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Trimming the Achiles heel...

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Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:36 am

My adjustable neck design requires a small gap between the edges of the heel and the mortise into which is fits. I was concerned that this may seem unsightly to many so I started trimming around the heel. I feel this decorates the area nicely and makes the small gap less noticeable.
noce 7.PNG

But I haven't done a cutaway with this detail and I'm having a difficult time figuring out how I'm going to pull it off.
I drew up some pictures to try to illustrate what the problem is, what I'm trying to do, and some possible solutions. Please excuse the crudity. these are not necessarily to scale. Also, please ignore the fretwork, obviously I haven't had time to level and dress them yet.
cutaway detail 1.png

this is a view of the headblock if you could see through the sides
cutaway detail 2.png

cutaway detail 3.png

cutaway detail  4.png

this looks okay, but I'd really like to be able to dress up around the heel.

to be continued...
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Re: Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:44 am

cutaway detail 5.png

So, this is one idea. Basically I do the same thing I do on the non-cutaways but I continue the line all the way up the heel and around the corner as the cutaway begins. I think it looks nice in a drawing, but I'm not sure how it will translate in real life. Also I'm concerned about the difficulty in execution. Seems like a lot of angels, bevels and miters that have to be done just perfect.

cutaway detail 6.png

This idea seems a lot easier to pull off.. but I'm afraid it might be just too much binding material and would really stick out like a sore thumb.

I welcome your questions, comments, suggestions and ridicule.
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Re: Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Brian Evans » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:15 pm

I would think about making the neck heel square rather than tapered so that it matches the line of the cutaway as it joins the side. I have never liked how a tapered heel fits onto a cutaway as your does, compared to how an archtop usually handles that. You could then decorate the edges of the neck block to match the binding of the sides.
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Re: Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Rodger Knox » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:30 pm

Ryan Mazzocco wrote:So, this is one idea. Basically I do the same thing I do on the non-cutaways but I continue the line all the way up the heel and around the corner as the cutaway begins. I think it looks nice in a drawing, but I'm not sure how it will translate in real life. Also I'm concerned about the difficulty in execution. Seems like a lot of angels, bevels and miters that have to be done just perfect.
I welcome your questions, comments, suggestions and ridicule.


Why not warp the side a little at the bottom so that it follows the taper of the heel? It could not be flush, but it could be a uniform offset.
A man hears what he wants to hear, and disreguards the rest. Paul Simon
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Re: Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Bryan Bear » Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:00 pm

I don't think the first one will look quite right in 3 dimensions. Try a mock-up of that section in 3D (you could even just use tape and paper and markers. That will also help you wrap your brain around how you would need to cut the pieces to pull it off.

The second one doesn't look quite right to me either for the reason you stated. I wonder what it would look like if you treated it as if the corner was bound kind of like a point block. It's hard for me to explain what I mean. Picture a section of binding on either side of the point with purfling on both inside surfaces mitered into the top and back binding. You would see a wedge of side wood near the bottom of the heel. The heel would look like it was sitting on top of the binding. That may not give you the effect you are after either.

Another option to consider wold be adding the dark light purfling lines on the neck heel side of the bindings also. That would help to hide the neck joint and you could probably get away with your second option above by having the purfling lines follow the heel up into the outer lines on the cutaway side leaving that big area of maple *edit* more integrated into the whole look.
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Re: Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Bryan Bear » Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:11 pm

Something like this. The rendering is crude and you would have to figure out exactly how you would handle the purfling lines at the ends (I don't think I have quite got that right). The other, non-cutaway side would have the purfling lines on the heel side too. . .
ryanscutaway1.png
ryanscutaway1.png (109.64 KiB) Viewed 2106 times
PMoMC

Take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you.
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Re: Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:41 pm

I'm thinking maybe this. I like some of the suggestions and I've thought about doing the square heel or the warped side with the tapered heel, but either way the side has to stick out past the neck a bit anyway. So, if I just bump it out away from the neck then I don't really have to change the way I do anything else. I'm not sure how much of an annoyance it would be to have the side sticking out that quarter inch or so below the neck when playing, but a quick google image search shows a LOT of cutaway guitars that sick out in this same fashion.

cutaway detail  7.PNG
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Re: Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Bryan Bear » Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:38 pm

The only issue with what you show in the most recent image is that you will have endgrain from the side showing on one side or the other unless you miter the two sides together. That would be a long endgrain miter but you could probably pull it of fairly easily if you first established the edge angle of the cutaway section and attached it to the heel block. The next peice (the one on the heel side) would be very small. You could get your trial and error fit there using as many short scraps of side cutoff as you need.

Other than that, I think it looks nice.
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Re: Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Randolph Rhett » Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:32 pm

You could use a straight heel, like you commonly see on cutaway archtops.
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Re: Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Ryan Mazzocco » Thu Jul 28, 2016 1:28 am

Bryan Bear wrote:That would be a long endgrain miter but you could probably pull it of fairly easily if you first established the edge angle of the cutaway section and attached it to the heel block.

That's how I've done it. Just a long miter without any binding.
I'm open to new ideas of course, but so far this seems to be the least of all the evils.
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Re: Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Steven Smith » Fri Jul 29, 2016 2:45 pm

Ryan just FYI but here's one that has a Doolin-type adjustable neck in a pocket. If you cut the pocket carefully it just looks like a regular neck joint. After 7 years and lots of inspections (I play out weekly) not one person has ever noticed the neck joint or the floating fretboard except for a few luthiers.

I have given a lot of thought to how I would do an adjustable neck on a cutaway and to be honest I have not come up with a satisfactory solution. To date all of my cutaways have a bolt on nect.

Port.jpg
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Re: Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Randolph Rhett » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:42 am

I've done a few with inset necks. With a little care they are nearly invisible. In fact, they look like perfect gapless neck joints. The reason is that most people see the neck join from the sides. There is never a gap because the neck is inset. You may see gaps if you look at the heel head on, but unless you are inspecting the guitar you don't really ever see it from that angle.

I've been building archtops exclusively for the last half dozen years, so I don't so this anymore. But I like the effect so much that I would consider insetting a neck even if I wasn't doing an adjustable one.
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Re: Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Randolph Rhett » Sat Jul 30, 2016 11:46 am

I should add that I consider adding contrasting trim around the heel of an inset neck to be a screaming yellow sign saying, "INSPECT HERE!" I would not trim it, but if you must trim it dark.
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Re: Trimming the Achiles heel...

Postby Dennis Duross » Sun Jul 31, 2016 9:13 am

It doesn't help you solve your problem, but I'm going to agree with Randolph and say that I would not trim around the heel with light-colored wood. Not that you haven't done a nice job of it, and it certainly looks good, but if you're concerned at all about the gap being noticeable, the light-colored wood to my eye makes it easier to see.
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