Like a pair of left-handed scissors or a plaster for non-white people, sometimes it takes seeing an alternative to realise how an product you think of as universal is actually made for a specific type of human. And unless you’re a woman, a smaller person (or someone with a less-than-Herculean back) and you play an electric guitar regularly, you’ve probably never thought about how much the guitar shapes we’ve come to recognise as ‘classic’ are geared towards bodies that are a) reasonably strong, and b) without breasts (i.e. usually men).
Thankfully for people without backs of steel (and people with breasts), guitar genius Annie Clarke (AKA St Vincent) has just designed a signature model for Ernie Ball that is light and, according to her Instagram, leaves “room for a breast. Or Two.”
"I can't even play a ‘60s Strat or ‘70s Les Paul," she told Guitar World in an interview about the model. "I would need to travel with a chiropractor on tour in order to play those guitars."
Given the option to modify an existing or start from scratch, Clarke opted to design her own, taking inspiration from new wave artists Klaus Nomi, the Memphis design movement, and japanese guitars from the 60s.
One of the first women to ever have a signature model guitar, Clarke says she’s glad that a guitar exists that is “sympathetic to the female form”, but hopes both men and women enjoy the ergonomics, “but smaller people and women especially.
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