The purpose of the cadjunkie tutorials is to take your passion to the next step and put to use the lessons learnt. Confirmed cadjunkie Andy Birko learned to model guitar necks via this tutorial and utilized this knowledge by making guitar necks that are super sexy. We hitched a ride with him and asked him a few questions about his process and other trivia. Of course he lost the thumb-fight but won our hearts with his good work!


We – What has the design process been so far, what are the features and aspects that you have implemented?

He – First step in the design process was to thoroughly investigate the market to see what sort of necks luthiers (makers of stringed instruments) are looking for. There are a couple of suppliers of necks for acoustic guitars out there but their offerings are limited to the most common dimensions of necks. Because I use SolidWorks to do my 3D modeling, I thought I’d use its powerful configuration management tools to allow me to provide custom dimensioned necks per the customer’s specifications.


Next was to review the neck drawing segments of the excellent CadJunkie tutorials on designing a flamenco guitar in SolidWorks. I’m pretty good with SolidWorks but have never had any formal training and Adam’s tutorials are fantastic. My degree is in engineering so I like his very formal approach to designing in his tutorials. My neck design is very close to his but I made a few changes to incorporate some of the features I deemed necessary a good selling neck.


We – What is your favorite tool, why?

He – Assuming you’re talking about CAD tools, I’m a fan of SolidWorks. As I mentioned, my background is engineering and I find it very easy to wrap my head around using a design tree to build a model and I really like the fact that with a fully defined model (assuming I do it right), it’s quite straight forward to change major design elements late in the process and have the model update and re-build correctly. I deal a lot with customer-supplied models and have received some done in more freeform modeling packages that were just unusable. You could see where they made mistakes and had to fill and re-cut etc. to fix something you’d fix in SolidWorks by rolling back the design tree and making the fix where it should be.

If you’re talking about non-software tools, I’d have to say like most engineers, duct tape and WD-40 are my favorites.


We – What has been the biggest challenge so far?

He – Speaking of rolling back design trees…..Once my model was complete I discovered something I wanted to make more flexible to be driven by the design table. To do so I had to re-do a feature in the middle of the design tree and that was pretty challenging. Took a lot of time to do correctly but in the end I do have it working!


We – How do you expect to proceed from here; what is the next step?

He – With the re-do of the feature I described, I now have to verify that everything is working correctly in my model and maybe do a few final tweaks to how that feature will be linked to the design table. Although I’ve created a preliminary design table, I now have to get that fully working in Microsoft Excel and that too will take a bit of time. I’ve already found a few alpha testers and I’m waiting for most of them to get back with their specs so that I can really exercise the model and make sure it holds together. Once that’s done – it’s time to cut some prototypes for my testers.


We – Do you play the guitar, if yes, then which is your song?

He – I do play guitar a bit but my playing isn’t so great. I’m much better at bass guitar, keyboard and my primary instrument (one which I build as well), the bandura. You can check out my blog on bandura building here.