Phil’s ergonomic guitar is now completed: the second ergo electric that I’ve built. The shape is based on the Steve Klein design, but when you look at his guitars (and most other ergos) you’ll notice that they are headless. Obviously Klein had his reasons for going down the headless route, but I can’t see the need for this. The head and tuners do add some weight to the instrument but it’s counterbalanced by leaving the body solid in the area behind the bridge. Take a look at the Klein below and you’ll see what I mean.
I can see more advantages of using a head compared to a headless design. Using a head you get a considerably wider choice of hardware. Phil suffers with back pain and when discussing the design of his guitar, it was clear that he would benefit from the neck leaning backwards in relationship to the body. Using this type of badass bridge you can have the strings about 20mm above the body’s surface which in turn kicks the neck backwards.
A headless design also limits your choice of strings to double-ball end strings which are a bit pricier and obviously not offered by as many string manufacturers.
I also feel that the head of a guitar (acoustic, classical, eclectic whatever) contributes to the sustain of the instrument.
There are a few subtle changes that this ergonomic guitar has over its 7 string predecessor; the body is more heavily contoured to improve comfort further. I’ve had a few enquiries about chambered and semi-acoustic bodied ergos, but if the upper portion of the body is hollow, you are drastically limiting how much you can contour it before breaking through into the hollow sections which compromise the ergonomic rationale. Also, being hollow, the body becomes lighter and I’m not 100% sure if this would upset the balance. I’ve also moved the jack-socket on to the front of the body from the edge. This guitar is primarily used sitting down, if the jack plug sticks out of a side mounted socket you limit the playing positions straight away.
I’ve kept to the straight through neck design, I’m convinced that this construction enhances the tone and sustain of the instrument (so are Alembic!).
I’ve never been impressed with passive tone controls on electric guitars so on this guitar we have three different types of pick-up each wired to a DPDT (centre off switch). The switches allow each pick-up to be turned on or off, the humbuckers can be used either in series or parallel mode and the single coil (middle) pick-up can be switched in or out of phase with the other two: this set-up gives 19 different combinations and hence a great range of tones.
The crowning glory is the spalted maple top, which the oil finish really brings to life. If play your electric guitar sitting down, you really need to try one of these odd looking guitar- you’ll be sold!
Labels: ergonomic electric guitar, Luthier