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Embracing Ergonomics

Embracing Ergonomics

When Alistair started building guitars, he began by making a mold of his own Hohner acoustic guitar. It had everything you’d expect from an acoustic; a traditional center soundhole and heel design, along with the regular shape. 

He quickly realized that carbon fiber would allow him to create designs wholly different from traditional wood guitars, especially when it came to the sound box itself. He tried out new ideas to change the overall shape of the guitar body, adding contours and more curves to the design. One thing you will notice when you pick up an Emerald is just how good it feels, and its level of comfort.

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The X20 has some obvious changes from the normal design of the acoustic guitar, the main difference being the soundhole. The traditional center soundhole has long been the standard for flat-top acoustic guitars. Alistair discarded the idea that it had to be in such a structurally compromising position on the soundboard and instead experimented with moving it elsewhere. 

The X20 soundhole position – straddling the upper bass bout of the body – has worked so well that we used it in all of the models. It gives a unique playing experience, immersing the player in the sound just as much as the listener. 

This also frees up the top of the guitar, allowing us to build a lighter, more resonant soundboard, also giving it more area to freely move and vibrate. 

From start to finish, Alistair designs acoustic instruments in what is a very non-traditional way. Instead of starting with flat pieces of wood and piecing them together, he begins with a block of foam from which he carves out the rough shape. This allows him to test how the form feels in his hands, how the contours work, how it might sit on the lap. 

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Alistair has also redeveloped the area where the guitar rests on the lap, including an angled thigh cut that helps the guitar to sit more naturally and blend better with the player’s form. 

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Adding beveled edges to the body also makes the guitar more comfortable. The belly curve at the back helps the guitar sit snugly without any straight edges cutting into the player’s body. The same goes for the beveled armrest on the front top of the body. The standard form for most acoustic guitars can lead to discomfort and even some loss of circulation when playing, especially on bigger models such as dreadnoughts and jumbo body sizes. With the built-in curves on our models, the form effortlessly conforms to the player’s body whether sitting or standing. 

With our bigger bodied models such as the Jumbo X30 acoustic range and the Balor acoustic bass range, these contours and beveled edges are more pronounced as they are sized up for the larger body, compared to the more subtle curves found on compact body designs such as the X7 and Slimline models. This really adds to the ergonomic experience when playing the bigger models. 

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What’s more, the addition of the heelless neck design – impossible on most traditional wooden guitars – means that the player has unrivaled access to all the frets, right up the fingerboard. 

The ability to develop new and innovative designs that add to the playing experience is something of which Emerald is immensely proud and that we are always delighted to deliver to our customers. 

Emerald is proud to develop new and innovative designs that add to the playing experience and provide endless hours of effortlessly comfortable playing.

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