Little Guitar Works has designed a bass guitar that offers a more natural and efficient interaction with the human body. The ergonomic design increases the efficiency of the hands, wrists and arms, reducing the risk of developing repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. It also provides relief for those who have already suffered from such injuries. This patented design exhibits a radical departure from tradition guitar design by twisting the neck, bringing the strings toward a more natural hand position at each end of the instrument. Rotating each end of the instrument in the direction of the hand creates a neck plane that models the natural motion of the hand as it reaches outward. The fretboard forms a straight line at the location of each string, producing great tone, perfect tuning and intonation, and significantly improving the ease of performance.
It’s not hard to understand why bass players might suffer from playing related injuries. It’s the longest neck, the biggest strings, and the bass player never gets a break! While everybody else is trading solos and sipping drinks in between, guess what…the bass player and the drummer are still holding the groove. It turns out that all of this extremely dexterous finger movement over sustained periods of time, especially when performed with hyper flexed (bent) wrists, is a perfect recipe for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Bass players are particularly susceptible because most of the time both wrists are bent while playing. The fretting hand has to reach around a long neck, and the plucking hand (playing fingerstyle) has to reach across the body.
Attention to good technique and good habits can go a long way, but we are asking our bodies to adapt to the instrument. Wouldn’t it be easier to adapt the instrument to our bodies? Most people have never really considered this option, and that’s what sets us apart. Our solution is actually very simple: angle the neck at the nut downward to allow a more neutral wrist position for the fretting hand; angle the bridge upward to allow a more neutral wrist position for the plucking hand. That’s right, we’ve just created a twisted neck. To imagine how this actually works might seem like a bit of a brain tease, but it’s really pretty simple. The strings are still straight, they’re just not in the same plane anymore, so the neck and fretboard geometry are developed on a string-by-string basis. The neck (and frets) actually rotate around the string such that a straight line (minus some relief) exists at the contact point under each string.
How twisted is it?
The standard amount of twist is 15 degrees at the bridge, and 20 degrees at the nut, for a total rotation of 35 degrees. The degree of rotation at either end of the instrument can be custom made to the client’s specifications if necessary. In an ideal world, a client could furnish us with information such as arm length, hand and finger length, torso length, normal playing position, etc., and we could plug the numbers into an algorithm to determine the ideal neck for that person. We continue to pursue this R&D work, but in the meantime we have found the 35-degree rotation described above to provide the most benefit and accessibility to a broad range of people.
The Natural Twist neck is the most striking feature of the standard Torzal ergonomic design, but we also consider other important ergonomic features. Such features include how it balances on a strap, balance in your lap (sitting), overall weight, and how the shape and contours fit with your body. See our Instruments page for standard specifications, and the Order page for prices and options. We specialize in custom work; so don’t hesitate so send us your ideas!