My friend Robert Irizarry of buildingtheergonomicguitar.com wandered by — metaphorically — to prod me into revealing more about the Orchid design:
"More importantly, I'm delighted to see the new design! Very cool. I love the organic flow of it - I can't wait to see the end product! I was curious if you could elaborate a bit on some of the design elements. In particular, I'm curious about the large upper horn and its function in the design..."
Then Goran chimed in:
"I have a confession to make: I like orchid design more and more."
So I guess it's time I did some explaining.
Since a picture is worth 1,000 words, I decided to spare you the agony and just create a composite scale image illustrating relevant concepts much more eloquently than my blathering. Click to grow. I would add a few points of elaboration:
1. Controls — Why are instrument controls usually located below the strings? My arm swings in a pendulum from the elbow (I don't know about yours) forming an arc that naturally stops above the strings, where Orchid's controls will be located. Especially on a guitar, controls below the strings are just asking to get whacked with the strumming hand. Most performing pros do volume swells with a footpedal, so that is no longer a valid argument. Heck, with this new location, a player could use the fretting hand to make control adjustments. Expect to see more of this feature from me...
EDITOR'S NOTE: ...and probably others, now that the cat's out of the bag.
2. Balance point — Extending the upper lobe toward the headstock shifts the instrument's center of gravity. It simply can't point at the floor anymore. An added benefit is the player becomes more centered on the instrument: effectively re-positioning the nut closer to the player's body. Now the fretting hand requires several inches less reach to play in first position, reducing shoulder/wrist strain for the fretting arm.
3. Leg — From a standing position, sit...and the bass maintains alignment with the player's body. The player's thigh holds the weight, instead of the shoulder strap. The lower cutaway makes this possible. Nice upper fret access, too.
4. Reduced weight & better ergonomics — The new center of gravity does not depend on body mass to balance the instrument. Instead, I can eliminate or redistribute body mass as shown by the drawing, including chambering the body (semi-hollow). What is not shown is the sculptural quality the body will have. As is typical in my designs, the instrument will be very three-dimensional, conforming to the shape of the player's torso: deep cut in the upper instrument body mimics the human ribcage and eliminates pressure points. The sensation is almost of "wearing" the bass as it wraps around you.