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Discussion in 'Luthiery, Modifications & Customizations' started by HighGain510, Nov 14, 2007.
Just my 2 cents on that comment, putting a piece of wood through a machine is still a process that's done "by hand" as you're steering the workpiece. An accident on the craftsman's part results in a problem. So really, imo, it makes no difference if it's a bandsaw or a chisel, the same principal applies, despite there being a motor behind one of them.
If your machine is calibrated and maintained properly, you're taking the human error out of the equation. That's the difference. The operations being performed on the CNC are PRECISE, you're not doing the work outside of programming. What you're arguing is missing the point entirely.
50-100 more years from now, androids will be making our guitars and i can have a completely custom shop guitar made in 3-4 days
course i'll be old as fuck or dead by then so i don't care LOL
I-tar and guitandriods
A CNC is a tool in the luthier's kit for them to make a guitar. For a large chunk of a build, it's the best tool to make a pile of accurate, precise, repeatable cuts routes and shaping. We aren't cavemen. We have CNC and computers to help us with the construction of stuff. It's the best tool for the job and I'd never complain about someone using one.
It's like paying more for a surgeon to only use a scalpel instead of all the high tech equipment they have today. Wonky analogy I know.
Personally, it's the time that I spend sawing and sanding by hand that makes it worth it... but that's only because I build guitars for myself. Since I don't have a bloody bandsaw I can spend an entire week hand cutting (almoast non-stop) neck laminates. Or a day cutting a guitar's shape with a tiny coping saw. When you put so much work, sweat and a drop of blood now and then into a guitar (or anything really) you almoast become bound to that instrument.
BUT, If I was paying someone else to make me a guitar I wouldn't give a rat's ass of what tools he used if the final product was good. In the same way, if I ever started building for anyone else, I would NOT hesitate to have a CNC to help me out.
Keep in mind this is comming from someone studying to become a mechanical engineer (oh so close) and CNCs should be my first choice... but when you are dealing with numbers and equations all day long, doing a bunch of handwork is almoast therapeutic.
Wow, thanks for bumping this. I never got to read this article and it's great. I can't explain how many arguments I've had to walk away from with people telling me that all my PRS are shit because they aren't "pre-factory" hype. I've seen first hand the CNC's at PRS (Im assuming they are extremely similar at Rons and other luthier shops) and it just make sense. The CNC code is modeled after a hand carved body, so you literally are getting an exacttttttt recreating of a handcarved body. The dramatic reduction in errors and wood waste, as well as time saved only add to the value you are getting. I mean honestly, how much do you think Ron would charged for a gutiar that has 80 hours of work on it? And that's just work time - we're not factoing in the cost of the raw materials and electronics.
Again awesome post man.
Here's a link that demonstrates how much work is still needed despite Ron using CNC machines. Hopefully it'll help counter ignorant bullshit.
Whoa nice catch Eric, I had totally forgotten Ron had put that together, been a long time since #30 came out!
I think some people who aren't familiar with CNC machines just assume that they are magical printers that spit out completely finished guitars.
The original point I was picking up on wasn't really on topic in any case, sorry if I took it OT. I wasn't talking about CNC machinery. Apologies for the confusion. What I meant was even if a router/bandsaw/jigsaw was set up perfectly, a human error still results in a balls-up, thus remaining (imo) a hand-building process.
Anyway, very good article. Great read for those who don't really understand the basic deal when it comes down to CNC processes.
I'd like to input as a totally by custom builder.
I worked for a known acoustic guitar brand when we did everything by hand as in CNC was just new! And we did not use it but I know now the factory is huge in CNC for production.
I then worked as a cabinet maker for 10 years in my own furniture manufacturing business competing with automated shops and I was literrally using hammers for the first few years!
One thing I learned is this and in no way am I against CNC OR Laser.
I can produce a custom guitar which has a carved top etc etc et in 2 days (less drying time for glues and finishes) ...with basic tools. This is if I use jigs (which can take a few days to make as like everything you have to do it right!)
And I can happily say that with GOOD jigs accuracy is not far off CNC. But this is working my butt off and running to a strict process line mentality. (just like a machine) But I don't like working like this I will usually take a week to do a single instrument as I do believe there are things like neck profiles, carved tops that shine when done to the individual customers wants and needs...
As an example I know I could beat a cnc doing a neck (not a fret board) profile. If you take into account that is a customer wanted a v shape at till the 5th fret then to a c then a d, I can profile that pretty quick where as a cnc will need to be programmed etc then set to run, then off it comes to be sanded etc. Vs me mark it up with a ruler and some jigs in hand and go for it and if the customer wants a bit taken off here or there I and do it in 10 minutes something a cnc doesn't have the ability to change for the individual mid build.
BUT this is after 15 odd years of working in my trade and loving what I do.
When i ran my furniture business I was doing everything by hand and had to compete with Chinese imports so I had to learn to speed up and get the quality up too as at that time the imports where all CNC cut and sold dirt cheap. I'VE COME BACK TO GUITARS BECAUSE I want to do what I love to do which is play guitar and my skills are with wood.
My OPINION is this.
you pay more for hand custom work (if it's good) because your paying for not lesser quality but those individual specs that are not cookie cutter.
Also your paying for skill sets that have taken years and years of practice to do well. to me if you can play a guitar and .0005" makes a difference good for you.
This guy's numbers for his hand-built times are really high...he's either slow as hell or exaggerating.
I donno.. aren't entirely hand made cars superior to something on an assembly line? /sarcasm
Of course, how stupid of me to forget that time = quality.
This was very informative and to hear from a high-end builder like that. Puts a lot into perspective. Still, even with all the utomation, there are a TON of hours needed to build a high quality axe. Maybe a small CNC is in the mix for me a few yrs from now...
i plan on using my cnc machine to do tasks where accuracy is of the utmost importance.
i will be using it to carve the outside shape, the neck pocket, pickup cavities, bridge mounting holes, neck mounting holes, control cavity, truss rod slot, fret slots, and fretboard radius.
neck carve and any body carve will still be done by hand. that way you get the handmade feeling, with cnc accuracy
It's a balance of utility and taste.
The CNC is a tool just like any other tool in the shop; it does a lot of things but it doesn't do everything itself.
I haven't integrated CNC yet, but even still, its based on the same drafts I use for making my templates. If you're careful in how you build your initial templates, the finished product is just as precise as off the CNC machine.
The only reason I'm pursuing integrating CNC into my setup is to cut down on the amount of time and MDF I use templating (typically 6 to 10 templates for one model), which ultimately saves money in the long term. I also burn through manufactured templates for things that need to be precise (ie: pickup routes, bridge routes) that aren't cheap and take weeks to arrive, or several hours and resources to make from scratch.
For me at this point, CNC is the next practical tool to streamline the workflow in the shop. It also doesn't hurt that I've been drafting guitar parts for ~10 years just for the sake of mockups and printed templates, and they transfer over to 3D fairly easy.
I've posted some bits and pieces of my work in this subforum before, though usually not much in depth. When I get back into the shop for a longer haul and get some time to cleanup, I should get some pics.
I'm glad to see some CNC use popping up on here because it definitely presents some alternatives for how you build/design and what goes into building your shop but it's still just "one way" of doing things, and it might not be a bad idea to post some of my "traditional building" methods as a reminder they're out there.
I've amassed a pretty decent shop over the years and I'm always buying stuff but the "traditional methods" I've used till now, you could probably pull off with a jig saw, a benchtop drill press and bits, and a router+basic bits. If you commit the time to templating your stuff carefully, it's not at all unusual to be able to go from blank to an unfinished body at or above the condition it comes out of the CNC machine in just a couple hours.
Thought the same, but that's mostly because he doesn't seem to be a pro in the paintshop. If the guy that paints my guitars needed 30 hours of working time for one finish, he'd have to charge me something between 1000 and 2000 bucks...