Hi everyone,

I do realize i posted a thread on this before but i didn't want to bump an old thread especially when the question is a little diferent.

So my Dad recently got a CNC machine and i was looking for 3d CAD (and CAM) softwares that will be able to design guitars. I want it to be easy and cheap (under $1000?) I think the best one i've found was Rhino3D or BobCAD.

does anyone have any more recommendations?

Rhino seems to be getting big lately, but you might be doing yourself a big favor by taking a class on it. You should be able to get it much cheaper with a student .edu email anyway.

I'v designed in google sketchup, and it's a really great program, especially for free. But in order to export to .dxf, you have to purchase the pro license.

What are you guys using for a tool path program? That's the most expensive thing there, and that might also determine what you'll be using to design, based on compatibility(I'm assuming. Don't quote me on that). I've used VCarve, and it's pretty easy to draw stuff up, but it's hardly a substitute for a CAD drawing program, unless you're making some pretty simple stuff. Worked great for a fretboard though.

Sorry I can't offer any better advice, I'm pretty inexperienced on the CNC.
Last edited by W4RP1G at Apr 17, 2013,
well my dad's doing kitchen cabinets so he just used 2d drawing but i'll probably get RhinoCAM with Rhino which i think does the toolpaths. Cut3D does too but the Aspire software is out of my range. any other recommendations will be helpful!
well my dad's doing kitchen cabinets so he just used 2d drawing but i'll probably get RhinoCAM with Rhino which i think does the toolpaths. Cut3D does too but the Aspire software is out of my range. any other recommendations will be helpful!

RhinoCAM is probably good if you're using Rhino3D to draw, but it is very expensive. I'm not sure what options are out there, but if you can find a much cheaper toolpath software that does what you need, then you might consider that. And if your local community college offers a class on Rhino, Rhino3D is only $200, which is a huge discount(and you'll learn a lot from the class).

VCarve is only $600, which makes it much cheaper than RhinoCAM's $1250 pricetag, but I think is more limited in what you can do. For instance, you can't do a carved top guitar body in VCarve pro, you'd need to upgrade to Aspire for that. However, there are tricks to get around that, which you will definitely learn to do if you get VCarve. And I can't speak for RhinoCAM, but VCarve is super easy to use and there is a lot that I like about it.

I don't really know anything about any other software though, so there might be better options out there.
I have BobCad and it will not only let you design, but allows you to post the machine code so it includes the CAM aspect. I bought mine a while back and got it on sale for $499. Like any design program, it took a lot of practice and time to learn how to use it. I still probably only use 15% of the potential this program has, but it works great and does everything that I've wanted it to do. I would recommend this program, however I have no experience with other design programs so I may be missing out on a lot and not even know it. As I said before, it took me a long time (since I have no formal education) to design my first guitar. To be honest it probably took me around 30 hours to design it since I pretty much taught myself how to work the program.
Is it wrong to be strong.... You decide.
ok sorry for ditching you guys but i downloaded the free version of rhino and have been enjoying it but i have questions about it too. (im not sure if ill get answers tho)

1. Anyone know how to do arch tops or carving? I can do belly cuts and arm rests but i dont know how to get it to go all the way around the guitar if that makes sense. For example an Ibanez RGD curve.

2. I insert a Backround bitmap and trace it. after i make the model, its probably about 8" tall so is there a way to change the dimensions for the whole model?

Thanks guys!
I don't have experience with Rhino, however when I do carved tops I make a wire frame. I start out with a basic 2D shape of the guitar body and then place "connection points" and then use a "spline" to connect them creating a nice flowing curve. When I place the connection points I do it by using coordinates and place like 40 different connection points. An example would be one point at X: 5.00, Y: 5.00, Z:0.25 and another connection point at the very center of the guitar body say at X:0.00, Y:8.75, Z:0.50. I would connect the center point to the other connection point and then finally to the body which would be at Z:0. This would give you a carved top with a thickness of 0.5 inches and you can move the connection points around to give yourself a steeper or more gradually curves. I have no idea if this is the best way, but that's how I've been doing it. Hopefully this will give you some guidance in the right direction. If you're like me and didn't obtain official education on how to use CAD then expect a lot a lot a lot of hours put in to understand how to do the things you want to do.
Is it wrong to be strong.... You decide.
I personally have used RhinoCAM with Rhinoceros 4 and it is not that bad if you can figure out the ****ing interface, it's just not very well laid (I know about that kind of stuff, I'm a designer).

It's not particullarilly hard to learn to use Rhino. A friend of mine gave me a manual for it after I took a few classes, and it really helped, since everyone was way more familiar with it than I was. If you want, I can give you a copy of it, just contact me if you get the software.
autodesk software is really good, you could probably get it with a educational license for about 3 years for free.
Quote by R45VT
Thanks for the Replies!

MG_Sora: Well i have the free version at the moment to see how i like it. Would you know how to do archtops and make a model a specific dimension.

Viban: I already tried Autodesk and i couldn't figure it out.

Any more help is always helpful!!
you could try to model the surface in a "mold" kind of way, as in milling a the face on a block of wood with enough of a surface so it can be held in place. Keep in mind this only applies if you have a 3 or more axis CNC machine. If not, you could do a few bi-dimensional layers, moving the routing bit a few millimeters or centimeters on the vertical axis by yourself, and then sanding away the excess. This can be accomplished by making the volume and then using the command 'contour' to get said layers of the arch-top. You'll see what I mean when you try it.

I hope I made myself clear, if not, I could draw you a diagram of either. Feel free to ask away, maybe I'll be able to help.
Jumped in at the deep end again, eh, James?

As I've already said, I don't know about Rhino specifically, so if MG_Sora is willing to lend you a hand then he's your best bet, but I'm guessing it's a feature based modelling system. As is often the case in life, when you're building a 3D CAD model there are many ways to go about it but one basic approach is to start off with a lump that is close to what you want and then start chopping bits off or adding bits on to make it how you want it. Here's an example of one of my models, and it hasn't even got anything complicated like a top carve on it. You can see all the features that make it up in the tree on the left.

So you might start with an extruded guitar outline and then start adding fillets, holes and chamfers. You may add more material in some places. You may create a surface by sweeping an edge profile along a shape or curve. Ponchibego has described another method, defining surfaces with points and splines. What you do will depend upon the tools available in your chosen CAD software, your ability to apply them, and the complexity of the end result you're aiming for.

There's definitely a knack to 3D modelling that goes beyond knowing how to use your software, and this will only come with practise and experience. But a really good start would be to look on the internet, and YouTube in particular, for Rhino Beginner Tutorials and start getting yourself familiar with your software. This will certainly help with questions like, "How do I make something a specific dimension?"

Keep having fun.