PHOTOS: Incredible fret access. Ergonomic contours eliminate pressure points. Patented neck profile. Patented bridges. This is a custom Ultimate Shred Machine™ in walnut, carbon fiber, and machined stainless steel.
Mark flew from California to meet me in Fort Worth.
After years of playing guitar, studies at Berklee in Boston, teaching guitar, and an original band deeply involved in the recording process, the past was catching up to him. Constant pain.
An old skateboard injury. A broken left wrist. Clicking and popping in the joints and tendons of his shoulder and upper spine. Weakness in the fingers of his fretting hand.
Could I help...?
We headed out for authentic fresh tacos at Salsa Limon and I asked him about his band, his career. As happens to too many guitarists, fear begins to seep into the music, the conversation. The human body can only withstand repetitive motions — often in contorted positions — for so long before something begins to give out. When the thing you most love to do causes physical pain: there is so much sadness.
That night, I thought about how to help.
Mark is big. 6'5". Large hands, long fingers. We started with neck profiles.
I worked rapidly using sections of scrap lumber, roughing out scale neck blanks in various configurations. Most definitely a version of the Trapezoid Neck Profile™ or Intersecting Plane Neck Profile™ was going to prove the best match for Mark. The plane surfaces of both of those profiles would provide his weakened hand with additional leverage and guide good technique, by aligning his wrist.
The neck would also need to be oriented vertically 45 degrees or greater, relative to his torso.
After five or six attempts, magic was discovered in the Intersecting Plane Neck Profile™ (IPNP-DOWN). The surprise was the depth of the neck. When we increased the overall thickness of the neck to over one inch, suddenly his hand relaxed and leverage increased. I could hear the increased force of his fingertips as he "played" the wood neck blank.
For the first time in two days, he smiled. Pure joy.
PHOTOS: Mark plays a scale test neck. Ultimate Shred Machine™ is designed for horizontal or 45 degree vertical playing positions. Most importantly, the guitar will maintain exact positioning between seated and standing positions, so your time in the studio and on stage feels identical.