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Alembic Club » Miscellaneous » Archive: 2005 » Archive through November 21, 2005 » Cnc and alembic « Previous Next »

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Username: osoloco69

Post Number: 16
Registered: 9-2005
Posted on Wednesday, November 02, 2005 - 9:07 pm:   Edit Post

I would like to know if alembic uses cnc and if not why?
Intermediate Member
Username: hydrargyrum

Post Number: 159
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Thursday, November 03, 2005 - 7:15 am:   Edit Post

My father is a machinist who owns his own small shop with several cnc mills and a cnc lathe. He can shape metal to the ten thousandth of an inch, and the slightest temperature change can completely change the quality of production. Anyone who thinks that the same level of artistry cannot be achieved with these sorts of machines as with traditional hand tools is simply mistaken. All it requires is the same attention for detail and experience in your chosen craft.

All that being said, I suspect (but don't know for sure), that this is not the avenue Alembic chose. Although, the hardware is where I would most expect it to turn up. Perhaps someone knowledgable about the shop will chime in.
Senior Member
Username: 811952

Post Number: 550
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Thursday, November 03, 2005 - 7:56 am:   Edit Post

Would that make them the CNC Music Factory??? :-)
Username: ed_r

Post Number: 57
Registered: 10-2005
Posted on Thursday, November 03, 2005 - 9:30 am:   Edit Post

I betcha they have at least one CNC machine and probably mroe than that. They're useful for making brass parts, logos, inlays and pockets, backplates, pc boards for electronics, that sort of thing. A guitar isn't made up entirely of wood, after all. They might even slot their fretboards on one- couldn't tell you, never asked, but I do know companies that do .

And as someone who knows what goes into programming a CNC machinem, I can tell you there's at LEAST as much artistry and attention to detail and craftsmanship in gfetting it right with that tool as there is with getting it right with a hand tool. THe difference is in the risk/certainty scale- you can repeat countless times if you can do it on a CNC machine and they'll all b identical. You can repeat countless times by hand and they could all be different.

Truthfully, I don't care how the wood that's not an Alembic gets cut away from teh wood that IS the Alembic.;)
Username: mica

Post Number: 2732
Registered: 6-2000
Posted on Thursday, November 03, 2005 - 9:52 am:   Edit Post

We've been using NC machines since before CNC. In 1978 we rescued a Lagun NC mill from the local optical coating outfit. The motivation for its use was not to make more, but to make things more accurately. This machine made all the brass parts, fingerboards, and body routing. This was all before large companies like Fender or Gibson started to use this type of equipment.

For a few years, we used the punchtape. Later, my dad built a computer interface to replace the paper tape (which is rather delicate).

Now that machine, "NanCy," is doing just the brass work. We've got a new machine, "Woody," that is doing the fingerboard slotting and tapers, and the body routing. We also make fixtures and tools for other tasks around the shop.

We have an old page on our website that has a couple of pictures of some of our machines.

We don't use the CNC for shaping bodies. Setup takes time, and there is no advantage in the quanties we make.

We also don't use it for neck shaping. This is done completely by hand, since hands will be touching it in its natural life.
Senior Member
Username: bob

Post Number: 528
Registered: 11-2002
Posted on Thursday, November 03, 2005 - 10:19 am:   Edit Post

Here's an action shot of pickup routing.
Intermediate Member
Username: jetbass79

Post Number: 107
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Saturday, November 05, 2005 - 12:52 am:   Edit Post

Fender started using NC machines around 1975 or so....we can tell this by the fact that Fender bodies made from 1975 onwards don't have the pin router "birthmarks" that you would see on an instrument made before that. They only used the NC machines for routing as their contours were still done by hand since the countours were inconsistent from instrument to instrument.

I think it is best to have a balance between word done by hand and word done by a computer controlled device to get the best product's a yin/yang sort of thing and I appreciate that Alembic uses this kind of philosophy.

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