I’ve always loved instruments that break the mold a little – fanned frets, offset soundholes, headless designs etc. The Torzal Twist ergomomic neck is another to add to that list and I’m embarrassed to say although this design has been around for almost 20 years I’ve never really been aware of it. But it’s the form that grabs me, not the function (although that’s pretty cool too). There’s something about design changes like this that turn instruments into art. So while the RockArt series of posts will generally focus on things like photos, logos and artwork, a guitar like this truly belongs as well.
The way the neck effectively rotates around the strings is sculpture-like, and the curves on the Padilla bass in particular are a thing of beauty! Jerome Little at Little Guitar Works in Austin, Texas is the brains behind the idea and he has applied it to many instruments. The bass he created with renowned bass player Xavier Padilla is a beautiful piece of collaboration.
But what of the Torzal Twist neck concept? Well, Little’s website FAQ should be your first port of call, but the guts of it is that the strings become more aligned to the natural position of the fingers and hand at each end of the fretboard. That ends up being about 35 degrees of twist along the length of it! And it’s not just a twist in the neck, the bridge is effectively rotated too by building an angle into the body of the bass that helps get the picking hand into a more ergonomic position. Of course the neck is just one component of creating ergonomically functional instruments. On that front you should also check out the excellent Build The Ergonomic Guitar blog as well.
Finally, here’s a great photo gallery video that tracks the creation of the Padilla/Torzal ergonomic bass.
RockArt is a series of posts that looks at the non-musical side of things: videos, photos, logos and artwork. You can find more here.