DEVELOPMENT OF THE KLEIN ELECTRIC
No one designs or develops a new concept or product in a vacuum. The innovative Leo Fender was influenced by the earlier ideas of electric guitar pioneer/builder Paul Bigsby, as well as the many musicians he showed his prototypes to. And, in my own work on the Klein Electric Guitar, there have been three very influential people involved in its development.
The first of these is my good friend Carl Margolis. We learned the basic chords together in the Sixties. Over the years Carl encouraged me to design an electric guitar that would be more comfortable to hold, sit or stand with. (The word I later learned to describe this was "ergonomic:" (Greek) meaning to work with the body.) I reluctantly began experimenting and between 1976 and 1981 ended up with a series of large, strange and very ugly electric guitars. But dozens of drawings later, after finishing the fifth really playable guitar, I realized that a fundamental relationship between the center line of the neck and the waist, or where the instrument rested on the leg, had to change. This led to a guitar affectionately named "Lumpy" by David Lindley.
In 1986/87, Ronnie Montrose and I designed yet another guitar, the M/K. Ronnie has a great eye for aesthetics and I enjoyed developing ideas with him immensely. Although he was not interested in a compact design like "Lumpy", Ronnie's first drawings were surprisingly similar to Carl's first sketches. Together we designed a longer, more graceful instrument with three on a side peg head and smooth, lute-like line to the upper half of the body. This process greatly developed my sense of solid-body electric guitar design.
Finally, in 1988 I had a chance to get to know Ned Steinberger better. We had met at past music trade shows, but this time, at the the Gibson plant in Nashville, we had the time to trade ideas and talk at length. Ned's independent design became the next piece to the Klein design puzzle. On the flight home I had the realization that a headless neck would make "Lumpy" balance properly. And "Lumpy" with the aesthetic lines of the Montrose/Klein guitar could work.
After I returned to my shop, the basic concept for the Klein Electric fell together on paper in less than half an hour. But it had taken 12 years of ground work to realize it. Now the response from professional players, teachers and students alike makes me believe a valuable new product has been developed.
Many thanks to Carl, Ronnie and Ned.
Written by Steve Klein / 1990