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Hello - everyone.  Just found this forum through a friend on another forum.  I started a build a while back and wanted to share it here.  I am a hobby builder and a friend, who has since past away, got me in to building about 7 years ago.  I have a full time gig as a trainer for Autodesk products for Architects and Engineers so have lots of CAD experience.  My MO is CAD heavy and I marvel at the builds that seem to just be free hand and hand tools.

This will take a while as I do not have a lot of spare time right now but I will be putting up lots of pics and showing my process.  All comments and tips are very much appreciated where I could do something better or different.  

 

I very much like the golden era of Gibson, and Fender for that matter, guitars.  My first build was something similar to a vintage Les Paul standard, my next a mid 50's LP JR.  As I did more research on this era I was really struck by the modernistic guitars from the late 50's and the introduction of the Firebird by a car designer around 1963.

 

As far as construction practices I want to be somewhat faithful to the original but the woods will be radically different.  I always start with CAD -

cad_start.thumb.JPG.37cb8daffa9fcd63271f291490c019b4.JPG

I downloaded some free drawings online and purchased a set as well.  My design will be neckthrough like the originals so I just laid out the CAD dwg to get a sense of the size of rough materials I will purchase.

I will be doing a laminate neck and I seem to gravitate towards skunk stripe necks for some reason.

Capture.JPG.6577e30276a186ba118438c888be0cdf.JPG

So I'm thinking walnut skunk stripe in white limba neck through.  I thought maybe walnut or possibly black limba wings.

 

Cheers Peter.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hey Peter! Looking like a great project. I've got two 'birds on the back burner which have been sat there for about a year. I'll be looking forward to seeing this one progress voyeuristically on that basis 😉

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mmm firebird.  sounds cool.  I have a set of chandler mini hums i've been hanging on to for a long time for a someday firebird... will def be watching and stealing ideas!  welcome.

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The emergence of the modernistic guitars really was a golden age, I like the look of your plan and I am looking forward to seeing some sawdust :) 

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1 hour ago, mistermikev said:

mmm firebird.  sounds cool.  I have a set of chandler mini hums i've been hanging on to for a long time for a someday firebird... will def be watching and stealing ideas!  welcome.

Yes - I bought a set from a forum member over at the other place.  They should be interesting.  Feel free to steal anything you find helpful.  I've stolen most from others. 😉

1 hour ago, Muzz said:

The emergence of the modernistic guitars really was a golden age, I like the look of your plan and I am looking forward to seeing some sawdust :) 

I agree.  It's unfortunate they were such a bust back in the day.  I made a Futura type guitar last year and I really liked the look of it.  It was an unfinished kind of kit, I guess.  Back limba body and honduran mahogany neck and braz fret board.

Finished04.thumb.JPG.0404296e5237e8297b5b931b4d687924.JPG

I've got another one about 1/2 done and would like to do a Flying V and Explorer at some point.

 

Cheers Peter.

 

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Once I decided on the plan view I had to figure out how thick of a one piece laminate neck through I needed.  Back to the computer - 

1738236930_thicknessdets.thumb.JPG.680b6f06f0c58fa79bcbf931c64b858c.JPG

Looks like 3" side will be lots.  The nice thing about laminated necks is that I can take flat sawn boards and rip them to width, 3" wide, and flip them up making them quarter sawn.

357125244_roughsawnnecks.JPG.a01b8e6167cceab00719c2ceec7a5a19.JPG

So off to the exotic wood store, which is named Exotic Woods.  Picked up some white limba and I had some walnut kicking around already.

74348872_roughlumber.jpg.460f3114f367604a14de20e49908839f.jpg

Regards Peter.

 

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Jointed, planed, ripped, rinse and repeat until all the right sized pieces come together.

neck-thicknessed_wood.jpg.c240447378f72f6961303363a2c05fc6.jpg

Glue up - 

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and joint the fret board surface -

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Cut the body angle, which I have a little jig for my bandsaw -

1745494170_neckangle.thumb.jpg.a9ae817de92c2e973b664a7377c754e9.jpg

Cheers Peter.

 

 

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I decided to go with a scarf joint even though there is no physical need to do so.  I have seen some really cool looking guitars with highlighted scarf joints and figured I'd put one in.  It's not even going to be the same angle as the head stock but should look cool.

scarf01.jpg.f3296a80bcc9e2238e3c900cf09f261d.jpg

I also made up a little block of the same laminate for the scarf joint.

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Glued it up and planed it -

IMG_3457.JPG.ab8eeb196372e42487e9b183c316716c.JPG

scarf03.jpg.34990180f2dde5043f189a0448b34605.jpg

and now for the crazy part.  Cut a perfectly good neck blank.

scarf04.thumb.jpg.53b729917d55b7388314bdc115b215e8.jpg

plane the surfaces - 

scarf05.jpg.9b6c484e5d306fdfd6920abe9e3bb874.jpg

Cheers Peter.

 

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A quick mock up and try to figure out how to glue this up without any noticeable joints.

scarf06.jpg.6959778544c1d2dfbeb6a54f5b97d2d2.jpg

the first one was easy - 

scarf07.thumb.jpg.8f69f7dafc29cb3d421a36104d158602.jpg

the second not so much and it started to slip but worked out OK.

scarf09.jpg.aaa6c3bdc4593fe8d6cd0265fe05a064.jpg

and onto the bandsaw to cut the headstock angle

scarf10.jpg.5df11b275d00cb3becb3a8ef68651951.jpg

I figured I'd put some extra reinforcing in this neck because I wasn't completely sure about that scarf joint.  So I added some carbon reinforcing rods and cut in a two way truss rod.  I like the ones from Stew Mac.

scarf11.thumb.jpg.5f999ef352ab39fe0b364fc8311c7814.jpg

 

Cheers Peter.

 

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If I was smarter I would have run the carbon fibre rods straight out the head stock because there will be a veneer covering it anyway and also a truss rod cover as well.  But I guess there are always learning points for next time. 😉

 

Cheers Peter.

 

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I guess it depends on what you want from the carbon rods. If it's additional neck stiffness, you've covered the areas where the neck bends most (fifth through say, over twelfth....depends on the neck in question) so the rest is cosmetics and OCD really! I've never been a fan of laminated scarf joints on the basis that they include unnecessary short grain paths through the neck profile. Essentially, the same short grain issue that plagues all non-scarfed Gibson-style necks! In general, scarfing a neck blank for a Gibson-type build is a good idea whatever the purists might say in that regard. Adding the problem back in can seem a bit weird though. In reality the fingerboard and acute angle of a scarf provides a broader plane within the cleavage area compared to a single piece neck.

I had to say it. It's very nicely-done though, which is the main thing. I've seen a few people attempt this and make a right mess of the whole affair. When it comes to critical structural points, you can't afford to get sloppy or do half a job. Love the marking up. Good layout adds another level of checking to ensure good work. Like I said, a thread that I can't not watch 😉

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6 minutes ago, Prostheta said:

I'd say that it doesn't. At least, not as much as people like to believe. 

That's interesting, I've seen several youtubers say that the point of a through neck and what gives them their "improved sustain" which is obviously very subjective; is the lack of a lateral glue joint between the peg and the bridge to inhibit vibration. So I guess if the glue joint on the scarf makes no difference, then a set-neck theoretically would sound no different either.

I've got a through-neck bass build coming up,  a scarf joint at the headstock will save a bit of £ on wood.

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People say a lot of things! Sustain is a silly concept and a poor marker for representing good vs bad. Subjective is putting it lightly. 😉

Of course differences exist however nobody puts anything real on the table when it comes to how great that difference truly is. Generally, building an instrument well and paying attention to good mating faces whether they're a glued scarf or a bolt on pocket produces far more favourable and measurable differences. I think people put too much stock in woo and paranoia. 

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your firebird is coming along nicely!  I look at it and think "gonna have to do me a cool lam neck/scarf soon".  Nice work.

 

afa glue joints:

Admittedly a victim of buying into the wholesale argument of glue joints being bad for tone -at earlier points in my life.  Had a friend recently argue that his neck thru guitar had much more sustain (this was on a 7pc lam neck).  This invoked some thought within me on the subject... was thinking about how many glue joints there must be on the typical acoustic guitars/instrument.  Yet they seem to sound great to so many great musicians.  I guess the truth is probably somewhere in the middle - between 1 piece guitars and guitars mfg from tone-wood-particle-board.

i used to think the benefit of neck thru was the smooth transition and easy access as well... but so many of my beliefs have been shattered by the talented builders I've watched here and elsewhere!

 

 

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I'm not so sure about the sustain concerns. The glue joints are extremely tight and thin.  Also it's a pretty small break in the contiguous neck under 1/4" of fret board material. I can say one thing for sure I will not be able to hear any difference.

So black limba it is for the wings.  Found a nice piece at the local exotic wood store.  Lots of character.

mock-up01.jpg.d86982eac501c23859d115bab29ec509.jpg

and a crude mock-up -

mock-up02.jpg.934ca202a94caf82a29b975780c84a5d.jpg

So while I have this big square block I want to machine what I can with the nice square corners.  Apparently back in the 60's they used a V-bit probably in a shaper to route a channel in the neck through and then cut a similar V in the wings.  I assume to give more gluing surface and for ease of clamping.  I found a bit to do the job, after some research on the correct angle.

But first a CAD plan, per usual.

wings_join.thumb.JPG.75f1f87a482146c482348e3b36673f68.JPG

and the V-bit purchased from Tools Today - 

370328530_groovebit.JPG.eec65440b5cf46a816d4d9ad82708fb1.JPG

 

I cut a notch out of the neck through so I knew where to stop the V-bit route and took small passes until I was at the desired depth.

notched.jpg.a4f9c574937a06bb8fe929844d9ce527.jpg

and an end shot with the bit - 

V-bit.jpg.d0c1c0e25778472b06c27a3ad912d236.jpg

So time to think about the wings and how the wiring channel and control cavity will be laid out.  Back to CAD - 

1541063752_thicknessdets.thumb.JPG.54de0e91f93d20fd0ad1f9d13589140b.JPG

Cheers Peter.

 

 

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I'm done with needing the nechthrough to be square so I can thickness the body, neck, and headstock to roughly the correct thickness.  I just do this on the bandsaw with the neck through standing upright.

profile01.JPG.9d1678d6db91d3570c7f05518d77d345.JPG

I made a little MDF template for the top profile of the neck from the body end to the end of the nut and used the router table to match the template.

neck_taper.JPG.11ebfe6bbc99a03e80412813f390d51d.JPG

If  you notice the different machines, you have a keen eye.  I teach a Con Ed course at a local college and then sign up for the wood working shop space time for a fraction of the price to use the larger tools,

Onto the wings again.  I made a template for the body as well so I can layout the wings in the right location.  They are offset a bit top to bottom.

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I also made a couple of head stock templates and used the router table to shape the head stock.

headstock.thumb.jpg.4d7d74914110252be522e22b635bb180.jpg

and sliced up a small piece of black limba for the veneer.

headstock_veneer02.jpg.b5aad887485cd9c39c99ffeba6a31093.jpg

I also thicknessed the wings to the correct width at the body join.  They are tapered so I have to come  up with a good way to taper them later.

wings_thicknessed.thumb.jpg.b5a60646f437471b957409ee17e7eed5.jpg

I decided to taper the wings using my thickness sander and shims to keep the angles correct.

wings_taper.thumb.JPG.23c21d4e790c41f9659e807d87c1fc78.JPG

I figured I could also use the template to route the final shape.  I thought I could keep them square and make it easier to clamp them into the neck through V joint first then shape them.

 

Cheers Peter.

 

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Very much by the numbers, Peter. This is exactly how my Firebirds are being built also. Question; is the grain direction parallel with the body or the neck? The blanks prepared for mine both have the headstock and the body falling away either side of the neck plane. Sorry if this has already been clarified. I'm on the mobile at work!

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I'm not sure what you mean by is the grain direction parallel with the body of the neck?  The neck through is pretty much quartersawn after laminating.  A little sneak peak to how the wings glued up. 😉

bodytrimmed04.jpg.43f35ae876ac917b8a6f1d280ce0c036.jpg

 

Yes there is a neck angle about 3 degrees and my headstock is at 11 degrees.  

Here is a cad file - I think it is shown above as well - 

Capture.thumb.JPG.478da89ba75b3e18da012054be297f9a.JPG

The neck angle was worked out based on my bridge and my preferred bridge height.  I probably should have had it a little bit more as will become evident in later posts.

 

Regards Peter.

 

 

Edited by pshupe

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The tapering of the wings.  This worked very well and pretty low stress as with the thickness sander it goes as slow as I like.  I marked the tops with yellow pencil and when the pencil was gone the tapering was done.  Easy Peasy!

 

marked and shims added -

wings_tapered04.jpg.18e6bef367edf6f7fe43156f35496f40.jpg

 

Thickness sanded - 

wings_tapered02.jpg.85ce67009fe2dba419c1597682ecedc2.jpg

Finished the taper - 

wings_tapered03.jpg.80dcd89db102f7f121b2e1725c3adc38.jpg

I made  up some templates for the wings.  The wiring channel, control cavity cover, and switch cavity are routed parallel to the top and the control cavity is routed parallel to the front face but routed from the back.  I made  up some templates and used another shim for the control cavity.  The others got routed flush.

wing_route04.jpg.db5ea9da6f473337110d19dcab454c33.jpg

wing_route05.jpg.5cae1b5756e14d490bb7193d5cd532d6.jpg

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I mocked up the wings and marked where they will go - 

wings_on_mockup.thumb.jpg.fd6379e89dfdb13c6dddfbf63dd9c19d.jpg

wings_on_mockup2.thumb.jpg.97b1caa514d834d6b3ad473f41759706.jpg

Cheers Peter.

 

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I also checked the depths and locations for controls - 

wing_route01.jpg.a3c93782a1d48dfb97090c3ab076d9a7.jpg

wing_route03.jpg.549ae1f63733d8af24ea23cc09266e87.jpg

If I haven't discuss this yet I have a small CNC machine so I will carve the heel and most of the neck on the CNC machine.  Again back to CAD.

Overall model - 

neck_3d-update.thumb.JPG.9ba6e39fc0d8a25a28948b74da2698ca.JPG

Inside my CAM package to set up toolpaths - 

neck_3d-update_CUT3d.JPG.ca2bcfa6496aa1f0475fb73a2192ba8b.JPG

and simulated carve inside the same CAM software - 

neck_3d-update_CUT3d-02.thumb.JPG.cd76da74c85011f241e59b576380c3c5.JPG

Then place the neck in the CNC and cross your fingers. - 😉

neck_CNC02.jpg.5be67cff5d78166a81840a6f82b5dc0e.jpg

This is the first real look at the scarf joint close up - looks pretty good.

neck_CNC03.jpg.494970991eb868d6161884f806ab8d74.jpg

 

Cheers Peter.

 

 

 

 

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Next up - fretboard.  Again with the CAD and Fusion CAM model.  I wanted to have the trap inlay bottoms routed to the same radius as the top.  I was able to easily model it like that but getting a tool path to actually cut it was challenging.

fretboard_CNC2.thumb.JPG.12893cc5ba47e3659a1441f6a6b2eb29.JPG

 

I bought a nice Ziricote board and thicknessed it before putting it on the CNC machine.

FB-01.thumb.jpg.7e6f46c0aec85f967382f4608ce1b30d.jpg

and ran the tool paths.

FB-02.thumb.jpg.97e0a3884573888de789c1e3e2589797.jpg

 

I have a tiny little end mill to cut the slots and am always anxious when doing this procedure but it turned out well.  The bit is 0.023" in diameter with a cutting depth of 0.10"

FB-03.jpg.ea51efba1d53cbf6bec2bceabe096178.jpg

and a quick mockup.

FB-04.thumb.jpg.4b6ece54da7314e35af56f06d851ac87.jpg

Looks good.  Now I can fit my cellulose nitrate inlays.

 

Cheers Peter.

 

 

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man, you are a workhorse.  You really get stuff done and fast.  I admire that.  I take brakes so freq that its almost as if I'm breaking with short stints of work in between!  Really looking good.

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