Project Guitar #1 – Ergonomic Guitar

Colin Kaminski Klein Electric Guitar

Here is the Project Guitar topic thread from earlier today announcing my guitar project idea:

In terms of designs, I have an interest in both ergonomic guitars and headless guitars. I’ve done a lot of research and the Klein Electric is one of the more ergonomic designs out there. Here is an example of Colin Kaminski playing the Klein he built while working for Steve Klein (the image is from Colin Kaminski’s site) who was the original owner and designer of the Klein Electric. The body balances well both standing and sitting. It is particularly suited for playing in a sitting position because the neck naturally falls at an angle. It also provides substantial support for the right arm. Unfortunately, an original is largely out of my reach for two reasons. First, its builder has been incapable of keeping up with orders. There are people now waiting two or more years according to a number of posters to the Klein Electric Guitars Group over at Second, even used ones are fetching $5000. That’s about $4999 more than I currently have. Therefore, this brings me to my first project attempt. I’ve decided to attempt to recreate one. The primary inspiration for this goes to Jason Fink who showed it was possible. More recently, Francis Lannie began a similar project and has shown good progress.

The following are my major considerations for the direction of the project:

1. Simplicity – I’m a big believer in “form follows function”. Some would say I’d have to be since the Klein shape is one of those love it or hate it designs. I also have little in the way of woodworking skills so the KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle is in effect.
2. Low cost – I have Fender Lace pickups already lying around from a long defunct Fender Strat Plus. I will also “borrow” the Steinberger licensed bridge from my Hohner headless.
3. Ergonomics – Apart from the shape itself, I’m also looking to keep weight down. To help meet this goal, I decided on a 1.5″ thick alder body blank. I would have gone thinner – I love the Black Machine super thin guitars – but I’m limited by the depth of the Steinberger licensed bridge.

As far as specifics, I’ve decided to go with the following:

1. Alder body 1.5″ thick
2. Bolt on neck – I’m not building the neck.
3. Fender Lace pickups in neck and bridge position
4. Control layout – Single volume, single tone and 3-position switch with a guitar face mounted output jack.
5. Wipe on finish – I’m considering tinted Danish oil or just black shellac like Myka’s beautiful work as seen here: I’m leaning toward black. I love black. Not only does it go with my minimalist approach, it also goes with my wardrobe.
6. Headless design – I’ll use a Kahler behind-the-nut locking clamp (rather than the standard headpiece seen on Steinberger designs) on a regular neck converted to headless duty.

For Mickguard’s sake, I haven’t ruled out a pickguard BUT I haven’t come up with a shape I like. The standard Klein pickguard doesn’t work for me. If I’m going to commit to a pickguard, then the knobs, pickups and output jack (conventional type not a strat type) should all mount to the pickguard. The standard Klein layout is a combination (I would say mish mash) of both pickguard and rear routed forms. It has to be one or the other. I welcome all comments and suggestions. I’m particularly curious about your thoughts on control layout and appropriate pickguard designs/layouts. Wish me luck…

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4 Responses to “Project Guitar #1 – Ergonomic Guitar”

  1. When I worked for steve Klein we built a prototype guitar that Steve Miller purchased. It was similiar to the Klein Bass and was more ergonomic standing than the klein electric. The main design feature was a upper horn that wrapped back about 2.5″ from the plane of the body. This made the instrument feel like it was hugging you.

    If you look at my website linked above it showes a picture of the klein bass. – Colin Kaminski

  2. Colin – I was recently thinking about the Klein bass shape as well and thought it had some things to offer in a guitar form so I find this particular piece of news very interesting. Also, while participating on the Klein Guitars Yahoo Group, one owner felt that the upper strap mount on a Klein electric tugged at him in a somewhat uncomfortable way. It was suggested that a fold out strap support arm similar to the Steinberger Synapse would suit the Klein electric. Of course, adding an upper horn would solve this as well and it made me think of the Klein bass.

    And, thank you for the input! Its exciting to hear from someone with your experience and background with these instruments.

  3. I need electronic books. please help

    1. Of the top guitar making books, the only one that is legally available as an electronic book is Martin Koch’s Building Electric Guitars. Check out this link to purchase it. The CD-ROM contains the book in PDF format as well as several video clips illustrating steps in the process.