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Bad Autocad


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I've been seeing increase talk of people using autoCAD for the design of guitar bodies and I just thought that I'd post this for teh peoplr who are looking into using it.

I've been doing quite a few guitar drawings recently (I'm doing 4 at the minute, all for different styles of axe) and I've been doing them on CAD. It's been quite a big job taking up quite a few evenings when I should have been drinking beer in front of the football.

This is just a little warning to people who would like to start using AutoCAD for body design: IN MY OPINION, IT'S JUST NOT WORTH IT! Fair enough if you want to learn CAD and are combining that with the guitar, but a pencil and paper is far faster and more creative. While I've been doing the drawings, I have been paying special attention to the resonator drawing as this is going to be the basis of my special project (which is moving on very nicely in the background). Due to some of the funky materials that I intend to use, I was looking at the design of the area where the cone and soundwell are in the hope of changing the design to suit. I started off using CAD, forgetting my own advice and I was fiddling for ages.

Once it had thouroughly p**sed me off, I grabed my pencil and paper (and a beer) and started to sketch. After about half an hour, I had the design right. Then it was easy to do the detailed design in CAD.

The morral to the story is that CAD is good is for a final draft of drawings but for every else a pencil and paper is by far better. You shouldn't start using the CAD until the design is clear and you're sorting the little details out. I use CAD for the majority of the week while I'm in the office and although the application is very different, the method is still the same.

This is of course only my opinion and some people will probably think different. But you can hold far more information on a pad of paper than you can in your head, so get sketching.

Kaj

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+1

I have zero CAD experience, minimal photoshop/illustrator skills, but the act of drawing things out full-size gives me a much, much better feel for the instrument I'm designing. A selection of pencils, a sharpener, an eraser, large roll of good quality paper, a couple of rulers, and a flat surface to work on. That's all you really need. And work full size, or you'll never quite get a proper feel for what you're doing.

You're going to be shaping bodies with your hands anyway, and getting a feel for proportions is much easier when your hand is drawing said proportions directly, and you can see the full-sized result yourself, clearly. If you want symmetry, fold down the centerline and cut it out. I tend to draw something out in full, fiddle until I think it looks right, cut out the shape (a pair of scissors can do a killer job of smoothing out transitions), stick it to a wall somewhere, and stare at it until parts of it start bugging me, which is invariably the case. I take notes on the cutout itself (arrows, 'tighter waist', 'wider here', whatever), then take it down, trace it on a new sheet, make changes, and repeat the process.

I pretty much never, ever go with the first incarnation of a design. It may look fantastic, perfect when you've just finished it, but 99% of the time there will be some minor niggle I'll want adjusted. Heck, I even want to make some slight adjustments to the more or less 'final' designs I've got for extreme and quasi-symmetrical doublecuts. They're almost there, but still not quite. Or maybe my tastes have shifted, who knows?

My final 'CAD' drafts, however, are master templates. Because I'm too lazy to bother learning CAD, and I don't see how it would be beneficial to me, personally.

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Mattia, it took me all of one evening (well, a couple of hours) to learn pretty much all I need to know about Autocad to be up and running...from the little I know about you, I'm sure you'd have no problem learning it.

And Tonemonkey, you ever hear of a laptop? I do things like this in front of the TV! (Though for me it's more like Survivor than sports! ). Well, hell, I do most of my work in front of the tv or listening to the radio, lets me feel like I'm not working.

For the rest, I think it depends on the individual and what they're comfortable with. If you know Autocad well, there's no reason why you couldn't work as automatically with that as you do with a pencil.

Since I can't draw a straight line, Autocad works great for me.

Of course, you're talking to a guy who still types the first drafts of his novels on an old manual typewriter, so I understand exactly what you're saying. There's something about not being plugged in that makes it easier to create.

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I use my laptop, but I end up watching to football with a laptop sitting on me if I don't move to another room. Besides, lets the girlfriend watch Eastenders in peace.

I know most of AutoCAD inside out, it sure as hell has its uses, but concept design isn't one of them. I'm not too proficient at technical drawing with a pencil, which is why most of my designs go onto CAD for my final draft. Then it's a case of printing out full size, breaking out the pencil again and making notes. Then back to CAD and repeat until you just can't take no more.

And Idch, anyone who says that they can draw a straight line is lying :D

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Idch: I'm sure I could learn it, but right now, I don't see any advantage to it. Printing stuff off is much more expensive than buying a roll of paper and drawing it, and I'm still doing my molds and templates by hand anyway. Oh, and also? The only straight lines you need for a guitar are those you draw with a rules. The rest is al about curves :-)

If I got to a point where automation was an issue, or where I built the exact same guitar more than once (to date, that hasn't happened), I might consider it. I can see how it would be easy to fiddle with neck geometry, pickup and control layouts and the like, but my lo-tech system works just dandy for me. I have to measure it all out on the body itself anyway, after all; it's almost an extra check/balance, since I never trust drawing completely and always re-calculate, re-measure before acutally putting tools to wood.

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Welcome to the life of an architect. In school we are taught to hand draw and then in the 3rd or 4th year we start using cad. Mianly because its alot faster and more accurate. That doesnt necessarily mean we dont hand draw at all. We start with hand sketching on trace and then move to cad. Personally I can design and draw faster in cad then by hand. But for curvy stuff ill still plot out 1:1 and free hand then bring it back into cad for templates and what not. another good program besides cad for curvy drawings is Rhino 3d.

MzI

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IMHO, AutoCAD can be great for concept drawings(if you're going with a totally new body) because of the spline tool. If you're designing a totally new body profile, you'd have to constantly draw, erase, and tweak lines if you were doing it on paper. Do the same thing with the spline command in AutoCAD and all you have to do is drag the verties of the spline until the shape is exactly like you want it. I'm making an incredibly detailed 2d plan for my next build on AutoCAD; just a few more details need to be added. I'm going to go get it printed out full size once I'm done. AutoCad can definitely have its advantages. For example: lets see the average joe draw a .08" binding strip around a guitar body with 4 layer .08" purfling. That's easier said then done. With the offset and pedit commands in autocad, it's a piece of cake, not to mention it's about as perfect as it's going to get.

peace,

russ

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Well, the last one that I did (the resonator one). A centre line was drawn on a bit of paper and the guitar was traced around (this was done before it was handed to me to draw up).

I then drew a grid on AutoCAD with 5mm spacing (using different coloured lines for clarity when it's been printed) and having a good centre line marked. I cut out the original drawing and stuck it onto the grid, lining up the CL's. Traced around it and then at every 5mm line (running along the CL) you can measure up to the edge of the tracing and stick the figure into CAD, making sure that the ORTHO command is on (so you can only draw horizontal or vertical lines). Then just spline around the ends of these lines.

I then scaled the drawing up in model space by 1000 times and smoothed out the spline. The I scaled it by 1/1000 to get back to the original size.

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The thing about CAD as with any other drafting tool is how comfortable you are with it. Hand drafting (done well) is an art, with plenty of tricks and tools that are learned. I worked with a guy that was the best hand drafter I had ever met. He had no question in his mind that CAD was capable of making cleaner drawings. You learn tricks in CAD that speed the process up. A design can be copied and played with as many times as you want. You don't have to erase to edit. This allows you to try something different and see how it compairs. I could go on, but I believe it really comes down to. Use what works for you. If you can draw it accurately enough for your requirements, then go that way. Main thing- Have Fun. Thats what its all about.

Peace,Rich

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