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Belly Contours....

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by SimplemanBB450, Mar 22, 2010.

  1. Looking for alittle advise on what tools were used to make these body modifications. I am in the process of building my first bass and right now it has the typical "Tele" body, square edges and all. I would like to make a belly contour but not sure what has been the most effective way of accomplishing it. Do you sand in the area you want down to what suits your needs or have people "filed" the area out first then sand down to a smooth finish? Your input is greatly appreciated.

    P.S: Pixs will be displayed soon of progress...
  2. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    There's a few way that this can be done, but it all depends on what tools you have on hand. another key is to know exactly where your strap buttons will be located too and where you believe the body will sit on you. You can use a band saw (that is, if you have the height to do it), you could use an angle grinder (with either a "lancealot" of flap wheel), or you could just file it (with a farrier's file, shinto,or the ilk).
  3. saw a cool video on youtube once of the G&L facility where they used a small angled sled to rest the body one while passed it by the band saw, perfect belly cuts every time.
  4. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    while I don't recommend this method for those who have minimal hand-tool skills, it is the method I currently use none the less ....


    I use a small angle grinder with a 'blade' made of chainsaw chain to carefully rough cut the tummy cutout. I can do an entire tummy contour roughing in about two minutes, and then clean it up with a spokeshave followed by sandpaper on a contoured sanding block

    here's that same body with a 2-tone vintage burst applied


    all the best,

  5. Surforms, rasps, files, sandpaper. It's pretty astounding (to newbies like me) how easily you can shape hard wood with these hand tools. Like a hot knife through butter.

    Always remember - easy does it - a little at a time - measure twice (or three or four times) and cut once. I'll be doing my belly contour soon - looking forward to it!
  6. mikeyswood

    mikeyswood Inactive

    Jul 22, 2007
    Cincinnati OH
    Luthier of Michael Wayne Instruments
    I use the end of my stationary belt sander and have at it.
  7. Musiclogic

    Musiclogic Commercial User

    Aug 6, 2005
    Southwest Michigan
    Owner/Builder: HJC Customs USA, The Cool Lute, C G O
    Microplanes for the beginner, $30 worth will make quick work of the shaping and get you to a nice sandable place. I have a router jig I use but it's really cheap and easy with hand tools also.
  8. Dream Weaver

    Dream Weaver

    Jul 11, 2009
    I really like Microplanes. Cheap and they have an assortment of shapes/size, all with fine/coarse varieties. Previously I used a cheap Harbor Freight belt file, $30 or so, and it sort of worked... I found it hard to control for lighter removal, so that was what drove me to use hand tools insead. I used the same Microplanes for my most recent necks too. Just my personal preference. Although I'm tempted to try that bandsaw idea.
  9. I've used a compass plane, cabinet scraper, microplanes, rasps&files, and sandpaper. Really anything that removes wood at a reasonable rate will work. :p
  10. me too.
  11. i imagine an octopus with all those tools...
  12. I wish, productivity and efficiency would improve dramatically!
  13. stevetx19


    Sep 28, 2006
    Denton, Texas
    i've been doing mine with a spokeshave. I'm sure there are more effective tools for the job(angle grinder) but, in my experience, few tools provide as much satisfaction as a spokeshave.
  14. Getaway Driver

    Getaway Driver

    May 31, 2009
    Omaha, NE
    I picked up a pair of microplanes to do most of the shaping on my bass. Between them and liberal use of a bandsaw and router, I figure most of the work will be possible. Sure, doing an entire neck with a microplane could turn out to be a whole lot more work than with a shaper bit (like Wal does it) or a spokeshave, but I like the control I have for the first time. It'll be a test in patience.
  15. I did virtually my entire neck with a surform. The dangerous thing is underestimating how easy it is to remove a lot of wood with that tool! For me, the hands-on nature of tools like micro planes, files, rasps, surforms, et al. is where the best part. It really feels 'hand made' when most of your tools are hand tools.
  16. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    Where do you get your ash from?
  17. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    On the back contour I've used a Surform combo file/plane with a half round blade for roughing and sandpaper to smooth. Front contour starts with a flat Surform blade.
  18. Rodent

    Rodent A Killer Pickup Line™ Commercial User

    Dec 20, 2004
    Upper Left Corner (Seattle)
    Player-Builder-Founder: Honey Badger Pickups & Regenerate Guitar Works
    that specific piece came from a local hardwoods supplier, but other 1-piece body blanks I have in the wood rack have mostly come from Gallery Hardwoods in Oregon; I also have one from Exotic Woods in New Jersey

    all the best,

  19. HogieWan


    Feb 4, 2008
    Lafayette, LA
    I have a one-piece blank I got from somewhere online for a great price, and while I like the grain pattern, those big swirls are gorgeous!
  20. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Dec 3, 2020

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