I feel that some additional explanation on the string lock is in order. First, the design goals for all hardware that I develop are (not necessarily in order of importance):
Not all goals can be met in every design of course, but they are at least goals.
In this design, the modularity is apparent. In addition to being able to use it with any number of strings, you may also choose whatever string spacing is suitable. Low weight comes from using extremely hard and durable 7075 aluminum. Ease of use is not optimal – I would prefer a solution that did not require a tool. Nevertheless, allen keys are part of most guitarists’ arsenal and widely accepted. This design is not the easiest to manufacture, but with the right machinery it can be done with no more manual operations than any at the face of it simpler designs. It consists of only one manufactured part. The rest are purchased off the shelf components. Aluminium is not the most durable material. For that reason, the mounting screw in this design has dual purposes. The head of the screw (which is made from hardened steel) acts as the resting surface for the string. The string is pressed towards it by a “dog-point” screw. Both of these parts are more durable than the aluminium itself, and what’s better is that they can be replaced if they ever get worn.
The picture above shows a metal screw, whereas in reality, the string lock would normally be mounted directly on the wood. It is possible, however, to create a metal plate specifically for the number of strings and mounting geometry required and then fasten the string locks to this plate and fasten the plate in the guitar.
Another image at an angle.
As for the last point – beauty is obviously in the eye of the beholder. But, I think it will look good in most designs. What do you think?
Back in March last year (!), Mats over at eLutherie.org raised the question of where to place the output jack in the EGS design. Since then, I have been so focused on hardware that I have not really thought about it. That is until I was contacted recently by someone who wanted to pioneer actually building the first instance of it. One of the questions that was raised immediately was the one with the output jack.
I played around with it a little bit, and have come up with two alternate placements that will both work well.
Placement 1 is at an angle in the cutaway for the tuners, similar to that of an Ibanez JEM. This could, however, theoretically obstruct the tuners. It could also interfere with placing the guitar in a stand or on a surface. But it gets the cable out of the player’s way.
The second position is at an angle at the back of the body, and I think this is my favorite.
It works well both seated and standing up, in the anticipated playing positions as described in an earlier post.
Seeing as I am sold out currently, I am planning on introducing a few design changes in the up-coming batch. Here’s one – a new string lock – that can still be changed if you’re quick to comment!
By varying the staggering, you achieve any string spacing desired. Use with either a zero-fret or a regular nut.
The method for locking the string is the same as the old design.
I have had the privilege of supplying a custom colored bridge to amazing luthier Michael Spalt. Michael himself is a bit pre-occupied with relocation plans and website overhaul, but until something more extensive can be arranged, here are a few pictures for your viewing pleasure!
Oh, and did I mention that the complete instrument weighs 1,9 kgs (4 lbs 4 oz)?
I have ideas. I have quite a few ideas, and one of the biggest challenges for me is determining what to do with my ideas. As Ludwig Wittgenstein put it:
The difference between a good and a poor architect is that the poor architect succumbs to every temptation and the good one resists it.
I started this blogging effort to document the work I was doing, and that work started out being very personal, a one-off effort to build the ultimate ergonomic guitar. It has snow-balled and diverted into becoming a small business developing and selling lightweight hardware for headless guitars. It is giving me a lot of pleasure, and seeing a finished instrument with my hardware is a great feeling.
My thoughts and design process are documented here, and I even publish the drawings for the bridges I develop. They are all licensed under a particular version of Creative Commons that means that you are free to use my ideas as long as you yourself publish and license them under the same conditions, and, most importantly to me, that you attribute the ideas to me. If you use anything that I came up with, you need to make known that the idea came from me and link to my site. This is a form of copyright (“copyleft”) that is just as legally binding as anything else, but is intended to minimize the effort of sharing. I recently found the first derivative works on eBay without this attribution, and it concerns me. Obviously something is amiss in my thought process.
Why patent? I can pursue a copyleft/copyright violation in pretty much the same way as a patent infringement. The cases are not quite an apples-to-apples comparison, but for this discussion, I don’t think it is a big difference (not being a patent expert.) The difference is that a patent becomes a commodity – a piece of intellectual property that can be traded and sold. If I come up with an idea that is novel, I can patent it and obtain a well documented basis for protection of the idea and whether I use it or not in my own work, it is something that I can trade.
But if it’s public, it’s not novel. It’s common knowledge and considered “prior art”. Quite a few of my ideas are in this limbo right at this moment.
Let me know your thoughts. My copyleft strategy is intended to build goodwill and my name. This in turn will lead to business, and even if someone copies my work, they have to give me free advertising as the original developer. The patent strategy, on the other hand, will allow me to get a finer granularity of who can use my ideas, with the same “advertising”, but possibly make money from it as well. I also get better protection, but at the expense of the “open source” type development that I started with.
I spent a few days last week enjoying the hospitality of Rick Toone. We have been collaborating and exchanging e-mails for a long time and with timings, schedules and planets all aligned, I travelled to Frenchtown, NJ to meet and work face to face. We had a great time! Thursday, we started by hanging out in Rick’s new home-based shop, and saw each other’s work for the first time. I got to see Dove and Cupid which are both fantastic instruments and work in progress. I had brought some representative samples of my own as well.
Friday, we hooked up with Rick’s friends John (middle) and Ken (right) for some laughs, lunch and prep for a meeting with Townsend Machine in Chesterfield, NJ.
In the image above, Bart and Bill appear with Rick and myself in front of one of Townsend’s sophisticated 5-axis CNC machines. Townsend have done some exceptional quality work for Rick and we got a factory tour that left us very impressed.
Saturday was spent in the shop brainstorming and prototyping some bridge concepts that we have been collaborating on in the Design and Technology Exchange over at elutherie.org.
Stay tuned to this space for more information to come about the concepts we played around with.
We also did some work on the so-called “Headless Wiggle“. This discussion was originally started by Mats Eriksson at elutherie.org. We did some tests and recorded some videos as well to illustrate the concepts, which will be posted on YouTube and on elutherie.org. Since the discussion there is so well written, I will not attempt to duplicate it here.
We worked a lot during these few days and both of our heads were filled to the brim with ideas at the end. Nevertheless, it was truly the luthier’s holiday I had hoped for. As an additional benefit, I got a peek into the life of Rick and got to meet his lovely wife Tricia, his pets Josie and Meow, his parents and a few of his closest friends. We have several micro-partnerships brewing.
While not lutherie-related, I will also offer just a few photos that I took an early jet-lagged morning. I had been out for a only a few minutes before I realized that telephone posts were the common denominator and they became the theme for the session.