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How To: Finding the Center of a Body

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by teej, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    Like a total dummy, I forgot to find the center of my body blank and get all of the guide lines drawn before cutting it out. This is the first time I've done this, too, so I feel like a complete dunce. I think from now on, I'm going to start pre-routing the neck and pickup cavities before doing anything. What would I do, use a compass to draw a circle around the body, and get the center of that circle? Draw a line from the bottom-most point to the top-most point and find the center of that? Will those even work, or is there some other way that I don't know about?
  2. fookgub


    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    If you haven't routed the neck pocket and placed the bridge yet, then the centerline is wherever you want it to be. Mock it up with a neck and bridge and a draw a straight line that looks right.
  3. dblbass

    dblbass Commercial User

    Mar 24, 2007
    Beacon, NY
    Owner of MBJ guitars, Maker of fine sawdust for Carl Thompson Guitars
    im guessing its either a 1 piece or a 3 piece body blank that doesnt have a center line in the wood. on a one piece i cant help you there you might just have to wing it and find a line that looks good but on a 3 peice just find the center of the centerblock measuring from the other joints.

    i would suggest not routing the neck and pickup holes until you have the neck. when you get the neck find the center of it, line it up with the centerline of the body and put a ruler or other straight thing on either side of the neck. then center it up so that the entire neck is centered on the bass not just the last fret. than line the pickups up usiing the neck pocket as a guide point so the pickups aren't crooked.

    good luck

    joey k
  4. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    I finished rough-cutting the neck and routing the truss rod channel just before posting this thread. I'm using the truss rod, sticking out from the bottom of the neck (heel adjusted) as a straightedge to align it the best I can, and it's close. I'm just paranoid about having the neck off at an angle.

    And it's a one-piece. Well... technically it's a two-piece, but not in the traditional sense. The two pieces are sandwiched, with one piece glued atop the other. It's for a headless short-scale travel bass prototype. Rather than ordering a proper blank, I got two 1" thick poplar sheets from Home Depot.
  5. RLK


    Apr 15, 2006
    Clinton Township, MI
    Do you have the "negatives"?
    The wood pieces that were cut away when cutting the body shape?
    If so, You might be able to piece them back against the body to get close to your original "square-ness"

    I hope Wilser doesn't mind my using his pic as an example:

    That would definitely make it easier to find your center line.
  6. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    That was the first thing I tried, but when I cut the blank, I did a very rough cut and then a closer cut, so the negatives don't quite line up now. :meh: That would only work, though, if the drawn shape were centered on the blank, which mine wasn't.
  7. RLK


    Apr 15, 2006
    Clinton Township, MI
    Welllll- -

    On your design, are the "waist" and "hip" equal-distant from the center point?
    That's a tried-and-true trait on most conventional body designs.
    (see light green boxes in example)


    If they are equal distant, you can mark the half-way point of the waist,
    and the half-way point between the hips.
    Those half-way points should connect to get you close to a center line.
  8. teej


    Aug 19, 2004
    Sheffield, AL 35660
    I was working on this when I got your reply. I drew a triangle connecting the widest points (the hips) with the tallest point, by the neck pocket. I then found the midpoints of each side of the triangle and drew lines from those midpoints to the corner opposite the side. Two of these lines intersected at what I believed to be the center. I can't say the same for the third one. What I need is a framing square....

    EDIT: After a little more geometry, I've got the center line. Hips are equidistant, as is the waist. It's all gravy! :D

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