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First Build, Neck Through

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Hey everyone,

I am in the process of building a neck through guitar inspired by Jerry's Wolf, made by Doug Irwin. I am in the process of gathering all of the parts right now. I ordered a prefab neck from Doug at Soul Mate guitars and it turned out AWESOME!!! I have a nice planed piece of Purpleheart and a nice piece of flamed maple I want to use for the top and bottom. My question is this, should I get all of the parts for it before starting any construction? I mean the switches, jacks, knobs, pick ups etc. the bridge and tuners just arrived today and the neck is already completed. So I guess where I would be starting is making the body and determining the neck angle. I have some pictures that I can post and I have the shape of the body figured out. I have a friend who is a cabinet/furniture maker who will be helping me with the machining. I have read the mistakes to avoid already and there was a lot of good information there. What are some good ways to start planning the build, What kinds of paper do you suggest for drawing it out. Has anyone ever blown up a photo of a favorite guitar to use as a guide? If so how did you go about it? I could easily take a picture to kinkos and have them blow it up but I want the dimensions to be right. Any pointers and info would be very helpful and I would greatly appreciate it.

Please be kind, as I am new to this and just looking for some guidance.


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Has anyone ever blown up a photo of a favorite guitar to use as a guide? If so how did you go about it?

Yes, i found a dead front on high res pic, blew it up in paint ( :D ) so it would print on 5 or so pages, blanked out colour to save ink, printed out one page, measured a known length to check scale, adjusted to suit, printed out all 5 pages, taped together.

Of course this is probably the worst way to do it and someone with computer knowhow could do much better. Iit all turned out fine for me so I'm happy :D

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I'm new to this whole thing aswell, you are not the only one. There is no way that you need all the pots and electrics (although kowing the pickup style will be useful) to start cutting the body to shape, just make sure you know roughly how big they are when planning the shape, so you have the space for them.

For blowing up the picture it might be an idea to outline a guitar shape than printing off a picture as it might be cheaper. On my projects so far I have just drawn/ printed it out on multiple sheets of paper taped togethor.

Hope this helps!


Edit: you can get various cad programs for free which might give you a better idea of scale

Edited by feral_smurf
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To blow it up, get the best straight on front shot you can. Either find a free or trial cad program or photoshop or someone that knows how to use these programs to do it for you. Paste your picture in and use the measure tool to check from the fretboard side of the nut to the center of the 12th fret. Divide one half your desired scale length by this number, the result will be how much you need to scale the picture up to full size. Then either break it up to print on letter sized paper, or send it to Kinkos to print out on one full sized sheet.

The more hardware you have on hand to start you build the better. As long as you know a rough size of the eletronics though, you can figure out where you will put them and how big to make the control cavity. I would say that you must have your bridge though to get an accurate height to fugre out your neck angle, if needed.

Again, a CAD program is great to draw out a full sized side view. In not, get a large sheet of paper and draw it out full sized or at least to 1/2 scale size. If doing it by hand a little trig. knowledge won't hurt.

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  • 1 year later...

I practiced re-sawing for the first time yesterday. The band saw wasn't the best but I was trying to get a feel for it. I practiced on some white oak as not to mess up my nice flamed maple. Hopefully this guitar will be built within the next decade.

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  • 1 year later...

I finally got something done with this project!!!! After learning to use the tools in a cabinet shop, tracking down wood and parts I have finally started.




I hope when it is all said and done to have something somewhat like this guitar.


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Okay, here is a little on how I make my CAD plans from photos.

- Import image of dead-on instrument.

- Move image's centre point to the centre of the twelfth fret on the image.

- Move image to X=scale length/2, Y=0.

- Rotate image so the centre of the nut is also at Y=0.

- Measure from the nut to the twelfth fret and from the twelfth to the saddle. These are rarely equal due to wider angle photos. This is used to ascertain how reliable derived measurements can be.

- Scale image by the scale length divided by twice the measurement from the nut to the twelfth fret. This brings it to 1:1 scale. The saddle point should sit at X=0 if the image is reliable.

Bear in mind things like the headstock and neck angles as these will distort the apparent length of the neck, body and headstock and put out the positions of the frets and geometrically important parts. I always draw a "top down" flattened instrument plan so I can print out 1:1 router templates. I often derive measurements from a composite of photos made from head-on photos of the body, whole instrument, headstock, rear of the body, etc.

Most of it is factoring out or at least understanding how errors can creep in and increase your tolerances. Most repros I do from photo stock have turned out to be within a 3-4mm of the actual body size which is still a large tolerance but not far out from the tolerances I get when measuring from sample instruments (less than a couple of mm). Considering the thickness of modern finishes, this starts to become very reasonable.

Either way, as long as you are sticking to the geometric principles of guitar design and transplanting that onto the geometrically unimportant parts of the instrument you should end up with a fine instrument. :D

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  • 5 months later...

Here is a plan for this guitar that is very accurate.... when you scale it up, you can get the proper dimensions....


to further research the guitar, look here


good luck and happy building!

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  • 5 years later...

I know it has been forever since I posted here, in fact I kind of forgot about this place and wasn't sure if it was the same one as the old site. Regardless, the wolf has been completed for some time now and plays and sounds awesome!!!! I ended up bringing the materials and parts to a local builder to finish for me because the more I got into the project I realized I was way too ambitious to pull this one off for a first build. Combine that with not having a workshop, tools and experience I figured I'd better call in some outside help. The results are fantastic and I couldn't be happier.  After bringing the materials to my local builder it was about another two years before the project was completed, in fact I forgot about it because I wasn't playing as much and was back in school full time. Here are some pics to check out.

09 02 18_0082.jpg

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The neck came from Doug at Soulmate guitars and his work is impeccable and flawless. Unfortunately he has since stopped building guitars and necks to focus on other things.

09 02 18_0092.jpg

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