My top ten bad designs

So many instruments are let down by really badly designed elements.  They are so bad it’s shocking, but this is why I am in business, my goals are to seek and gain an understanding of the root cause of why an instrument broke in order to design a solution that works.

To me, designing is a procedure, not an act. My idea of designing something, is to encounter and solve as many potential problems whilst doing drawings on paper.  It is the way I was taught at school, and it’s a good idea, paper and pencils are cheap, and it saves a lot of time and heartache during the manufacturing process. Designing is not simply a case of, this is the solution in my head, and now it has to be drawn on paper before it can be made. That is just a waste of time and paper.

Therefore the reason why these instruments are listed as being bad designs, is not because I think that the instruments are rubbish, the opposite is often true, as an instrument they are actually sometimes very good, just badly let down by the frame, etc. What I see is a lack of discernment at the very heart of the process of producing an instrument, which is not an attribute expected or desired in a luthier. Mistakes can be forgiven, but ignorance cannot, not when they profess to be professionals.

The writing of thess blog posts will take some time. The instruments I have in mind need to come in to be repaired, so that I can photograph them and explain my reasoning. However, as you would expect, this does happen quite frequently for the most common instruments.

One final point, before I begin; the instruments are not organised into any particular order of inadequacy. They are used to help structure the text in order to highlight the processes I go through when thinking about solutions to problems. Part -1: Rock Roll and twist again looks at the forces exerted on instruments.

3 comments on “My top ten bad designs

  1. Peter Clarke

    The “parallel-bar” tuning gauge on the premier Timps for me is a seemingly rushed after thought design.The idea is fine but in practice is a cheap flaw design which for me detracts from what is a super instrument.If, after usage, wear and tear and transporting the bars become loose they wear away at the alloy metal and become quite problematic. Also the fixing clamps ( again weak alloy)are not strong enough to hold the bars securely. To me this tuning mechanism takes a lot of strain and needs to be much more capable of dealing with this.

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