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Plans / Templates for first build

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I'm new to the forum so still scoping things out. I believe this post is in the correct section.

Searching through youtube for instructions on how to draw up my own guitar plans to make my own template. I found this guy who appears to know the score so I set about gathering up a few things to get me started and began learning along with this video.

I noticed that every other video has the builder drawing their plans onto paper first, however, this particular guy does his on direct onto MDF. I started doing the same. I got as far as drawing out the centre line, nut, bridge for scale length and began marking up the frets... then it dawned on me... OK, it's vital to have a full scale drawing but why does he choose to put this on MDF instead of paper? Why go into so much precise detail like marking out the frets on MDF when he is going to use the outside dims only for the template? Close to the end of the video he pulls out another neck template without any fret markings (so why do it in the first place?

Also, when he's cutting out his neck drawing to make a template I'm thinking that he'll end up cutting into the template intended for the body (or vice versa?) therby making the template inaccurate. I feel I'm just not getting it.

I realise I could just start over and draw on paper then transfer my neck/body drawing onto MDF but it's bugging me more than it should that he draws a complete guitar on MDF first. I'm not sure what I'm missing.

Thanks all


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I didn't watch the whole thing, but he could be drawing it out in its entirety at 1:1 scale on MDF simply because he doesn't have any paper available large enough for him to demonstrate his processes. I suppose creating the template for the body can begin using the actual piece of MDF he started his design on rather than trying to transfer it from paper to MDF. But unless I'm missing something, any template he's hoping to create from the same piece of MDF for the neck will be wasted.

Everyone's design preferences will be different. I personally don't see the need to plot the whole thing out in so much detail as he does. The neck could be represented by two tapering lines, plus a handful of perpendicular strokes to represent the nut, the last fret, the end of the fretboard and perhaps the fret where it meets the body. But each to their own.


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I only watched it in intervals, the 1½ hrs in a few minutes and without sound.

To me it looks like he's building a full size template to visualize a guitar-like object and the proportions and measurements to be taken into consideration when making templates for the individual parts. Something like frame where each partial template should fit within if you get what I mean. That approach may help someone with no knowledge about how a guitar works. Some Chinese builders could benefit from that video!

For 1:1 drawings regular wallpaper is a good alternative. It's tougher than just paper and rolls of dated designs can be bought inexpensively.

Edited by Bizman62
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If you're building a conventionally available model.. like a Stat or Tele...get your hardware, pick guard and neck, unless you're making it... then use the parts to make sure everything aligns visually on your drawing... little things like the bridge not being situated evenly spaced in a cutout in the pickguard like on the Strat or Tele can scream amateur... as can having the margins around the edge of the pickguard uneven relative to the edge of the body..  just little things...

here's some "stuff" I did a number of years back that might help.... 











Ron Kirn 

Edited by Ronkirn
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I often draw directly on to MDF as well, if you draw on paper, you either have to stick your paper plans to MDF to cut it out (in which case, you've lost your paper template anyway) or you have to trace the paper plan, then trace it again (or you end up with a mirrored plan), before you can transfer it onto MDF. If you've got a photocopier that will do A0 then fair play, but I haven't.

If you're building a common design, like a strat, tele, les paul, prs etc. Then I would consider buying pre-made templates. They're only about £60+ and will save you a lot of time, ensure accuracy on your neck taper and won't cost that much more money because enough good quality MDF will cost probably cost you £30 from a DIY store.

I've got some acrylic template from G&W and they're excellent. Acrylic although slightly more money is better than MDF because you can see through it. There is also the option to clone the templates and sell them on.

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