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Rick Toone | Luthier
A. Advantage Neck Profile™
DRAWING: Advantage Neck Profile. Click to enlarge.
Blending the ergonomic advantages of the Trapezoid Neck Profile™ and the Intersecting Plane Neck Profile™ with the familiarity of a conventional rounded neck profile, we discover the Advantage Neck Profile™
A distinct and independent invention, the Advantage Neck Profile™ is most useful for players who tend to leverage or frequently shift grip off the centerline of a neck, toward the upper or lower third.
PHOTO: S2 Vintage Semi-Hollowbody guitar in action.
B. Trapezoid Neck Profile™
DRAWING: Trapezoid Neck Profile™. Click to enlarge.
Main purpose of any neck profile is to provide support for your thumb. When you play, you balance your thumb against the back of the neck, giving leverage to your fingers as they fret the strings.
Trapezoidal Neck Profile™ (US D630,676) is divided into distinct plane surfaces, which provide broad support areas for your thumb. In contrast to a conventional rounded profile, your thumb is highly stable, and leverage improved.
You can prove this to yourself using ordinary objects around you.
Notice how pushing your thumb against a curved surface feels inherently unstable. Muscles of your thumb, forearm, and upper arm are engaged. Your hand constantly adjusts, attempting to maintain balance, because the contact area is very small.
Repeating the experiment by pushing against a flat plane surface demonstrates your thumb feels much more stable, by comparison. Contact area is enlarged, and additional surface engaged to support your thumb, giving you greater control.
Note how your hand relaxes.
TNP™ relieves tension in your muscles and tendons. Reducing stress can help prevent or heal repetitive stress injury (RSI). When you are relaxed, your movements become faster, more fluid, and precise.
PHOTOS: Illustrate how the TNP™ interacts with the hand. Orchid 4-string bass serves as our model.
PHOTO: Classical grip position. Thumb balanced and stable against P1 surface.
PHOTO: Pinch grip position. P2 surfaces support both the thumb and the index finger, including joint. Wrist is aligned, relaxed. Hand is not in contact with P1 surface.
PHOTO: Palm grip or thumb-over position. P1 surface falls entirely within the fleshy web in the palm of the hand, between index finger and thumb. Corners where P1 and P2 intersect are never in contact with bone. A constant width P1 surface along the length of the neck will maintain this ergonomic comfort.
C. Intersecting Plane Neck Profile™
DRAWING: Intersecting Plane Neck Profile™. Click to enlarge.
Despite geometric planar similarities, Intersecting Plane Neck Profile™ (US D635,182) will feel entirely different to your hand than the Trapezoid Neck Profile™.
Which shape is better for you?
TNP™ is best characterized as neutral. If you use a variety of grips: classical, pinch, palm, thumb-over, then TNP™ is your baseline. In contrast, IPNP™ is designed for musicians with specific hand shapes or leverage needs. The profile can help you compensate for your style of play.
Intersecting Plane Neck Profile™ can be oriented with P1 surface upward (IPNP-UP) or with the P1 surface downward (IPNP-DOWN). See drawing, above.
IPNP-UP — Will greatly reduce the perceived bulk or thickness of the neck to your fretting hand. Excels for blues based music or string bends. Think Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page.
• Thumb-over, palm, or pinch grip styles (blues, rock)
• Horizontal neck position (Tele, Les Paul)
• Low-slung standing position (long strap)
• Seated playing position with most factory guitars
IPNP-DOWN — Preferred for classical grip. Will maximize your finger leverage and increase your playing speed. Think Tosin Abasi or Allan Holdsworth.
• Musicians with double-jointed thumb
• Classical or pinch grip styles (jazz, metal, progressive, pop)
• Up-angled neck position (Strat, acoustic, archtop)
• Higher torso standing position (shorter strap)
• Standing playing position
In the photo sequence below, we are evaluating how IPNP™ contacts the human hand. Note how the P2 surfaces interact with your index finger and thumb joints. Pressure against those joints is substantially reduced, in comparison to conventional rounded neck profiles. The neck feels contoured to your hand.
Most importantly, plane surfaces provide improved leverage, reducing the effort required to fret notes.
PHOTOS: Classical grip position. IPNP-UP neck profile on 6-string T2 "Buckskin" guitar. Maximum fretting leverage will be applied to treble strings. IPNP-UP is highly comfortable on guitars typically played with neck closer to horizontal, in relation to the ground: Tele, Les Paul, Strat, etc.
PHOTO: Same guitar. Pinch grip. Note how the joint at the base of the index finger lies closer to the center of the neck, extending finger reach across the fretboard. IPNP-UP.
PHOTO: Thumb-over grip. Note how the IPNP-UP shape falls away from the thumb joint, and thumb reach is extended for fretting bass strings. The joints of both the index finger and thumb "float" with reduced pressure against the P2 surfaces. Feels more comfortable than a conventional rounded profile, where there is constant contact between bone and neck wood, and a sense of the rounded neck contour "interfering" with the hand.
PHOTO: Sketch 7-string headless extended range guitar built by luthier Rick Toone for Tosin Abasi (Animals As Leaders). Because Tosin plays almost exclusively with classical grip, width of P1 surface is extended and P2 surfaces are reduced, providing additional contact area for his thumb. IPNP-DOWN.
PHOTO: Note Tosin's double-jointed thumb. His neck angle in relation to the ground is about 45 degrees, very comfortable for IPNP-DOWN. Neck angle remains constant, whether standing (photo above) or seated (video below).
I'm writing just to give a little feedback on the neck profile. I feel that it's positively effected my fretting hand and actually allows me to play cleaner. In a way, i feel like the profile is actually correcting playing. Very cool stuff!
I'm very happy that i've come to play on an instrument that actually makes me get better.
thanks for everything,
VIDEO: Tosin Abasi (Animals As Leaders) explores Sketch 7-string experimental prototype. Intersecting Plane Neck Profile™ comfortably fits his hand.