Gallery 1

People love images. I do too. A picture is worth a thousand words. Here are picture galleries of the work in progress that I will be updating on a regular basis. Think of this as an annotated graphical synopsis of the project. People on the go, like me, will find it pleasurable to just scan through the images without having to peruse the details.

3D renderings

Here are a couple of 3D renderings of the dimension-accurate CAD model.

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Full view of the guitar

Full view of the guitar

The Body

The top is 4 layer carbon fiber (See Black Steel) with polished stainless steel binding. I’d like to start with a more conventional Strat-ish body design.

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Body Top

Body Top

Back View Showing Top Curve

Back View Showing Top Curve

The top has a slight curvature. The bottom is aggressively contoured for ergonomics and for easy access to the higher frets.

Contoured Bottom with Smooth Neck to Body Transition

Contoured Bottom with Smooth Neck to Body Transition

Neck-thru construction

The neck runs through the full length of the strings up to the bridge and string ferrules. This middle neck-thru piece is the most crucial part of the guitar.

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Neck-Thru Middle Section

Neck-Thru Middle Section

The Head and Fretboard

The fretboard has the same sandwiched carbon fiber-bamboo-carbon fiber construction. The fret position markers are back-lit with white LEDs with brightness adjustment.

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14 degree Head Angle

14 degree Head Angle

Head Back View

Head Back View

Bamboo Preparation

It all starts with a nice manufactured plank for the neck-thru middle section made of Bamboo interspersed with multiple layers of Carbon fiber laminated with high-grade epoxy.

Double Rip Cut

Selected Bamboo culms are sliced into straight strips 25 mm wide 1.2 meters long using a special double rip saw using two circular blades.

Bamboo strips

Lamination

The strips are grouped into 25 mm and 50 mm bundles, vertically oriented with their narrow edges facing up. 2 tonnes of pressure is applied while allowing the epoxy to cure using a small press constructed just for this purpose (picture below).

Laminating press

Laminated Bundles

A jig is utilized to cut a smooth surface, exactly 14 degrees, using a router. We get perfect scarf joints for the headstock.

Gluing the scarf joint

The final scarf joint —perfection!

Two outer 50 mm planks and one inner 25 mm plank with interleaved carbon fiber layers make up the central neck-thru construction.

View showing the 14 degree scarf joint

Neck-thru plank

Finally, we have a nice bamboo-carbon-fiber plank ready for routing and shaping! Yeah!

Now we are ready for routing

Carbon-Glass Truss Rod

Here’s the carbon-glass fiber truss rod. It’s very light at only 41 grams (a stainless steel rod of comparable dimensions weighs 127 grams). The rod is made of 4 layers + 4 layers of carbon fiber sandwiches 6 layers of fiber glass weave. The head is machined aluminum alloy with a stainless steel hex adjustment screw.

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Truss Rod Head

Truss Rod Tail (anchor)

Neck-Thru Construction

Following the basic premise that the essential factors that make an electric guitar is the neck, just enough body to allow a bridge and a tailpiece that anchors the strings, pickups, and of course the tuners, we’ll start with the middle neck-thru section. This is the most crucial part of the guitar and should be structurally sound and sonically excellent. In this section, we will walk through the process of actually shaping the material into our final neck-thru form.

Routing the body

Shaping the neck-body heel

Smoothing with a belt sander

Checking against profile template

Installing our new Carbon-Glass Truss Rod

Routing the truss channel

Aluminum reinforcement block

Gluing the anchor using structural epoxy

Truss-rod installed!

Routing the Body

For the body part of the neck-thru section, we will route the pickup cavities, the bridge height adjustment screws, the string ferrules where the strings pass through the body and the tail block —a piece of aluminum at the bottom that terminates the strings and where the ball-ends are anchored with easy access at the back. The body top also has a mild curvature which we will shape using yet another jig.

Curvature-shaping jig

Jig shaping the body top

Layout

Routing the pickup cavities

Drilling the top string ferrules. I love laser guided drills!

The tail block at the bottom

Wrapping the Neck-Thru

As a final step, the neck is wrapped in 4 layers of carbon fiber to ensure maximum rigidity.

Yet more layers of carbon fiber

Vacuum bagging the whole thing

Perfection! The CF-Bamboo Neck-Thru

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Perfect!

Compound Radius Fretboard

Our fretboard will have a compound radius —conical fretboards which start out with a smaller radius at the nut and gradually get flatter (bigger radius) towards the other end. The radii of the curvature starts at 304 mm (12″) and ends (at the 24th fret) at 456 mm (18″).

We sandwich the fretboard with 8 layers of carbon fiber laid up with laminating epoxy; 4 on top and another 4 at the bottom. The fretboard is vacuum bagged to remove excess resin and to ensure that there are no air pockets or bubbles that can ruin its sonic integrity.

Bamboo fretboard ready for layup

Bamboo fretboard sandwiched in between with another 4 layers on top

Vacuum bagged. Excess resin oozing out.

Slotted and trimmed

Gallery 2 next
People love images. I do too. A picture is worth a thousand words. Here are picture galleries of the work in progress that I will be updating on a regular basis. Think of this as an annotated graphical synopsis of the project. People on the go, like me, will find it pleasurable to just scan through the images without having to peruse the details.
Wayne Lerrigo says:

very elegant. Do you have drawings or more photos of the special laminating press you made?

Thank you, Wayne. I’ll see if I can dig up some photos. What is it exactly you are trying to do? Will you make bamboo planks? If so, what size?

Pornot Pongsiwasathi says:

Hello Mr.Joel,

Congratulations for the result of your hard work!

I love the idea of Bamboo+Carbon fibre laminate so much,

In my opinion carbon fibre is not easy to deal with.

(I just saw in the video.)

I'm bass player, designer and a luthier-wanna be.

I have many ideas and many thing that I want to build.

I have good skill in playing and service all of my guitar myself.

but sadly I didn't have any basics in the wood working,

Could you give me some advice the point to start 'BUILDING'?

Anyway, Thanks for sharing this.

Best regards,

Pornpot Pongsiwasathit

BKK Thailand.

Joel says:

Hi, Pornot. Thank you. Well, I suggest you join a forum for guitar builders such as http://www.projectguitar.com/ so you can get and share ideas from other guitar builders. Other than that, just take your passion and do it. The first try might not be perfect, but with due diligence, you will get better. Wood-working books will help a lot especially those explaining how to use power tools.

Good luck!

PAUL MANFRINI says:

Hi Joel, just curious, is this guitar available for purchase? Do you have plans to put it into production?

I have to say it's the most beautiful guitar I've ever seen.

Thanks.

Joel says:

Thank you very much, Paul. In case you haven't noticed yet, I've uploaded some pictures of the final prototype here: http://www.cycfi.com/2011/03/finally/

Yes, I intend to put this into production. I'll keep you informed. Thank you very much for our interest.