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At the Outer Limits of Solid Geometry: The “Twisted Neck” Guitar

At the Outer Limits of Solid Geometry: The “Twisted Neck” Guitar

by Leo Burrell

Originally published in American Lutherie #12, 1987 and Big Red Book of American Lutherie Volume One, 2000

I was greatly amused by remembering my own struggles while reading the articles in AL#8 about the compound radius of the fretboard. I was actually practicing these techniques before knowing what a plain old radius is. I have only been in the music business since applying for patent letters for my naturally rotated (twisted) string assembly (all of the components that define the string alignment: nut, neck, bridge, top of the body). That was April 1984. And I never would have built an instrument at all, let alone carve a compound radius, if the “Music Moguls” had had any respect for my invention. But they didn’t, so I did.

I enclose a photograph of me holding an instrument I modified in June 1984. I shaped the neck from a solid block of cherry given to me by Dan Rowe, shop teacher at Western Beaver High School, Industry, Pennsylvania. I whittled and otherwise shaped it during evenings for about two weeks, using the kitchen counter for a workbench. Oddly enough, I roughly followed the procedure you described in your article “Cylinders Don’t Make It” to shape the fingerboard. However, in my case, the procedure was complicated by the approximate 45° rotation.

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