Window Shopping & model making

Huh, well look at this. It’s only been a little over a week since my last post. That’s, like, a new record for me. Anyway…

Read part 1 here

As I began getting the ideas down for the guitar body, I needed to start figuring out the sizes and shapes for everything so I could fit them in the body. Spoiler alert: I didn’t do a good enough job and some of my assumptions were waaaay off, so I had to do a lot of hand shaping to fit everything after cutting the body, but I’ll get to that later.

First thing I wanted to know was how big could the guitar body be. That would help me finalize the outside dimentions of my guitar body design, and help define what extra bits I could wire up. As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted 2x tone pots, 2x volume pots, 1x blend pot, and 2 humbucker pickups, and it all had to sit so that my wife could use them without being in her way.

I found 4 main sites that carried body blanks that I was interested in purchasing in. The first,, pops up any time you google for guitar making supplies. After looking around for a bit I had a better idea of the names for things I was looking for. A body, neck, and fingerboard (or fretboard) blank. After searching for electric guitar body blank, guitar neck blank, and guitar fingerboard blank, along with StewMac, my second site kept coming up, And after a long night of searching, I came across my third. I can’t remember the details, but they had some beautiful wood and the option to select your specific piece. That site is Another spoiler: I have since purchased from all of these sites, and was happy with all of them. But note, Maderas Barber is shipping from Spain, and the wood you’re buying can be pretty heavy, so be prepaired for some shipping fees, and be prepaired for some shipping times. My wood was shipped fast via Fed Ex, but stalled out in one Franch depot for about a week and then again in New Jersey for another 4 days. But again, they had some beautiful woods, I was able to pick my specific piece, and the people I had contact with were super friendly, helpful, and quick to get back to me.

Going through these sites, I found that I could count on 20 inches * 14 inches * 1.75 inches. So I created myself a block with these dimensions in Fusion360 to act as a guide and then imported my sketch from Illustrator, trimmed some lines, added some others, and made a few extrusions and I had a base body to work with. I tried a few different ways of chamfering the edges, but but I’m not great at modeling and ultimately decided I would shape the edges by hand.

Next I went looking for pickups. That’s the little boxy thing that sits under the strings and generates the signal that heads out to your amp. Pretty important. At first I thought I could make one myself. After all, they are basically just magnets and coils. About the same as an electric motor, just spread out in a different arrangement. But to get the wire into a nice, clean coil I would need some kind of hardware. I could buy one, but I have never needed to wind a coil myself before, and would probably not need to do so in the future so that wasn’t practical. I could probably 3d print one, but I looked at the designs out there and wasn’t convinced they would be worth the time and frustration. I could try by hand, but thousands of rotations just sounded like an error-prone headache, and thousands of chances to screw up. So shopping I go.

Now I’ll admit, flashy packaging kinda got me this time. While looking for pickups, this one design kept sticking out to me. The Lace Music Alumitone Deathbucker. I mean, it just, just look at it.

After some research and reviews, I decided it might actually be worth trying. There are a few different colors available that will let me compliment the wood I get for the body. So I grabbed the demensions from the page and tried to model it into the guitar body. I didn’t want to use any pick guards so that I could show off more of the wood, so I had to cut through the back of the guitar to install everything. That was fun (note the sarcasm).

To work on something easy, I went looking for pots (potentiometers, aka the knobby things). For this I just picked some up on along with some knobs that I knew my wife would like. Then I grabbed the dimensions and started putting them into my model.

Now when I say I added something to my model, I mean that I created a rough shape fitting the part and used it to cut out part of the body model. But when I got to adding the pots, I began having problems with grabbing just the parts I wanted and moving them, and if I made a change to one pot I had to keep going back to the others to make the same change. This is where I went back and created a new model file for each item and then imported them into the body model so that when I needed to change a piece, I could change it in its file (complete with change history) and then just update the reference in the body. They were still just simple roughs of the shapes, but I could quickly update them to add detail or change something else and basically leave the body alone.

Other than the neck and fingerboard, I was almost roughly done with the model for the body. But I’d need to model the neck too to know what to do with the body, so I leave that for later.

But I did need to figure out how to suspend the strings. This normally involves a tailpiece to secury the strings at the body, a bridge to align the strings and lift them over the pickups and high enough to clear the frets, as well as terminate the vibration wave at the body end, the knut to align the head section of the strings and end the vibration wave at the head end, the head to hold the tuning machines, and the tuning machines that wrap the string around them to pull them tight and hold them in tune. But I found a cool way around this. A headless bridge!

The way a headless bridge works is that the strings at the head are secured in place with a sort of non-adjustable knut, and the body end of the strings go over a saddle, just like a normal bridge, but then connect to a tightening machine that is mounted horizontally instead of vertically. Instead of reaching for the head to turn a machine to tune your guitar, you reach down behind where you normally strum and twist a knob to tune your guitar. Now, I have to admit, this was going to be more expensive. Probably the most expensive piece of the whole guitar. But the whole point of this guitar was to be a gift for my wife, to be unique, and to be damn cool. Not to build a cheap guitar. So I grabbed the dimensions on the site and created a model.

Lastly, I wanted a Fender style jack that plugged into the front of the guitar. That was fairly easy to find, but the dimensions were not. So I had to look for references in the images, like the length of a plug, a finger, whatever, and create a rough model as a placeholder. Caps (capacitors) were the only thing left to find, but I could wait until I was buying to figure those out because they weren’t going to take up more space in the body.

I now had a better idea of what the body was going to look like, where things needed to go, and about how big it was going to be. I knew that I needed to at least get some kind of wood shaping hand tools, and my mill bits needed to be able to clear about 1.5-2 inches. Christmas was getting close and I needed to get working. I figured I needed at least 2 weeks to get everything done.

Bwahahaha. I was so wrong.

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