I am now happy to offer two standard styles of cutaway; my contemporary styled 'Benjamin Scoop' and the traditional rounded 'Venetian' style.
Both styles are available on all models, although I would recommend using the Scoop on smaller guitars (000, OM, and 00) due to it's lower tonal impact on their already small bodies.
Left; 'Scoop' cutaway on a 'New Standard' Jumbo in sitka spruce and Amazon rosewood with bloodwood edgings and scoop.
Right; 'Venetian' cutaway on a 'Standard' JOM in adirondack spruce and palo escrito rosewood.
My 'Scoop' design was conceived a few years back and finally put into practice in late 2006 in a prototype guitar now in use by Thomas Leeb. The concept was to produce a practical cutaway which had minimal effect on the way a guitar resonates. I always felt that normal cutaways removed far more from the body than necessary because most people stretch out at an angle to reach the highest notes, with their thumb still resting against the heel. My final design was certainly influenced by the various arm bevels being produced by makers such as Ryan and Laskin and also the beauty of curves intersecting one another in my friend Alexander Batov's fluted back vihuelas but I sought to produce the greatest simplicity and elegance of "form following function" that I could. The development of the scoop cutaway went hand-in-hand with my 'New Standard' decoration scheme which echoes the ultimate simplicity I hope I have created with this feature.
My alternative traditional 'Venetian' style (rounded not pointy) cutaway gives a less radical look and may also be the only choice for players very used to this style who might find the angled scoop necessitates a modification to their hand position that they don't wish to make. I can also produce 'Florentine' (pointy) cutaways or other custom styles, ask for a quote.
UPDATE 2011: I was always a bit surprised that no-one had apparently come up with the same style of cutaway as the 'Scoop' in the past and was proved right recently when someone very diplomatically pointed out that Theo Scharpach offers a very similar option, certainly conceived before I had the idea, known as a 'Semi-Cutaway' and applied to his classical model guitars. My version is deeper and generally a different shape but the idea and way they are both executed are basically the same as far as I can tell!
UPDATE January 2012: Faith Guitars has just released a range of 'Scoop' cutaway guitars designed by Patrick James Eggle. The Faith 'Scoop' guitars have absolutely no connection with myself, Nick Benjamin, or my design the 'Benjamin Scoop'. I have, as you see above, offered this feature for five years very publically and pictures of the feature have been prominently displayed in several high profile guitar magazines with the name 'Scoop' or 'Benjamin Scoop' ascribed to it. I have made no attempt to trademark the name which, as far as I am aware, has not used commercially for any similar design by any other manufacturer or individual (until now), perhaps I have been naive?
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