CNC vs. all handmade

Discussion in 'The Small Company Luthiers' started by tms13pin, Jun 5, 2005.

  1. big mike

    big mike Plexi Loving Admin Staff Member

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    Sorry, I have my issues about living here.

    Cost of living and expenses are somewhat ludacris here in California.
    Completely out of control.
     
  2. Diablo

    Diablo Member

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    I'm in Fort Worth Texas. We passed Las Vegas up as the fastest growing city in America. Real estate is getting out of hand here. A little house that looks like 120K is over 400,000! I had an overhead of around $3500 to as much as $6000 a month for 5 years depending on what extras I had coming in each month. Now that the Haas is paid off and some of the other tools, it's not so bad.

    Gathering change up for lunch is something I remember quite well. I remember a few years ago, a period of 6 months with my car broken and having to walk to lunch each day. That had to stop when June hit and it was 100+ each day. By the time you got somewhere to eat, you would be so hot and sweaty that you weren't hungry anymore. Then walk back and get hungry again. That wasn't fun. Getting all of these high end tools though was really tough. I have most of the toys now so it's not bad anymore. Just need to get this huge backlog done.
     
  3. fyler

    fyler Member

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    wow. move to st. louis. my rent is $285 a month.

    no joke.
     
  4. JoeB63

    JoeB63 Supporting Member

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    Yeah, but you live in St. Louis.

    ;)
     
  5. John Hurtt

    John Hurtt Silver Supporting Member

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    Ok, that was stinkin' funny! :D

    Great thread and I'd like to give my thanks to all the manufacturers that have shared some insight ot this. I will say when I pick up my Thorn, it's stunning as both a musical instrument and a work of art.

    As an aside, I have to agree that California real estate prices are ridiculously out of control. I live in the San Joaquin Valley, just over the Altamont pass from the Bay Area. I bought my house nine years ago for about $165,000. Similar houses in my neighborhood routinely sell for over $600,000 today.

    I'm thinking of selling out and moving to St. Louis myself! :eek: :D
     
  6. pesocaster

    pesocaster Member

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  7. NickVig

    NickVig Member

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    Just got back from Baby's...
    cool thread!! nice to see all the different builders chiming in.:dude
     
  8. scott

    scott Supporting Member

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    Wow, Ron has it all down to the last hour. Nice going. I haven’t totalled all my hours on the guitars.....well....because im afraid to find out exactly how much Im making. Im not driving a Ferrari yet thats all I know.:)
    Now that I have a CNC I will never go back. Its ridiculous to do the grunt work by hand when there is no need for it. I know I can carve a top by hand over and over , or rout a chamber in a semi hollowbody,but why waste the time. Time that could be better used obsessing about the details like, fretwork, finishing and setups. Its a no brainer if you ask me. Also the accuracy cant be matched. I would much rather have fretboards made on a CNC. everything is cleaner and more accurate all across the board.
    Its amazing the misconceptions people have. I once had a dealer call me that thought I did everything by hand. I went on to tell him that I am now doing lots of it with a CNC. That pretty much wrapped up the conversation. He said, "at your prices I would expect everything to be done by hand. Nobody wants to pay top dollar for a guitar that only costs you $100 to make." ????? I WISH!!! I still wouldnt be driving a Ferrari but Id be way better off. It was futile to explain that the guitars being made now are even cleaner than the ones I was making just a few years ago.
    CNCs dont sand bodies, they dont spray finish, they dont wet sand, lay frets, level and crown frets, they dont sand bodies, they dont buff the finish, they dont wire guitars, setup guitars, they dont rough mill wood to dimensions, stain maple, .........ect. I could go on all day.
    When I got my CNC it was not to save time but to make the construction of the guitars as accurate and clean as possible. Precision is the name of the game here.
    In BC I have had the pleasure of meeting many old native artists that make wicked masks and carvings. Most of them were using chainsaws and power tools. Ive asked a few why they didnt do it old school with hand tools. All of them said the same thing ....... if the old timers had chainsaws they wouldnt have used axes made out of rocks!!.......Duhh.

    www.heatleyguitars.com
     
  9. larrylover

    larrylover Member

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    There you have it! I'd pay big money for CNC's too. Guitars made without the bitching!
     
  10. Saul Koll

    Saul Koll Member

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    Well said, Scott.
    One other thing: CNC equipment does not design guitars.


    cheers!

    saul

    (1986 Volvo wagon.)
     
  11. scott

    scott Supporting Member

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  12. MOJO

    MOJO Member

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    i'll bet i can quess who this quote was from:rolleyes:
     
  13. raz

    raz Member

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    I just got this mental picture of Stradavari coming back from the dead and encountering one of his instruments that just sold for whatever ungodly amount. "For that one?" says he. "But that one was a piece of sh*t!!"

    R
    A
    Z
    (Who is probably a bit tetched still, owing to my first encounter with a Koll guitar last weekend. Stunning. Lovely.)
     
  14. scott

    scott Supporting Member

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    Not who you might think MOJO. This wasnt that long ago, the guy spoke the same language tho.
    A few dealers have phoned me with the same type of attitude. I wondered if they were assosiated with you know who.


    www.heatleyguitars.com
     
  15. JDJ

    JDJ Member

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    Archive this one, Scotty! :BEER
     
  16. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Member

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    +1 and +1 again, Saul!



    (1987 VW)
     
  17. Saul Koll

    Saul Koll Member

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    Dang! Some us luthiers are rolling in some skanky ass old cars. We need to get them robots to work it harder!
     
  18. aleclee

    aleclee TGP Tech Wrangler Staff Member

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    we're not archiving anymore 'cause we don't delete posts outside the emporia anymore
     
  19. daveS

    daveS lefty dude on hiatus Gold Supporting Member

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    Ron, Saul, Joe, Scott . . .and all the rest. Thanks for this post . . really interesting stuff. Coolness.

    I really don't know jack . . . but having messed around with machining some alloys in college and at the model shop at past companies (aluminum, brass ,stainless), I always thought a CNC was the best machine shop invention since the vernier calipers :) . Plus, it's more fun to watch a robot, like a Hass or a Fadal, mill parts than it is to watch an old Bridgeport hackin' away.

    Questions:

    -Is the learning curve for programming a CNC pretty steep ? And how do you get the data from CAD station to the CNC ?

    -For you guys who machine tremelos, bridges and saddles (steel & brass) . . . do you have flood cool your parts or is that not necessary ?

    Just curious.

    Cheers,
    -d
     
  20. David Myka

    David Myka Member

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    I guess I am one of the minority of non-CNC builders here who does all of my work by hand (by which I mean I operate the tools directly with my hands as opposed to automating it with a computer). I do have a pantograph router that I built for roughing out the tops of my guitars which saves me a good amount of time but it does still need to be operated by me. I do build jigs to guide the tools I use and these are designed to be as universal as possible so that, for example, I can route the neck pocket for any size and taper neck into any body style of any thickness and at any angle all with the same jig. I cut my scarf joints on the headstocks with a japanese saw and true up the surfaces with a hand plane. It is very pleasing work to do and is quicker than setting up a table saw for the task (which is a good thing since I don't own one yet).

    The main reason I choose to remain hand bulder is due to my personal approach to building guitars. I build my solidbody electric and hollowbody guitars using the same principles that I use to build my acoustics. Essentially tap tuning the bodies, necks, and tops to determine the best mix of tonewoods to fit the guitar I am building. To get the required tones out of these woods some tops need to be thicker or thinner in areas and some bodies may need to be voiced through chambering. While this may be easier to grasp in reference to an acoustic or hollowbody guitar I do the same with the maple topped solidbodies. The top carve can make a huge difference in the response and overall tonal balance of the guitar. Some maple tops ring like a bell and some don't. If there is a heavy bass response that is out of balance I may want to use the dampening qualities of the maple and make it thicker in the bass area (generally the area behind the bridge). On a hollowbody I may want to thin out the edges more to open up the treble. I haven't yet conceived of an approriate algorithm that would effectively produce these results that does not depend on my personal favorite feedback device: my ears.

    Altering the top carve also affects the neck angle (or height above the body) and/or the bridge height so all of this has to be adjusted on an individual guitar basis. The adjustable jigs I use are very flexible to accommodate these design variations adn woudl be difficult at best to program in CAD. For what I want to achieve it would be a compromise build to dimensional tolerances when 1/8 of an inch can be too much when finding the resonant sweet spot through chambering.

    Having said all that I could certianly make use of a CNC router if I had one. I would put it to good use by having it do the more repetitive routing tasks like those already mentioned by the other CNC builders. I use my duplicarver to rough carve my tops oversize so I can voice them by hand. There is no other way to achieve what I do. If I had a CNC I would also use it to rough carve the tops. It would replace my pickups routing jigs and my fret saw without a doubt. But I would never hand over the most important task of voicing a guitar to a machine that doesn't know the differnece between a resonant, sweet tone and plate distortion. Both qualities have their place when building for a specific tone but building to dimension does not account for the subtleties that occur in music. This is where the human machine is superior.
     

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