Our feature where you ask "The Master" your questions.
Ned shares more insights into the the new Synapse line.
I'm excited about the new Synapse line. Both the TranScale neck and piezo bridge look interesting. Can you explain in greater detail how you approached both of these options? How did you make some of the design choices? What were the challenges you faced?
Funny you should ask… Let’s take these one at a time.
Headless instrument design has two big advantages. First, the tuners on the body balance the weight of the neck. Second, the 40:1 micrometer style screw tuner is more accurate and stable than a conventional worm gear. As far as balance goes, the bass guitar gains much more from the headless design than the 6 string guitar, which has a shorter neck and lighter tuning hardware than the bass. So I asked myself, how else can the headless concept benefit the guitarist? I thought about adding a couple of frets beyond the zero fret, to extend the range of the instrument. The idea was to convert the structure that had been necessary for the headstock into a playable extension of the neck. Hence the 28 5/8 inch scale “D” neck. My first idea was to have a fixed clamp (or capo) at what became the second fret, to provide the standard guitar scale. But then I thought, wouldn’t it be better to be able to chose any scale length? This lead to the integrated sliding capo, or “TranScale” design.
The Synapse piezo bridge system is different from most electric guitars in that the saddle is one piece, rather than 6 individual saddles. While it is nice to have an individual (hex) output for each string, in my experience it is not possible to create the optimal piezo sound with individual saddles. I’m convinced the piezo sound of the single saddle bridge, which takes it’s design from the Polar pickup system offered on NS instruments, is superior to individual saddle configurations. The object of the Synapse piezo bridge pickup is not to try to recreate the sound of an acoustic instrument, but rather to open up new sounds for the electric instrument. I think of it as the “missing link” between the smooth power of the magnetic electric, and the complexity and detail of an acoustic instrument.
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