for the very generous words. :blush:

I’m sorry to say that I’m not in a position to support the bluetooth models, only the “classic” (USB) versions of the Pro 3 line. It was something of a monumental effort in itself just to figure out how to support both the Pro 2 and Pro 3. Dealing with the battery pack and potential radio interference issues of the Hybrid models on top of everything else just seemed too problematic.

The project has already taken multiple years and at some point I have to actually start making the things instead of designing, refining, and re-designing. :slight_smile: Current estimate to GB is about 6-8 weeks, btw. I’m waiting on the injection mold to be complete so I can post some video typing tests with the first sample parts.


Totally makes sense…

I was worried that would be the case which is why I asked.

Either way I’m sure it’ll be beautiful, now I just have to see if I can spring for a non wireless version :slight_smile: :heart::heart:

Count me in too!
P.S. Bought a Heavy 6 last week just arrived in London.
Thank you!

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