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Are Ergonomic Guitars the Answer?

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(@fever-and-hum)
Eminent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 26
Topic starter  

Inspired by a number of topics related to the need for ergonomics in our lives...
ie. http://forums.guitarnoise.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=37891
I am surprised, and very saddened (on a site as comprehensive as GN) that a topic of such importance has not been accorded Sticky Status by the powers that be. It's a topic that unfortunately is not going away any time soon... (come on, Team)

What does everyone think of the Burrell guitar:
http://burrellguitars.com/store/WsPages.asp?ID=6

Observations
I can understand that the parabolic shape of the guitar body is definitely ergonomic and would be far more comfortable than resting your elbow on the bout of the guitar, and placing strain on the shoulder by reaching over the guitar.

All things being equal, I cannot understand how they can string a guitar on a twisted neck, and not have intonation or action problems. I understand that the strings on this twisted neck do not share the same plane so there must be individual height adjustments at the saddle or nut etc. but this assumes no changes to the guitar caused by environmental conditions.

( Also, what is lacking from their site is sound bytes of how these guitars actually sound.)

I can buy a slim profile acoustic Martin or Larrivee for as much money, which would (almost) achieve the same end: ergonomic comfort.

You Tube has some videos of similar ergonomic guitars, which you can search if interested. It would be excellent if ergonomic guitars were more widely available so we could all try them out before shelling out over a grand!

We also have to remind ourselves that it would be excellent if we didn't sit in front of computers all day, (then, all night reading guitar forums). Sitting all the time in discomfort...

Fever........................................(random thoughts).........................................................>and Hum


   
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(@anonymous)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 8184
 

i wouldn't mind having a guitar without a sharp edge under my right arm, but i don't look at the actual fretboard much. i don't really like the salvador dali-esque shape, and i also wonder if the shape affects acoustics, and obviously you'd have to have specially made lefty guitars.
i do wish they made more guitars without the sharp edge. i've tried ovations, but they just slip all over the place and i don't want a plastic guitar.


   
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(@twistedlefty)
Famed Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 4113
 

I'm big enough now that i can use any guitar without the mentioned imagined problems.
i too worry more about acoustics more than comfort.
i doubt that the guitars shape caused the problems mentioned in the first link. many manufacturers make smaller scale models to fit smaller humanoids.

#4491....


   
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(@mmoncur)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 168
 

Let me talk about computer keyboards for a minute.

I've been working with computers for 20 years or so, and in that time I've written 20 books and countless web pages. I've dealt with RSI ranging from mild to horrible and I've tried every "ergonomic" keyboard ever made.

What do I use now? A standard Mac keyboard a few years old. I keep my RSI at bay with exercises. No keyboard design has ever done anything but made my hands hurt in a different way. And they all had the same thing in common - I had to "re-learn" to type with them, and after I did, I was locked in because it was hard to type with a regular keyboard.

So I'd have to think really careful about buying a $2000 ergonomic guitar - the $60 ergonomic keyboards were bad enough.

Besides, it's not as if ergonomics haven't already been considered in the design of guitars - a Stratocaster for example has a double cutaway, contoured edges, and a radiused neck that have all evolved due to guitarists' need for a comfortable instrument. Acoustic dreadnaughts may sacrifice a bit of comfort for sound, but there are smaller guitars and thinner ones for those who need them.

Anyway, ergonomics are very personal. I can't imagine a more comfortable guitar for me than my Gretsch hollowbody, but lots of other people would rather play a bigger or smaller guitar.

Also, I don't like to be mean, so I'll just say I'm, er, not particularly fond of the design of those Burrell guitars.


   
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(@alouden)
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 59
 

I'm curious, have you ever played one.

I happen to live in the same town as Leo Burrell and have come to know him well. I have played his guitars and the comfort level is noticeable. The way the guitar lays against your body is quite different than a guitar with a flat back, and the curved neck feels good as well.

The only quibble I have with them (and I have expressed this to Leo) is the finesse work leaves a bit to be desired. ie., fret edges a little sharp, finish work not quite what it could be.

If these guitars were ever adopted by a "major" manufacturer with strict QA processes and aggressive marketing I believe they would acquire quite a following.


   
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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

My goodness, those are homely guitars!

The Burrell site doesn't explain how they're more ergonomically designed in a way that would reduce CTS or RSI injuries. It's not apparent from looking at them. I'd have to see evidence that they really work better to believe it.

As for the topic title, I doubt that "ergonomic guitars [are] the answer." I think poor playing techniques account for most problems. But certainly some guitars are better balanced and shaped for comfortable playing than others. Considerations of acoustics and aesthetics (as well as tradition) are very important, and will always outweigh ergonomics for many players.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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(@ricochet)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 7833
 

Ah! Well, it'd certainly fit more ergonomically over my belly! :lol:

"A cheerful heart is good medicine."


   
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(@twistedlefty)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 4113
 

:shock:

#4491....


   
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(@kent_eh)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 1882
 

Looks like Salvador Dali's guitar.

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep


   
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(@alouden)
Trusted Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 59
 

Come on down...Leo is usually always in.


   
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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

Go to the Burell main page and read the first paragraph. I didn't find that story terribly inspiring.

-=tension & release=-


   
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(@mmoncur)
Estimable Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 168
 

You're right, that's about the least inspiring origin story I've ever read. It's actually a good lesson for people like me who obsess about having just the right gear... if he'd spent those 50 years practicing instead of dreaming of a more ergonomic guitar, who knows what he would have accomplished.

And the side view makes me realize how truly "different" these guitars are... It makes me almost want to buy one just to freak people out.

I do like the headstock design, though.


   
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(@misanthrope)
Noble Member
Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2261
 

I am surprised, and very saddened (on a site as comprehensive as GN) that a topic of such importance has not been accorded Sticky Status by the powers that be.
I'm saddened when people expect their particular interest to be everyone else's number one priority, let alone when they feel moral outrage when it isn't. Ergonomics are all well and good, but the point Burrell appears to miss (as gnease points out), is that ergonomic guitars are often just an alternative to learning safe posture.

Patient: Doctor, doctor, it hurts when I do this...
Doctor: Then don't do that.

ChordsAndScales.co.uk - Guitar Chord/Scale Finder/Viewer


   
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(@rahul)
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Joined: 18 years ago
Posts: 2736
 

The answer is to play a harp guitar which Pet Methany does.


   
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(@gnease)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5038
 

I like artistic and alternative designs; and these guitars have some appeal in those dimensions. But designing effective ergonomics is a little more difficult than using "common sense." Some knowledge in orthopedics would seem a fundamental expertise upon which to build an effective, widely applicable ergo design. Maybe Burrell has this or uses a consultant. I didn't dig for this info. Certainly these designs would help some players; but others could find they create a whole different set of physical issues. Only sizable numbers can tell. There also seems to be some focus on some characteristics that are not formally or anecdotally described as widespread guitaring problems ... and these are even solved in other, less expensive guitars, intentionally or not. Sharp edges under the arm and tuning machines rotating in opposite directions are not issues I hear guitar players complaining about very often -- at least not serious players, amateur or pro. So these seem secondary or tertiary to serious repetitive stress disorders and the like, unless of course they are instigators -- not sure about that. Burrell's curved and twisted designs may appeal to a person who would otherwise not give guitar playing a go. However, the price barrier is pretty high for young beginners.

YMMV

-=tension & release=-


   
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