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Adding a figured top to a body with a forearm contour

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by awilkie84, Jan 11, 2013.


  1. awilkie84

    awilkie84

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2011
    Location:
    Nanaimo, BC, Canada
    So, I can find a LOT of threads about people adding forearm contours to guitars with figured tops, but I can't find any about people adding figured tops to a body with an existing forearm contour.

    You'd naturally have to plane down the top of the body, to add the top. My question is: What would be the requirements to make the figured top cover the forearm contour, too?

    Has anyone done this, or is anyone familiar with a HowTo that would be useful for this?
     
  2. 20YearNoob

    20YearNoob

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2012
    One way might be to use a thin veneer as a.top wood. I have seen luthiers bend thin veneers onto headstocks. It might be possible to glue one to your body then sand it smooth.

    I think if you planed the body contours out it would be very thin and you would need a thick top piece.
     
  3. Phendyr_Loon

    Phendyr_Loon

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2010
    If I understand your question correctly you're asking how to bend the top over the forearm contour?

    It can be done easily with a top 1/4" thick or less. I'd recommend dry fitting the top by clamping it to the body, (with no glue), and clamping the steamed or soaked corner of the top over the forearm contour. When the moisture dries out of that part of the top it should retain a bend which is close enough to easily clamp on with glue.
     
  4. preside

    preside

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2010
    Location:
    Scottsdale Az
    Um, I'm not a Luthier, but dont you want to rout out some thin channels on the back part of the laminate you want to bend then steam ?
     
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  6. awilkie84

    awilkie84

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2011
    Location:
    Nanaimo, BC, Canada
    I wouldn't want to plane out the contour. The planing would just be to remove the rounded edges, so the new top piece sits flat & can then be rounded. I think it would look better, this way.

    Would a 1/4" thick top be sturdy enough to go over top of existing body routes like a MIM P-bass with the ugly pickup-to-control cavity route? I'm trying to come up with a way to make the bass prettier & remove the need for a pickguard. I know I'd need to rear route the body, but that's ok.
     
  7. Phendyr_Loon

    Phendyr_Loon

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2010
    That would be a good idea. Relief cuts are necessary depending on how great the bend is and how easily the wood will bend naturally.
     
  8. Phendyr_Loon

    Phendyr_Loon

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2010
    I've done basses with rear routed controls and used a 3/16" thick top. 1/4" will be suitable and is a very common thickness for flat tops.
     
  9. awilkie84

    awilkie84

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2011
    Location:
    Nanaimo, BC, Canada
    Cool! Now to find a top I like.
    I've been told Fraser Valley Fine Woods is a good place to look in Canada for tops. Any other suggestions?
     
  10. Gabeja15

    Gabeja15

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2009
    Location:
    Brooklyn, New York
    if you are worried about the strength of the top over large body routes, i would suggest blocking and filling the routes before gluing the top on. after the routes are filled, you can either reroute the control cavity from the back or route a smaller one to your needs.
     
  11. awilkie84

    awilkie84

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2011
    Location:
    Nanaimo, BC, Canada
    Oh, the routes that need covering aren't huge. Just the typical channel that runs through a MIM body. I was just concerned that a 1/4" top might be too thin to even take a minor bump without piercing through.

    The body I'm using is similar to this, but with a bridge pickup route, too.
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Hopkins

    Hopkins Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2010
    Location:
    Houston Tx
    On both of these instruments, I cut the body, did the forearm relief then put the top on, both tops are a good 1/4" thick, and neither required relief cuts. I have an industrial steamer that I got from my mom (she used to own a custom drapery business).

    I use a good amount of steam, and slowly bend the board over by hand to preform it. Then I apply glue, and clamp it using a caul. Its not a difficult process, but I don't think you could pull it off with a regular steam iron. I have one of these

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Cney

    Cney

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2012
    Location:
    Breda, the Netherlands
    What kind of body wood are we talking here?

    If you are going to add a thicker top you could go full ****** and chamber the body.
    Sadowsky style.
     
  14. xaxxat

    xaxxat Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2008

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