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Hi! Long time player, collector and dealer looking to start manufacturing jazz guitars.

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Archie
(@archie)
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31/07/2021 10:56 pm  

Hi Everyone. 

 

I've been a guitar player attempting jazz for some time. I've been a collector and dealer of Jazz Guitars for some time and I now want to put that skill and knowledge into making my own brand. 

I am looking to buy machinery to start production.

On this list will be:

1x Vacuum Press Machine (mould top and back plates)

1x CNC machine (jig work, body template and neck template + drilling and routing etc.)

1x Jointer (Thicknessing could be done on a cnc machine after jointing. Longer to do it on CNC but cheaper than buying thicknesser. Open to suggestions). 

1x Drum Sander (obvious reasons)

1x Luthier tools for fretting, set-up etc.. (hopefully not Stew Mac at their prices). 

 

I have no interest in carving top and bottom plates. This is a process that would take years to master. My interest is in making laminated jazz guitars. 

I realise this will be an investment of around 10-15k. I plan on buying the machinery mostly second hand where I can.

 

My first concern is bending the top and back plates for the bodies. It is my suspicion that current and previous guitar companies bend top and back plates using some sort of press. Not a vacuum press but a hydraulic/nematic press with a heated metal forma and perhaps steam injection?

 

I would very much like to have an in-depth discussion on pressing arched plates. I will start that thread in the appropriate section of the forum. 

 

As I have never built a guitar before I am sure this is going to be far more complicated than I imagine but with the right tools and help from experienced and friendly builders, It should be a rewarding experience. 

 

Thanks for reading and I look forwards to meeting you all.

 

Cheers.


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Russ
 Russ
(@russ)
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01/08/2021 5:15 am  

Welcome @archie. Let the journey begin. I'm not enough of an expert to be giving you any advice other than start off with Mark's Acoustic Build course to develop your skills first before you attempt any Archtop guitars. There is a lot of good advice around in this forum that will help you on your journey.  Darren King @darrenking at Bagpress is your expert for laminates and vaccum press. 

Cheers

Russ

🙏🎸🙂🎶

🗝️ "Life's what you make it"🗝️


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tv1
 tv1
(@tv101)
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01/08/2021 10:06 am  

Welcome @archie.

 

You might usefully have a chat with @darrenking ...

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk


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Rocknroller912
(@rocknroller912)
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01/08/2021 2:27 pm  

@archie

I agree with the others @darrenking is the person to chat with for vacuum machines and veneer sheets. 

Some people call me a tool, others are less complimentary. Tools being useful things.


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darrenking
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01/08/2021 3:24 pm  

Hi @archie and welcome to the most amazing guitar making forum in the world!

There is quite a lot to cover in your post and it may take a couple of replies to get though it all as I am at work today fixing my CNC router.

Firstly, are you planning on making laminated arch tops or gypsy jazz acoustics along the lines of the Maccaferri guitars? I can offer considerably more advice on the latter having built several of these myself but hopefully I can give you a steer on the machines and equipment required for either.

 Here are the bits that are easy for me to answer:

Not a vacuum press but a hydraulic/pneumatic press with a heated metal former and perhaps steam injection?

You would probably find that almost all industrially produced laminated components (including sides) will have been pressed in a hydraulic press with solid male/female moulds fitted with RF (radio frequency) plates essentially allowing the lay up to be microwaved once under pressure in order to cure the adhesive in less than a minute. There would be no need for steam injection, water is your enemy, avoid it as much as possible! You can achieve exactly the same thing (actually probably better) using a vacuum press and either CNC cut polystyrene moulds (for cold pressing) or solid MDF or plywood moulds if you want to reduce the cure time by fitting heater pads. This choice will be dictated by your anticipated production levels and how many other things you have got to do. ie there is no point producing your backs and sides at a rate of 20 sets per day if you can only produce two necks/fretboards per day. Do you see what I mean?

I would only ever recommend the use of a urea formaldehyde resin for laminating guitar components as this is an entirely chemical cure adhesive which doesn’t introduce water to the materials being pressed. Used cold, it can take 5-6 hours to fully cure, with low voltage heater pads you can get this down to around 30 minutes using the press cycle that I have developed which is 10 minutes of vacuum pressure only before turning on the heater pads. This ensures that the layers of veneer are really nicely squished together and conforming to the mould shape before the adhesive starts to cures.

With regard to your kit list I would say the following:

1x Vacuum Press Machine

Yup, I agree. We can discuss the various merits of flat bed table presses v bag based systems later. Either way, I can help you with this part of your workshop fit out.

1x CNC machine

Likely to be far and away the most expensive bit of kit you buy and therefore you should consider most carefully whether you would keep it busy enough to justify it's purchase and running costs. There are many companies, mine included, which can offer CNC machining services. If you do end up buying your own make sure that it has a controller compatible with Vectric VCarve/Aspire software (check Vectric's list of post processors) as this is by far the easiest, most intuitive and cost effective tool path generation software available.

1x Jointer

A nice 4" jointer can speed up certain processes but a lot can be achieved using a hand held router and a guide rail system or an inverted router mounted under a table.

1x Drum Sander (obvious reasons)

Very useful, although if you are laminating your backs and sides from 0.6mm veneer you won't need to calibrate this material. Thicker constructional veneers often have a rougher surface and benefit from sanding prior to laminating.

1x Luthier tools for fretting, set-up etc.. (hopefully not Stew Mac at their prices). 

Mark and Carol's shop has many goodies to look at and other forum members will be happy to give you advice on any other tools or bits of kit you may need.

My first concern is bending the top and back plates for the bodies.

The experimentation that I have done into pressing 335 fronts/backs was done using two layers of 1.2mm maple veneer with two cross grain layers of 1.2mm poplar in between. You will find that it is far easier to press the material down into a hollow mould rather than forming it over positively shaped mould.

As I have never built a guitar before I am sure this is going to be far more complicated than I imagine

I can't comment on the limits of your imagination but I think that you will find that if you try to understand every single step before you take the first then you will never even start!. That is the beauty of Mark's courses, they break the entire process into many easy steps and allow you undertake each as a separate stage of production. You can jump forward a little bit, or go back and review a previous stage again but the courses are designed to help people who have never built a guitar, exactly like yourself, to achieve their ambitions.

I'm going to post this now before it becomes too long but please come back to me if you have any questions. If you haven't already watched the laminating masterclass that I filmed with Mark then I suggest you have a look at this. There is also a YouTube video that I shot in my own demo studio showing the process of laminating Maccaferri sides using the vacuum press and moulds fitted with heater pads.

Also, if you are anywhere near Letchworth at any time, please contact me and you will be welcome to pop in.

Regards

Darren

 

 

 


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Archie
(@archie)
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01/08/2021 6:54 pm  

Hi Russ.

 

Thank you. 


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Archie
(@archie)
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01/08/2021 6:54 pm  

Hi Tv1

 

Thank you. 


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Archie
(@archie)
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01/08/2021 7:16 pm  

Hi Darren. 

 

Thanks for your detailed response. 

I want to make Jazz guitars in the style of the classic Gibson's and Guild's so arched top and back plates will be needed. 

I think the best thing for me to do is contact you in person.

For the interest of adding content here, I have concerns about vacuuming pressing arched plates for several reasons. 

1) The process can cause the veneers to wrinkle as they are formed over the arch. This could be a speed issue, a veneer choice issue (wood type, thickness) or an issue regarding some parts of veneer being compressed before another part, thus creating a crease in the veneers.

2) The amount of arching/figuring is less to avoid this issue.

Another thing I'm interested in, is can you mold sides (ribs) in a vacuum press? I've seen you attempt it but the video didn't seem clear on how easy or effective it is, given an Archtop guitar has more acute curves in the cutaway (the gypsy style being more straight after an acute curve). 

In regards to a jointer, I want to get one anyway for other wood working projects and a 6 inch one is not too expensive. A lot of these machines can be bought second hand and if they're not used, I can sell them on for the price I paid. 

A cnc machine would be the thing I would use to make the necks, the headstocks and do the drilling jobs. I would also use to make jigs, carve the forma's for the plates and make the templates and parts for construction. 

If it's ok I'll drop you a line tomorrow and we chat in more detail. 

Good luck repairing your CNC machine. Sounds like fun 

 

 


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darrenking
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01/08/2021 9:50 pm  

1) The process can cause the veneers to wrinkle as they are formed over the arch.

Hi Archie, is this from experience or from that imagination of yours? The degree of compound curvature required to form fronts/backs of an arch top guitar is well within the limitations of the materials you will be using. If they were going to wrinkle a hydraulic press wouldn’t stop this, it would just crush the wrinkles and this really would not look attractive!

You can find Bagpress on line, just give me ring hut preferably not tomorrow, unless it’s urgent, as my PA isn’t in and I have a lot of jobs to get underway. Email me whenever you like.

Where are you based?

Cheers

Darren


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Koendb
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01/08/2021 10:10 pm  

@archie Welcome to this awesome community! I see you are already in the good hands of @darrenking
Good luck in your endeavors 🙂


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