This walkthrough will show you the entire process of modifying a complete, fully-functional guitar in Fusion360. The process will be very similar for all Autodesk programs, and the principles will carry over to pretty much any other CAD program. With a little CAM work, you’ll be ready to carve your new guitar out with a 3-axis CNC machine.
The chosen guitar for this demonstration is a 1983 Gibson Flying V, but you’ll be able to work with any guitar model you like if you’re following along. The tools and principles are all the same. Since we won’t be using meshes/sculpting, the process is fairly easy to follow along with and uses very few tools.
If you’re familiar with the Loft and Filet tools, you’ll be very surprised at how easy it is to turn out a beautiful instrument. Most of the difficult work is done for you already when you’re using a template – and you’ll find plenty on this site to use.
Before we begin:
We are modeling a guitar meant for CNC carving, which means it’s a scale model and the process has taken into account the limitations of a 3-axis CNC machine. For the most part.
The channels between the cavities are left off of the model because it’s a 1-piece body and your router isn’t magically going to fit inside a cavity and have 360° of function with super long drill bits – that’s all obvious, I know.
The truss rod channel is also left off of the model because it’s quicker to do it by hand, assuming you’re not going to be routing both sides of the neck in the CNC machine. If you are, feel free to add it in – it’s a pretty simple rectangle channel that can use the dimensions of whichever rod you’re putting in (+.01″ for some wiggle room).
Finally, we get to the headstock. Your decision to use a scarf joint will require you to split the neck and headstock into two separate models (this guitar uses a 13° pitch for the headstock) if you’re going to create them separately and join them after CNCing.
However, you could use a single piece of stock for the entire neck by creating a scarf joint on the stock and homing your CNC machine accurately. You will have to drill the tuning machine holes manually afterward though, and you will want to carve the front-facing portion of the neck/headstock before carving the back.
There are many ways to model a guitar with CAD, this is just one of them.
This tutorial is a sort of continuation of the Fretboard Modeling walkthrough, which spent a little more time showing users how to use the tools. If you’re new to Fusion then you may need a little help finding them.
We are working entirely in Fusion360’s Model function (which can be selected at the top-left hand side of the screen). All of the tools in this tutorial are accessible through the Sketch, Create, and Modify menus. They are referenced by the same name you’ll find in the menus.
When you see the terms “Extrude” or “Press-Pull“, they are being used interchangeably here. There’s a few ways to get there:
- Click on a sketch body that you’d like to turn into a model body and press “E”.
- Control-Click on a sketch body and click the Press-Pull option in the quick menu.
- Click on a sketch body and go to the Create menu at the top and select the Extrude tool.
They will all take you to the same tool.
Part I: 2D to 3D
Part II: Hardware & Cavity Covers
Part III / IV / V: Fretboard Modeling
The fretboard-making process is covered in this article – videos for this model are still included here!
Part VI: Forming the Neck & Smoothing the Heel
Part VII: Headstock Transition
Now you’re ready to move on to the CAM process! But not before messing around with the render appearance options to get a better idea of what it might look like all carved out.