B-Way Guitars contacted us here at Guitarz with news of his new line, the Mercury Head guitar. It somehow manages to look new and familiar at the same time, and as I commented to Ben, reminded me of a Fender Strat hybridized with an Ovation Breadwinner and a little bit of Tele thrown in. I asked Ben about how the design came about, and whether he was thinking ergonomically. He told me:
How I arrived at the body shape: yes, it was partly based on ergonomics. I took some inspiration from Klein and Teuffel, which I would guess were in turn partly inspired by the Breadwinner. I also sat down and studied how my Strat and Tele sat on my legs and which parts actually touched me when seated in the typical electric and classical guitar positions and how the locations of the strap buttons and body contours affected the position of everything when standing. Then I started messing with a picture of a Strat on my Macbook, warping it this way and that, squeezing certain parts, blowing up others, trying my best to guess how the total mass and distribution of weight would work in reality. (I didn't have the resources to go through multiple prototypes.) Everyone's bodies and arms are built differently, but at least for me the shape feels very comfortable in both the standard horizontal and diagonal/classical seated positions.I think it looks and sounds great - you can hear it for yourself in this soundclip. It is indeed a quality instrument, with the bulk of the build process being carried out by Glenn Sweetwood of Sweetwood Guitars on behalf of B-Way. The Mercury Head features Sweetwood's innovative 2-bolt neck system using machine thread connectors and allows for a greater contact area under pressure in the neck join, which means better tone transfer.
I also had a theory that extending the overall length of the body and moving the center of gravity towards the tail without increasing the total volume might deepen the voice of the guitar a tad without making it heavier. Now that I have the prototype in my hands, I think it worked. Although to be honest it's hard to separate what's due to the body shape from what's due to that particular piece of alder. To my ears the bridge pickup has a nice bark to it, without the icepick highs that many don't like about Strat bridge pickups, the neck pickup has balanced highs and a good amount of tight bottom end without mud, and the in-between position sounds like your typical chimey Tele.
Thanks to Ben for getting in touch with us and showing us this interesting new guitar. Here at Guitarz we're always happy to support indpendent luthiers and small, non-corporate, guitar companies. Keep in touch, Ben, and let us know of any developments.
G L Wilson
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