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Retuos

How do you design your guitars? Proportionality and more.

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Retuos    2

Yet Another Post!

So I'm curious how you guys go about designing your guitar bodies!

I personally do it all after I've found out where everything should be on the guitar itself. I then trace the shaps on tracing paper

My own issues are proportions. How do you guys get your guitars into proportion? Tracing around your own or? 

Advice and tales fellas!

Thanks

R

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StratsRdivine    102

I personally think that God ordained the design of the Stratocaster, and meant for someone to design it, the same way that he ordained chocolate chip cookie dough to be made, until man screwed it up by cooking it in the oven.  Therefore, for me, since I like the strat design, I try not to deviate from the classic lines of the Strat too much, and kindof use it as a baseplate for my own variations.    

So I downloaded strat and tele designs from the web, then make a negative from the jpg, and insert them into my ultra simple 2D CAD program, scale them, then trace the lines using the spline line tool, which allows super smooth, graceful curvature changes (to answer your question about proportion).  

I would encourage anyone to download a simplified 2D CAD, just for drawing, because I self learned it over one weekend three years ago in order to send the dxf file out for laser cutting some chandelier armatures in SST.  Now I still use it everyday for my own laser cutting, for design, and sending dxf files out for waterjet, CNC, etc.  

I swear I wish I had done it ten years ago, although its easier and cheaper now.  I did a thorough review of entry level CAD programs and QCAD came on top for me.  It was only fifty bucks from ribbonsoft.com.  There is not one feature lacking in it.  Does every complex drawing I can muster.  

So to answer your question without CAD, I would trace around an existing body and adjust proportions to my liking with a bow tracer, or those flexible rules.  I used to do all that for years.  I often would simply draw freehand full scale.  Proportion is in the mind of the artist, so not sure how to guide you there.  Draw scaled down shapes on paper, live with them for while, and trim them with a razor to refine the design.  Thats how I designed my boat - I made a paper model and trimmed it with a knife.  When I liked the proportions I un-taped the model and scaled up the hull parts.     

DesignPhaseofBlazyBody.jpg

scaleboard-model.JPG

Got Mahogony-bluebirddocks.JPG

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komodo    81

Dredging this up because OMFG that boat is unbelievable. VERY nice work there, and a lot of it I bet. What is it's method of propulsion?

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Prostheta    1,257

Proportions are a very subjective matter, as there are so many factors that vary from individual to individual, and even then each player might be influenced in how they play with different instruments!

I can't think of any one set of ideas that I stick to myself, as I rarely design instruments that are unique. The ergonomics and proportions are driven by the instruments they are inspired by. It's a very good question, and one that I think will be either difficult to answer or generate a wide variety of them.

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StratsRdivine    102
On 6/16/2017 at 2:19 PM, komodo said:

Dredging this up because OMFG that boat is unbelievable. VERY nice work there, and a lot of it I bet. What is it's method of propulsion?

All I could afford was an oversized electric trolling motor, as opposed to small 4 stroke, plus the simplicity of it.  Turns out that was a good decision, as my wife and I love the quiet drive and reliability.   I upgraded it to the largest ever made - a 112 lb thrust 36V Riptide, in which I added a higher pitch prop, so it hits hull speed at 75% power, which is fine for all out boating (three AGM batts give me 6 hr run time).

I am glad the boat is in this discussion, because apart from my latest guitar being the 2nd most fulfilling project I have done (boat being #1 by a long shot), boat design is very similar to guitar design, at least for me, from an aesthetic perspective.  

You can make a very valid argument that highly flowing, aesthetic curvilinear design simply comes from the gifted talent level of the designer (sometimes a well curved line just comes out of nowhere), but much can be learned just from studying flow patterns in natural things like dunescapes, plant and wood growth, water flow, etc.  It takes a full life of logging great imagery into your brain so you can tap that image library when designing (trust me, I consciously do).

So you learn how curves highlight each other based on proximity and scale,  so you need to practice drawing a LOT, like how great guitar players have practiced since childhood.  

One great example is how the curved line of the top of a Strat pickguard does not follow the curve of the top of the body, but is rather scaled down and shifted, which ends up being "perfect" in my book.  

Here is a recent guitar design I am doing next, which relies heavily on the inter-related flow of curves, and from studying the flow of barchan dunescapes from photos of Mars from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft (public pictures on the HiRise website).  Quite fun to use QCAD to adjust curves slightly, which make a huge difference.  

Then, one must consider conditioned aesthetic, meaning to use a basis of design which is based on existing aesthetic shapes, and you can augment from there with your own design signature.  Conditioned, means that people are used to certain shapes in a guitar, boat, etc, and to deviate too much can be ugly, like headless guitars look like decapitated torsos, ergo guitars are too imbalanced, etc.      

 

Barchan-Dune-body-Blazy-7-11-17.jpg

BlazyGuitar-features-MedRez.JPG

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Prostheta    1,257

We certainly are conditioned by many of the templates, however several of those of themselves managed to introduce ideas into our design language borne of solutions; for example the straight string pull or cutaways of a Fender, etc. I think one can only peel back so many of the layers before you end up having to re-solve. Not that this is a bad thing, as it is always valuable to question dogma.

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komodo    81

Love this discussion. So many "tangible intangibles"  we talk about in my business (graphic design/marketing). While I can go on about it all day, I tend to follow my gut (which is informed by the lifetime of aesthetic study) and just know when "it feels RIGHT".

@StratsRdivine I've got a design I've been working on a lot, and it has a lot of the subtle curve interplay you mention that can be so tricky, but not as tricky as the one you show. It is interesting when you do something that is more of a Strat variant, or even just two-horned, and how the tried and true shapes have influence on what feels right.

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StratsRdivine    102
29 minutes ago, komodo said:

 I tend to follow my gut (which is informed by the lifetime of aesthetic study) and just know when "it feels RIGHT".

That is exactly what I meant about logging a lifetime of images and motifs into your brain's image library, so you can tap into it when designing.  Kindof;).   

Then there is the "just feels right part".  Don't you just love that?  I think that's the most addicting part.

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ScottR    1,366
54 minutes ago, komodo said:

I tend to follow my gut (which is informed by the lifetime of aesthetic study) and just know when "it feels RIGHT".

Likewise. I tend to scribble forms based on that gut feel and the resulting shape tells me what to tweak until it just stands up and says "I'm the ONE!"

SR

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Swenglish    2
On 2017-02-25 at 9:43 PM, Retuos said:

My own issues are proportions. How do you guys get your guitars into proportion? Tracing around your own or? 

Gut feelings have my full respect, and I think gut feeling was what directed the drawing hand of Leo Fender and Ted McCarty (tele-stratocaster + Les Paul, respectively). Some tricks might help the guts in their toil, though. Consistency in shapes is one. For example, when sketching the shape of the guitar depicted here, I used the same rotated oval shape twice, just different in size. Any other angle or shape on the cutout oval would have been wrong IMO.

And I regret that I didn't use the same oval shape a third time, in the peghead.

And maybe that is what gut feeling is all about - we feel this consistency or we feel the lack of it. But we can, as designers, profit from this and try to create in a consistent manner from the start.

 form.thumb.jpg.18f725103813e3b9abd05274c58cc433.jpg


 

  

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Prostheta    1,257

This sort of method is always guaranteed to produce attractive designs, since humans see patterns and systems whether they consciously acknowledge them or not.

In my personal woodworking, I love the works of Greene & Greene (architects from the turn of the 20th century) as their designs use proportional divisions from the first few number of the Fibonacci sequence (1, 2, 3, 5, 8) plus the golden ratio that this settles out to. I've always wanted to try and apply this to an instrument, however ergonomics tend to take a greater precedence!

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Prostheta    1,257

I don't really design guitars as such, at least in terms of the shape, etc. I don't think that creative eye is my strong point. I can however engineer everything else, and if proportion comes into it in that respect I'll concentrate on weighting (visually and physically) plus how it compares to established successful designs that are similar.

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