Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Construction and repair of Classical Guitar and related instruments
Pkdawg
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Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by Pkdawg » Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:57 pm

There is always talk about the classical guitar not being an ideal shape for correct posture without supports for feet or body. Has any experimented with a guitar sized or shaped to accommodate proper posture without external supports? I’m not talking built in supports, but a shaped guitar that makes better sense in general.

I imagine the shape would change the sound, but who knows, maybe it would be for the better?!?

simonm
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Re: Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by simonm » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:14 pm

The "CARLEVARO" guitar was a different shape attempting to improve the sound rather than the placers posture. Never very popular although a small number of well known players did use it. Certainly never broke through into the popular and amateur market.

jebejava
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Re: Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by jebejava » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:57 pm

If I remember, there was a wedge-shaped guitar, wedge shaped in section. I forgot who the luthier is.

James Frieson
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Re: Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by James Frieson » Sun Mar 04, 2018 9:30 am

jebejava wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:57 pm
If I remember, there was a wedge-shaped guitar, wedge shaped in section. I forgot who the luthier is.
Linda Manzer brought it forth , in 1984 I believe , and may be credited . As to whether a wedge guitar has existed before hers , quite possible , I just do not know .
Roland Dyens had a wedge shaped guitar , not a Manzer . I worked on it . Crudely made , but it had incredible projection and power

Martin Woodhouse
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Re: Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by Martin Woodhouse » Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:55 pm

I was thinking about this idea (changing body shape to something which wouldn’t need a support) a couple of years ago, and came up with a design (on paper - haven’t built it) which would basically do it, but the problem is that different players are different shapes and sizes, and prefer to hold the guitar at different heights and angles, so there’s no fixed body shape which will be ideal for everyone. It would need to have some kind of adjustability built in (unless you tailor each guitar to fit a particular player), and then you might as well stick with a regular body shape and just make a built in adjustable leg rest, or maybe something attached with magnets, as some people do with armrests.

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Keith
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Re: Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by Keith » Sun Mar 04, 2018 4:15 pm

why not keep the guitar with its current shape and use a support? one could come up with a boat load of shapes, some might be ok and some might be dogs. problem number one to resolve. one would need to build a case for this odd shaped guitar--another problem to solve. why not build a standard shaped guitar with the idea of using a support. when building on could add the magnets per a prescribed spacing for a Barnett type of support. One could also or add a layer of golpeador material along the bottom side post building.
be true to the one you love but have many flings with different guitars

guitarras en la espiritu de la:
Marcelo Barbero
Jose Ramirez III

Pkdawg
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Re: Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by Pkdawg » Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:18 pm

Btw. I have a Barnett/ Sageworks coming in the mail. :)

Peskyendeavour
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Re: Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by Peskyendeavour » Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:33 pm

Could we ask a more basic question going back a couple of steps:

What is the existing shape of guitar based on, originally? who says the figure of 8 shape is best for sound?
(there are banjos, lutes, sitars and loads of other plucked string instruments that are not the same shape and sounds nice too...)

Assuming it is, or for specific sound qualities of the guitar, then would you say the cut-away, as a feature is an ergonomic modification? the cutaway I've been told affects the higher frequency sound reverb within the acoustic chamber - so how is that justified?

So when it comes to ergonomics, my body shape and size is different from yours, does that mean everyone will have need for a custom made guitar?

A practical and immediate example, just been trying out the Troster support which is too big for me, but just right for Scott who is a foot taller than me, so it seems that if the instrument stays the same shape and size we can do something (like supports) to suit different body shape and size people, without the need to modify the instrument.

So I guess the shape and size of the instrument and perhaps luthiers will know more, the bracing and sound board details etc etc have far more to do with sound production, and less concerned with the other factors on ergonomics which can be tweaked as external?

I do wonder how the size of the body change the guitar sound, as there are terzes or other non-standard sizes, out there, Would reducing the body width/length make it necessary to reduce the body depth as well? Is it a proportional thing? What part of the sound spectrum does each aspect alter? Are there essays out there to tell us?

Also, do we have any recordings of these wedge-shaped guitars? Does it sound remarkably different to "normal" guitars?

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Re: Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by Martin Woodhouse » Mon Mar 05, 2018 10:07 am

The question of what shape would be best for sound is practically unanswerable, because there is no absolute best sound for a guitar: different players like different sounds for different music and different playing situations. The standard classical guitar body shape is the one which most easily gives you something which sounds the way people expect a classical guitar to sound, but whether that is the best possible sound is a matter of taste. Other shapes can undoubtedly make a very nice and musical sounding guitar, which might be better for some people some of the time… and worse for other people. To get any kind of meaningful answers would take quite a large research project (probably several people working full time on it for several years) and I doubt that anyone would want to fund that: even if you ended up with something “better", most people won’t want to buy it because it won’t be traditional enough for the generally conservative CG market.

Ergonomically, it would be possible to have a body shape which wouldn’t need a support, and which would be OK for most people, but it would need some adjustability to be right for everyone.

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Trevor Gore
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Re: Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by Trevor Gore » Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:37 pm

Pkdawg wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:57 pm
There is always talk about the classical guitar not being an ideal shape for correct posture without supports for feet or body. Has any experimented with a guitar sized or shaped to accommodate proper posture without external supports?
What is "correct" or "proper" posture? (Serious question).
Trevor Gore: Classical Guitar Design and Build

Pkdawg
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Re: Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by Pkdawg » Mon Mar 05, 2018 4:18 pm

Trevor Gore wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:37 pm
What is "correct" or "proper" posture? (Serious question).

Well, as the OP I just mean any posture that would take the debate out of what posture would be best for most people without discomfort or supports. This topic was never meant to be taken seriously and just a food for though discussion. Overall it would be interesting to have a guitar that takes the discomfort factor out while still maintaining the character of what we all love about the guitar.

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Re: Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by Alan Carruth » Mon Mar 05, 2018 7:17 pm

From what I've been able to find out, the 'normal' guitar shape does indeed affect the tone. It gets pretty complicated, as does everything having to do with the guitar. Basically, when you have a figure-8 shape with a reasonably pronounced waist that is higher than the mid point of the length, and there's a sound hole a little above the waist, AND the top, in particular, vibrates, you can get a complex resonance couple that causes at least one of the 'air' modes to 'split' into two modes at different frequencies, one of which can put out significant sound from the hole. If any of the conditions is relaxed the resulting single mode does not put out much sound: 'Dreadnought' shaped guitars, for example, don't usually show this split, and it's part of the 'characteristic' timbre of the breed.

What it comes down to, then, is that, while citterns and so on do sound OK, they don't sound like a guitar. If you want something that does, you have to make a guitar. There seems to be a reason why we've been making them that way for so long.

It seems to me that we can learn from the violin players in this. It's a rare violinist indeed who does not use a chin rest and shoulder support. There are lots of different shapes of chin rests, and no matter which one I put on a fiddle that I make it's the wrong one. Shoulder supports come with several adjustments for the height and angle, and again, you see all of the different settings being used. I strongly suspect that any 'ergonomic' shape you came up with would be a poor fit for some large part of the guitar community. It would be difficult to change it, and it would take some time to learn to get a 'guitar-like' sound from it.

The 'wedge' guitar body shape, shallower on the bass side and deeper on the treble, was patented back in 1969, iirc, by a fellow named Smith. Linda Manzer had not heard of it when she devised the shape for the 'Pikasso' guitar that she built for Pat Metheny. It is such a beast that she had to do something to make it possible to play it, and she came up with the wedge independently. At some point she mentioned it to another maker, who forgot the conversation. Some time later he, too, 'invented' it, and claimed priority. It took some time for Linda to clarify the situation, as she understood it, and she promoted the idea of the 'Manzer Wedge' to establish her claim, although she never asked for royalties so far as I know. A few years ago a student of mine came across the original patent. Linda and I have exchanged a copy of the patent and (cordial) e-mails. There is no doubt but that she came up with the idea independently, and deserves credit for that. The fact that it was patented indicates that it was one of those things that was 'in the air', and somebody else would have come up with it if she had not. At least it has stayed discovered since then.

I have often wondered what a cutaway does to the sound, but it's hard to think about how you would figure it out. There are 'minimal' cutaways out there, using a 'bevel' shape that only removes wood from the side and top, with very little change in the air volume or distribution of the box. This is often all the cutaway a Classical guitarist would need, if they need any at all. Steel string players who use 'thumb over' technique find it more limiting.

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Trevor Gore
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Re: Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by Trevor Gore » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:30 am

Pkdawg wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 4:18 pm
Trevor Gore wrote:
Mon Mar 05, 2018 12:37 pm
What is "correct" or "proper" posture? (Serious question).

Well, as the OP I just mean any posture that would take the debate out of what posture would be best for most people without discomfort or supports. This topic was never meant to be taken seriously and just a food for though discussion. Overall it would be interesting to have a guitar that takes the discomfort factor out while still maintaining the character of what we all love about the guitar.
Just about any posture that is held for an extensive period of time, like during guitar practice, will lead to discomfort and ultimately some sort of injury if persisted with for too long; a period which seems to get shorter as you get older!

The tiring positions are those that involve a lot of asymmetry and excessive extensions. So, for example, playing with crossed legs, a tilted pelvis, or the fingering hand well extended from the body are all going to be less comfortable and more likely to induce injury than more symmetric positions involving less extension. The detachable guitar rests go a long way to promoting lower body symmetry and reducing excessive extensions, whilst changing a guitar's body shape to achieve the same outcome will likely result in too many other compromises (upsetting the sound, weird look, inability to find a case, etc.)

However, a fair amount can be done to help with upper body positions. Body wedges to relieve plucking arm extension, armrests to relieve forearm compression, high waists to bring the neck in closer for the fretting hand, adjustable neck angles so a player doesn't always have to play at concert action, adjustable truss rods to keep the neck relief right for better playability (so closer string spacing and narrower necks can be used) so easing the load on the fretting hand, cutaways for better high fret access... and the list goes on. Guitar playing need not be painful and shouldn't be.

Here's a small body, cutaway, tilt-neck guitar with adjustable truss rod and removable arm rest (and a few other things). Sounds just like a classical guitar!

DSCF9186s.jpg
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Trevor Gore: Classical Guitar Design and Build

printer2
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Re: Guitar shape for better ergonomics?

Post by printer2 » Tue Mar 06, 2018 1:52 am

Take a page out of Leo's book and make it shaped like a Strat. And while we're at it put a strap on it and get rid of the ***** faces, leave that to the heavy metal kids.
Fred

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