Plans: How I make them. (Lots of images.)

Discussion in 'Plans, Designs & Software' started by Heretic, May 2, 2013.

  1. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    OK.

    Controls.

    Since I'm going for the Sting Ray sound here, we need something akin to the Music Man 2-band pre-amp powering those things.

    Luckily, Nordstrand makes one. It's at the bottom of this page here:

    nordstrand pickups > preamp

    And also on this page here:

    Nordstrand 2B-MM Preamp - Best Bass Gear

    It has three pots: Volume, Treble, Bass. It has an output jack, and it has a battery clip.

    We'll end up replacing the output jack and the battery clip, but we need to accommodate the potentiometers first. This is pretty easy. As it turns out, most pots have a 3/8" threaded portion. So really, all we need to do is add three 3/8" circles to our drawing, in whatever configuration pleases us (me).

    I like symmetry and order. So we're going to do this in a methodical fashion. I want the three knobs in a pretty little row, roughly in line with the edge of the bass. Since this bass' edge is a straight line, it's pretty easy. First, we need to select the edge line and make a copy:

    [​IMG]

    We'll place the pots right along that line. But we don't want the knobs to be too close to the strings, because they might accidentally get twiddled by the player. So we need to know where the string is. To find that, we'll briefly re-attach the neck and draw a line between the G string nut slot and the G string saddle point, like so:

    [​IMG]

    OK, so now we know where the string is. The knobs need to be a safe distance. If we put the center of the closest pot in line with the rear-most treble side corner of the pickup and 2" down the body, that should be sufficient:

    So we draw that line:

    [​IMG]

    And place a 3/8" diameter circle centered on that intersection:

    [​IMG]

    Now, we also don't want the knobs to be too close to each other. It's a real drag to screw up your EQ when you go to change volume. Most metal dome knobs are 3/4" in diameter, so we'll draw a temporary 3/4" diameter circle centered over the 3/8" pot hole circle:

    [​IMG]

    That shows us basically how big the knob will be when it's put in place on the real thing.

    Now we just need two more knobs. I think 2" is plenty of space between them. So, let's draw a 2" line straight out from the center of the first knob:

    [​IMG]

    And change the angle to match the edge of the bass, which is 200.22 degrees:

    [​IMG]

    Then we copy and paste the first two circles and snap them to the end of that 2" line:

    [​IMG]

    One more. So we drag that 2" line, center it on the 2nd knob, copy the knob again, and snap the center to the end of the 2" line again:

    [​IMG]

    Then we clean it up, and it looks good!

    [​IMG]

    Note: If, when we receive the physical pre-amp, and the knobs are of a smaller diameter (which it looks like they could be, like maybe 5/16"), all we really need to do for the sake of fabrication is use the right size drill bit. We don't need to change the design at all.

    Now, the pre-amp comes with a battery clip. I don't much like having the battery living in the same compartment as the control pots. I prefer to have separate battery compartments. So now we'll make a battery box route. First, we need specs for a battery box. To Warmoth!

    Single Battery Box

    I like these Gotoh boxes. They're a bit of a pain to open sometimes, but they are slick to use and slick looking. Warmoth says we need a 1" wide and 2.25" long route to make it fit.

    So we'll do that. But where? It'll fit nicely between the pickup and the bridge, so we'll center it there. First, draw a line between the center of the pickup and the center of the bridge:

    [​IMG]

    Then draw a 1"x2.25" rectangle, centered on that line:

    [​IMG]

    That's a logical place for it. But...really, it belongs on the back.

    So, let's make a copy of the whole instrument, mirror it, and scoot it over so that we can have a top and bottom view of the instrument, both on the screen at the same time.

    First, we select the whole thing by pressing CTRL+A:

    [​IMG]

    Then we'll make a copy (CTRL+C), paste it (CTRL+V), and nudge it down so that it clears the "top" view:

    [​IMG]

    Now, we'll just mirror it vertically. Click "Line"->"Transform", or press CTRL+T, to bring up the line transform interface. If it's not already on "Mirror", click it. Then click put a check mark in the "Vertically" box, and make sure that there's no check mark in the "Horizontally box". Then click "OK":

    [​IMG]

    ...and you should have a backward bass. One could even call it lefty, if one so chose.

    [​IMG]

    Now we need to clean up the "Rear" view. Since I am designating the drawing on the top of the screen the "Front" view, the drawing on the bottom is the "Rear" view. So...we need to delete everything that won't be visible from the rear, like so:

    [​IMG]

    Also, delete the battery box route from the top view, because it won't be visible from there anyway:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2013
  2. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    OK. Now we need a control cavity. This will be on the rear view, because I hate front routed control cavities. Pick guards are, in my opinion, horrible abominations that ruin the look of many an otherwise beautiful instrument.

    So...how the hell do we do this? Turns out, not so hard. We just need enough space for 3 pots, the pre-amp module itself, and an output jack. To get this started, I'll copy the lower V lines (CTRL+C), paste them (CTRL+V), and group them (CTRL+G):

    [​IMG]

    This needs to be shrunk a bit. There are two ways to do this. We can either use the Transform tool (CTRL+T) to give it a fixed % to reduce it, or we can just grab a corner handle and shrink it manually. I am going for the latter. Note that if you hold the SHIFT key down on the keyboard while you resize, it will force the object's aspect ratio to remain the same. So...do that, and shrink it a bit:

    [​IMG]

    Then move it to basically center it, or wherever you think looks best:

    [​IMG]

    Looks alright to me. Now we need to close it off...shit.

    First, we need that pickup cavity back. We want to make sure our control cavity doesn't intrude on the pickup cavity. So, on the top view, select, copy, and paste the pickup outline:

    [​IMG]

    Now we need to mirror the pickup outline and drag it down to the rear view. To do this, we draw a temporary line between the CENTER of the END line of the fretboard to the center of the pickup cavity:

    [​IMG]

    Then hold CTRL down and select both the pickup cavity and that temporary line. Then use the Transform tool (CTRL+T), and mirror them both vertically. Then drag them down and attach them to the same place on the rear view you just dragged from from on the front view:

    [​IMG]

    Then delete the temporary horizontal line, leaving the pickup cavity.

    [​IMG]

    OK. Back to what we were doing before, which is closing off that control cavity.

    Now...we have the clearance room, so we could just draw another line between the two open ends, creating a closed triangle:

    [​IMG]

    That would work fine. But it looks a little goofy to me, so we'll do something a bit more elegant.

    So I'll delete that line and draw a perfectly horizontal one so that it clears the pickup cavity and intersects the control cavity:

    [​IMG]

    Oops, it doesn't touch one end. No problem, if we select that line and drag the bottom right corner down and to the right, it will extend that line along its existing angle:

    [​IMG]

    Then press CTRL+I and trim the excess. Do it on the other sides too:

    [​IMG]

    Looks a little neater, in my opinion. OK. So that's the outer line of the control cavity. But we need an inner line, complete with nibs/ears for the cavity cover screws. The easiest way to start is to select, group, copy, and paste the existing outline:

    [​IMG]

    And shrink it (remember to hold SHIFT down to maintain the aspect ratio):

    [​IMG]

    Well that looks a little funny, so drag it into a more reasonable position:

    [​IMG]

    Now we need ears for the cavity cover screws. We'll use three: one in each corner. We'll start with 1/2" circles, centered on the corners:

    [​IMG]

    Then we select each circle individually, and the INNER cavity outline, and use the Intersect tool (CTRL+I):

    [​IMG]

    Now we just delete the unwanted lines...

    [​IMG]

    ...and that cavity is all set.

    Now...we have the opportunity here to make life a little easier during the building phase. See that battery box cavity? It's 1.4" away from the control cavity, so you'll have to either A) drill all the way through that wood, or B) drill into the pickup cavity and run the battery and pickup leads through the same hole into the control cavity.

    Or, you could just move the battery box cavity. We'll do that. It's neater. But we need to make sure we place it far enough that the flange on the battery box won't overlap the control cavity. 3/8 of an inch will (0.375") do.

    So, draw a line from the center of the battery box to inside the control cavity:

    [​IMG]

    Use the Intersect tool (CTRL+I) to trim the line, and delete the remnants:

    [​IMG]

    Then change the length to 3/8", and drag the battery box cavity and snap it to the 3/8" line:

    [​IMG]

    Now clean it up and admire your handiwork:

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Purelojik

    Purelojik New Member

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    Thanks so much heretic:bowdown:
     
  4. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    You're welcome.

    The overall design is basically done. There are some choices to make though. For example:

    * Fretboard inlays?

    I like 1/4" abalone dots because they're easy to install and nice to look at. I just use a 1/4" forstner bit and Loctite super glue gel (gives more working time than regular super glue). About the best price I've seen for abalone dots is at grizzly: T1052 Paua Abalone Dots - 6.35mm
    I generally don't bother mocking up a fully slotted fretboard in CAD before I put the dots in. I have done it before, but it really didn't make the process any easier, so I tend to not bother now.

    * Side dots?

    On dark boards, I like 1/16" aluminum rods for this. On light boards, black plastic looks good. If you can't find aluminum rod locally, you can get it here: Solid Aluminum Rod 1/16 (6) (k+s3041) K-S Hobby and Craft Metal Wire and Metal Rods

    A fun new thing I've been doing is inserting 1/16" aluminum rod into 3/32" brass tubing. The brass tubing I've found is 0.014" thick, so the aluminum just barely fits. I cut them both into 12" sections, drip some liquid super glue into the tube, and shove the aluminum in as fast as possible. Then you install with a 3/32" drill bit, and it looks like a silver dot set in gold. Sharp. Again, if you can't find 3/32" brass tube locally, you can get it here: Round Brass Tube 3/32x36 (5) (k+s1144) K-S Hobby and Craft Metal Tubing

    * Fretboard slotting?

    There are a lot of ways to do this. You can buy a Gents saw with a 0.023" kerf, or buy a specialty fretting saw from LMI/StewMac/Allied/Etc (which is just a Gents saw with a 0.023" kerf). You can even get table saw blades with a 0.023" kerf, so you can slot your boards with POWAR.

    My favorite method to do this...is to have someone else do it. My favorite fretboard woods are: ebony, indian rosewood, bloodwood, and cocobolo. As it happens, LMI stocks all of those, and you can pay them $9 to slot it for you. I have slotted a few boards myself, and to me, it's worth the $9 to pay someone else to do it. As long as you are content with the scale options they offer, it's a good solution.

    Only thing is: You'll probably still need that Gents saw. It's possible/likely that after you radius the board, the slots will need to be a bit deeper. I have this one: Buy Lynx WCLG8 Gents Saw 8 at Woodcraft

    * Radiusing?

    I have gone the pre-radiused route, and I regretted it. I find it prudent to keep the fretboard square for as long as possible. It makes so many things just a lot easier. But then you have to radius it yourself. I've seen 4 basic methods in use: router, hand plane, sanding block, belt sander.

    - The quickest way to radius a board is to build and use a router radius jig. It turns the whole thing into about a minute long process. It's great, but you'll still need some radius sanding blocks to clean up and smooth the whole thing out afterward.
    - I've never gone the hand-plane route. It looks like a nightmare to me.
    - My preferred method is just sanding blocks. It's easy, practically foolproof, and gives nice results. The only problem is the amount of time, sticky sandpaper, and effort it takes. My first build was a fretless board with a "Select" grade Malagasy Ebony fingerboard. It was a 35" scale bass, and I wanted a 10" radius. Let me tell you...sanding a 10" radius into a piece of hard black ebony is, to be frank, something I don't enjoy. I started with 120 grit paper, and it took forever. Go with 80 grit, and it's not as bad. But still...sanding is about the easiest and most controllable way to do this, but it's also the most exhausting part of the whole building process to me. As radius sanding blocks go, I dislike StewMac's. They are too narrow for anything other than a 6-string guitar or 4-string bass. 7-string guitar? 5-string bass? Out of luck. LMI's blocks are much better, and you get 2 in 1: https://www.lmii.com/products/tools-services/radiusing/radius-blocks

    - Belt sander. I've seen it done with specialized jigs and shit, but I don't have a belt sander long enough to do it, so I've never done it myself. Grizzly makes a machine for it. So if you have $1000 sitting around, give it a whirl: G0574 Radiusing Sander

    * Neck Attachment:

    This is a bolt-on neck, so we need to think about screws. I'm not a fan of StewMac's neck screws and ferrules, because they're overpriced, and the screws are easy to break. I usually go with brass threaded inserts, hardened or stainless steel screws, and stainless washers. Lowe's is a good place for these. I wouldn't use smaller bolts than #10, but 1/4" is pretty good too. For my last project, I used these screws: Shop The Hillman Group 2-Count #10-24 x 1-in Alloy Allen-Drive Socket Cap Screw at Lowes.com
    And these inserts: Shop The Hillman Group 2-Count #10-24 Brass Standard (SAE) Wood Insert Lock Nuts at Lowes.com
    And these washers: Shop The Hillman Group 36-Count #10 x 1/2-in Stainless Steel Standard (SAE) Flat Washer at Lowes.com
    I think it turned out pretty good:
    [​IMG]
    Whatever way you go, you'll need at least 4 screws. I used 5 because I had the space. For this project (the Rhoads V bass), I will probably use 6 (4 on the bass side of the neck, and 2 on treble side).

    *Lumber:

    We'll need some of that. I plan to paint this thing metallic white, so I'll just go with alder for the body, and maple for the neck. But how much do we need? Let's find out.

    First, we'll need a center indicator on the body, so I draw a line from the center of the neck pocket to the center of the pickup cavity:

    [​IMG]

    Then select the body outline, copy it (CTRL+C), paste a copy (CTRL+V), and group it with the new center line (CTRL+G):

    [​IMG]

    Then move it out of the way of the rest of the drawing, so we don't accidentally screw anything up:

    [​IMG]

    Now we'll ungroup it (CTRL+U), stretch the center line out, break it at the Intersections (CTRL+I), and delete the scraps (DEL):

    [​IMG]

    Might as well group the whole thing back up, too.

    OK. It would be very difficult to find a single piece of alder big enough to make this thing, so we're looking at a minimum of 2 pieces. So first, we need to figure out how big this thing is. So, select the body outline and look:

    [​IMG]

    In the red rectangle, the dimensions are shown. It is 27.4561" long and 17.0251" wide. There is no lutherie supply company I've ever seen offer body blanks in that size, so we're going to have to make it ourselves. It's ~17" wide, so it would be prudent to go with a slab width of at least 18". If we're set on a 2-piece body, we need to go with with 9" wide lumber. So, we make a couple of 9" wide rectangles:

    [​IMG]

    Then drag and resize them AROUND THE BODY CENTER LINE until the whole thing is covered by rectangles:

    [​IMG]

    Oh, right. It doesn't work, because the top half is bigger than the bottom half. And that's a LOT of wasted wood that we'd cut off. We could easily cut off a piece of the waste and glue it to the top left corner to cover silhouette, but that's still a lot of wasted wood. A lot of people aren't all that concerned about wasted wood, but it is also wasted money. I use scraps of wood for clamping cauls, so it's not really wasted, but still. There must be a better solution.

    Here's mine. It's a 3-piece body, and it starts with 7" wide lumber:

    [​IMG]

    It'd be easy to just add two more 7" wide blocks on top and bottom, and it'd be covered. But again: Wasteful. So we make another block big enough to cover the top:

    [​IMG]

    And we slice it in half at an angle. To do this, we just draw a line from corner to corner:

    [​IMG]

    Then select the rectangle and the line, press CTRL+I, and make a triangle:

    [​IMG]

    Drag the first triangle down and place it over the upper wing, and finish the second triangle:

    [​IMG]

    Then we need to mirror the second triangle horizontally. So select the second triangle, press CTRL+T, select "Mirror" and make sure a check mark is in just the "Horizontally" box, and click OK:

    [​IMG]

    Then drag it to cover the bottom, to make sure it works:

    [​IMG]

    There is still some wasted material, but not as much as before.

    So...how do we use this to find out how much lumber we need? We go to the dimensions of the rectangles we made:

    [​IMG]

    The first one was 7" wide and 22" long.

    [​IMG]

    And the second one is 7" wide and 19" long.

    Add that up, and we need a piece of alder 7" wide and 41" long.

    [​IMG]

    Also, we need it to be about 2" thick, which means we need 8/4 (pronounced Eight Quarter) lumber. With that information, we can go wood shopping.

    I have no local source for 8/4 alder, so I have to buy online. My favorite vendor is Woodworker's Source. It is a local company in Phoenix/Tempe, but they have a pretty decent website with a pretty decent selection.

    Exotic Hardwood Lumber and Wood Supplies | WoodworkersSource.com

    A 7x41" piece of 8/4 alder comes out to about 4 bd/ft (board feet):

    7 x 41 x 2 = 574 cubic inches

    (the 2 is for thickness, about 2")

    574 / 144 = 3.9861

    (144 is for 144 cubic inches, which is what 1 board foot is)

    With a single-side straight-line rip, milled to 7" x 41", 4 bd/ft of 8/4 alder comes to $26.96. Pretty affordable stuff.

    Next: neck wood.
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2013
  5. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    So, now we need to figure out how much wood we need for the neck. First, make a copy of the neck outline and drag it away from the rest of the drawing, like we did for the body:

    [​IMG]

    It is 34.2562" long and 4.4.917" wide. But really, a lot of that width is in the headstock. We can glue "ears" onto the headstock after the neck beam is formed to make up that width. So...how wide does the lumber really NEED to be? The answer is in the neck heel. The width of the heel is the minimum width of the neck lumber. So how big is it?

    [​IMG]

    Oh. It's 2.5644". That's pretty small. I like to buy oversized lumber, even though it is slightly wasteful, simply because it gives me breathing room. As a part of my neck building process, I'll need to joint one side of the neck beam. And if I buy the neck wood 2.5644" wide, I won't have any room. But 3 is a nice number, so we'll go with a 3" wide neck slab. But....but...wait. I want to do a 3-piece laminated neck. That means I'll need to rip the neck blank down twice. I'll lose about 1/4" doing that, which will leave me with 2.75 (2-3/4") on a 3" blank. That's perilously close to final width, which could make jointing the beam a problem. So...better make it 4". Just in case.

    So, we need a 4" wide and 34.2562" long neck blank, right? Wrong. I'll be doing a scarf joint, which means I'll be cutting a piece off the head at an angle, planing it down to about 5/8" thick, and gluing it back on at an angle. Wood will be lost. How much? It's hard to guess. Best to plan for at least 2" of length to be lost, so we'll need a minimum of a 36.25" long neck blank. But that's still a little close for my comfort, so we'll round that up to 40".

    4x40". That's pretty reasonable. There will be a bit of waste, but I can always use more clamping blocks.

    [​IMG]

    The neck doesn't need to be as thick as the body. 4/4 (Four Quarter) maple will probably do. Preferably hard maple, also known as Rock Maple, Hard Rock Maple, and Sugar Maple. A 4x40" piece of hard maple is:

    4 x 40 x 1 = 160 cubic inches
    (the 1 is for thickness)

    160 / 144 = 1.1111 bd/ft
    (the 144 is the volume of 1 bd/ft)

    So we need a little more than 1 board foot. Luckily, hard maple is readily available locally, so I can go pick some up. It'll probably cost me about $10 for regular hard maple. Curly maple, maybe $20.

    So we're looking at wood costs around $36-$46 for this project. That's pretty cheap! It doesn't count the fingerboard, of course, but I already have one of those on hand:

    [​IMG]

    It's bloodwood, from LMI. I paid $16.30 for the board, plus $9 for the slotting. So that's $25.30 for the fretboard.

    So that's $61 - $71 for all the wood for this project. Still pretty cheap (considering the fingerboard alone for my first project cost more than that).
     
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  6. ERGdude

    ERGdude New Member

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    Insane man, just for my top and neckwood "granted its a thick neck blank" im already into my current build at around 140. Hats off and thanks for the CAD tutorial. I'm a 3d studio artist so its a kin to my craft \m/
     
  7. skeels

    skeels New Member

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    This has become my goal: to bring my design and building into the twentieth century, via this example. Thank you, man. When I first saw this, I thought, "Holy crap, I really am a caveman." but over the course of the installments you put up here, I began to realize that this is not, perhaps, beyond my reach.

    I have set foot upon a path from which there is no return, in part thanks to you, so many moons ago with your wild shaped 7 string on SSO and subsequently following you into the deep waters at talkbass.

    I found one error, however and it is a grand one.


    :nono:

    I am a wee bit further....

    And now, I must go to bed, as I, too, am also old.

    Thanks again! :hug:
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2013
  8. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    The last part of my design process is a spreadsheet listing all parts and materials, including quantity, price, and source. I am not a full-time builder, so I can't afford to keep a lot of wood and parts laying around waiting for projects. So I have to order almost everything I need when I need it.

    So here is the expense tracker for this project:

    [​IMG]

    (The crossed out stuff is stuff I already have on hand.)
     
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  9. poro78

    poro78 Well-Known Member

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    Looks familiar, I track the parts, prices and sellers with Excel too.
    And I also make formulas for what I've spent already and how much everything costs with postage and taxes.
    Really helps to plan ordering schedule for your project if you're tight on budget.
    I currently have 3 orders to make for my project, but with the help of my little sheet I've already ordered everything I need before the finishing and hardware installation. :yesway:
     
  10. Purelojik

    Purelojik New Member

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    hey heretic, i got a question. If we wanted to print these out to scale, how would we go about doing that?


    I made my fretboard/neck/neck pocket template design with this!!! now i gotta print it out if i cant find a place that can just cut with CAD.
     
  11. Purelojik

    Purelojik New Member

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    sorry for double post but i wanna show you guys how its coming along. these tutorials are so good.

    all i need to do is figure out how to do the tuner layout for an even string pull then im good to print and make these into actual templates!! thanks so much man i really appreciate the time you've spent doing these.

    [​IMG]
     
  12. aeleus

    aeleus Active Member

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    I use Photoshop, Visio and Excel like many others here. Since I am new to building guitars and tend to have large gaps of time between build sessions, I have to keep track of where I am and what is next. Otherwise, I'd spend the first part of every session just trying to remember where I was and what's next.

    I use project scheduling software to help me (MS Project). Not only can I track where I am, but I can also set the dependencies. For example, my schedule shows me that I'm still waiting for the headstock veneer to arrive, so I can't work on the headstock. But, there are 2 or 3 other things I can work on in the meantime. Most of what I track is probably second nature to more experienced builders, and I'll probably rely less on it as I gain experience. But, for now, it saves me a lot of time and mistakes (I hope). It also keeps me from forgetting to order something that will hold up the build later.

    Here's an example from my SG build:

    [​IMG]
     
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  13. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    I use cutepdf to print the design out on "Arch D" paper size to a pdf, which is 24x36". Then i take the pdf over to the local FedEx office store and they print it for me. Costs about $6.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2013
  14. Jenious

    Jenious Member

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    Indiana
    Thank you sir, this is incredibly helpful! After using Inventor because that's what I have experience with and failing miserably making the curves; I was sent in the direction of solidworks because that's what they use in the guitar building course at my university. But I could never really find a demo or free version for some reason (maybe I didn't use the google properly). I wasn't willing to drop money on software, and this looks very promising!
     
  15. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    Solidworks is sexy software.

    And boy is Dassault Systemes proud of it.
     
  16. muffinbutton

    muffinbutton New Member

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    How would you go about a multi scale guitar?
     
  17. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure. When I do, I'll be sure to show you guys.

    I know that FretFind 2D allows saving as DXF...which this CAD software supports as an import option. So, I don't expect it'll be terribly difficult.
     
    SMP Artizan and Jenious like this.
  18. Jenious

    Jenious Member

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    I was messing with an 8 string guitar and the problem I have been running into is when you import it the 1st and 8th strings tend to snap to the edges so you have to move them around yourself.
     
  19. Purelojik

    Purelojik New Member

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    hey heretic. so when i print with cutePDF should the settings in the cute pdf be to print on ARCH D ? or the inital printer window options? or both?
     
  20. Heretic

    Heretic Well-Known Member

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    You have to select Arch D as your paper source on both the app you are printing from, and in the CutePDF printer properties window.
     

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