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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good morning forumites. I thought I would start a build thread for a build I am actually just now completeing. That way it looks like it takes me a couple of weeks to punch these things out. :D

I started building about 6 years ago and was instantly drawn to vintage guitars. My first build was Gibson Les Paul Standard patterned after a 1959 burst. I used different woods but tried to stay faithful to the construction practices or at least correct dimensions and glues etc. I've done a few builds, for myself since, and have always stayed with the vintage era guitars from the late 50's to late 60's.

This one will be patterned after Gibson's somewhat radical decision to hire a car designer to come up with something new. The result was the 1963 non-reverse Firebird. They made 4 different versions from economy to high end. They used roman numerals ranging from I, III, V, and VII to describe the different versions. I will be building what would be considered a Firebird V.

These are neckthrough designs and have a laminated center that goes the whole length of the guitar. Here is my initial design. I'm a CAD monkey by trade so this is always my first step in the process.
Text Line Font Screenshot Pattern


The dashed lines are the sizes of the various pieces. Basically a laminated neckthrough with a bass and treble wing.

Here are the different woods I will be using.
Guitar Electric guitar String instrument Musical instrument Plucked string instruments


The neckthrough will be a 5 piece laminate the majority being white limba or korina with a skunk stripe of black walnut. The wings with be black limba.

Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Nice! So do you have access to a CNC machine to use the CAD dwg's
I do, but I would have to do the CAD files anyway to figure out how to build even if I didn't. I do these type of drawings as a full time job, so it's pretty easy for me.

Here is my machine -
Machine Machine tool Tool Art


I had a small hobby machine and upgraded to this one a while back. It's 25"x37"x9 1/2" work area with a vacuum table. I've recently added a vacuum pump as well. I like it. It's rock solid. Made in China but put together in Oshawa by CAN CAM, which are really great.

Cheers Peter.
 

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Looks like you have it sorted out, I wouldn't mind having that machine kicking around. I have CAD experience but its been a while since I've used it on a regular basis. So obviously you do the drawings to scale and then trace them out? I'm interested in the process, I have access to CAD and a plotter so its got my mind going
 

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You take orders? A cresting wave Ric shape as per your avatar could also work for me.

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
yes - I Could easily cut a body for you. I've modeled a 660 and cut the body and have a 12 string neck made up like the one in my avatar. Here's the file in my CAM software -
String instrument Electric guitar Guitar Wood Tree


Hopefully it will look like this when it's done.
String instrument Guitar String instrument Musical instrument Plucked string instruments


I actually traced the picture to get the outline. :)

Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Looks like you have it sorted out, I wouldn't mind having that machine kicking around. I have CAD experience but its been a while since I've used it on a regular basis. So obviously you do the drawings to scale and then trace them out? I'm interested in the process, I have access to CAD and a plotter so its got my mind going
Yeah - it's pretty easy if you have the CAD. If it's 2d I use a program called Vcarve Pro and you just tell it to follow a line with a certain router bit at a certain depth. 3d stuff is more challenging and I've been doing quite a bit of that lately. Check out my "Archey build" thread. I think I have a link to a video of my CNC machine cutting out the body. It's on post #15

Cheers Peter.
 

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I'll check it out the other build you have posted. I guess to get the 3d stuff you would just add the Z to the X and Y to get your depth of cut?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'll check it out the other build you have posted. I guess to get the 3d stuff you would just add the Z to the X and Y to get your depth of cut?
Actually the 2d has Z values but it is the same Z value for each tool path. For instance when you cut out a body shape you can tell the bit to cut 1 1/2" down to cut through the body and it will follow the 2d path. A 3d Tool path has to follow the shape, which is modeled in 3d. That is the tricky part. It is also harder to create the toolpaths for a 3d model. Like this custom design I am working on right now.

Here is a screenshot of a 3d toolpath -
Naval architecture Vehicle Boat Water transportation Watercraft

I'm carving a large arm contour on this custom guitar. It could take a 1/2 hr to machine that into the guitar.

Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Back to the Firebird - Because it's a neck through I had to figure out how thick the blank had to be to get not only the headstock angle but also the neck angle. I figured about a 3 degree neck angle with a 14 degree headstock angle.

String instrument Guitar Plucked string instruments Musical instrument Electric guitar


Looks like I can get away with about a 2 1/2" blank with the top jointed flat for the fret board surface. I also worked out the thickness of the laminations to be about 4" wide total. So off to get some wood. A nice long piece of korina and a equally long piece of walnut.
Wood Hardwood Floor Plywood Wood stain



Jointed, planed, ripped, rinse and repeat until all the right sized pieces came together.
Floor Wood Molding


glued up

and jointed the fret board surface.
Table Furniture Wood Bench Floor

next up cutting the neck angle - I have a jig I use to angle in my bandsaw.
Wood Tool Machine Machine tool Table


Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I decided to do a scarf joint even though I had the thickness to go without. I had seen a couple of cool guitars with a multi-layer scarf and thought it would look cool. It was a PITA to glue up but it worked out OK in the end and I am glad I did it. I wanted the laminates to be the same size as the center skunk stripe. I marked out the location.
Wood Wall Wood stain Line Hardwood

and made up a little block with the same wood and thicknesses. The two outside pieces were for clamping only.
Wood Floor Hardwood Plywood Tile

Glued up -
Tool Machine Vehicle

and jointed and sanded a bit -
Tool accessory Wood Machine tool woodworking

and laid out on the neck -
Line Wood Footwear Leg Shoe


back on the bandsaw cutting a perfectly solid neck blank - crazy?
Wood Table Tool woodworking Lumber

Planing the edges so I can glue them back nicely without gaps -
Wood Lumber Trailer Vehicle Plywood


Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I did a mock-up to see how it would line up -
Wood Tool Table Plywood Tool accessory

now the tricky part, glue-up. It's probably tricky because I haven't done it before. I should have blocked the one end so it didn't slide down the angle but it worked out good in the end -
Wood Tool Cutting tool Metalworking hand tool Machine


and then the next -
Table Workbench Tool Wood Tool accessory

and then planed flat again and back in the bandsaw to cut the headstock angle -
Tool Wood Machine Machine tool

back to where I started but with a nice multi-laminated scarf joint.

Next up truss rod acces, carbon fibre reinforcing rods, and sketch out the headstock to make sure it's long enough -
Wood Floor Line Table Hardwood

I cut the truss rod cavity, truss rod access, and fibre rod cavities on the CNC machine.

Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Never seen that before. Extra reinforcement for the neck I presume?
yeah - I know some people put them in all of their necks. I really just use it for 12 strings and thought it wouldn't be a bad idea for this build because of the scarf joint. I should have run it right through the end as it's under the face veneer anyway.

Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
So at this point the neck is in good shape and I want to try some types of wood for wings. I like the contrast of the black limba with the white limba.
Wood Hardwood Plywood Lumber Floor

Never too early for a mockup -
Wood Hardwood Lumber Plywood Table


I want to figure out the wing join while the blank is still rectangular. I did some homework and found out that the original Firebirds had a V shaped channel in the neck through and matching Vs cut out of the wings.

CAD file showing the wings and the V groove in the neck through -
Black Purple Violet Text Line


I bought a special bit for my router table to cut the channel and figured I'd just cut the reverse V on my table saw into the wings. Here is the bit -
Tool accessory


I mounted it in the router table and cut the groove. I cut some access cuts so I knew when to stop beyond the body -
Wood Hardwood Table


then I could cut the neck profile and the headstock -
Table saw Machine Steel Metal Wood

and the neck taper with a template -
Tool Table Table saws Wood Furniture


Cheers Peter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I think my son has that exact router table in the garage! Jeez it's nice to have the right tools for the job, ain't it?
yes, I joke with my luthier friends, of which I have more than a few, that I can afford to buy all these nice tools because I DO NOT build guitars for a living. Some of the tools shown are at a local college where I take a woodworking course and use their tools. I also teach there so it costs me $50 / semester to use all the big tools.

Cheers Peter.
 
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