I am looking to get some feedback from my fellow guitar builders that are using some of the new small linear type CNC machines for neck and body production. I am building both neck-through body and bolt on neck guitars. I also want it to make my pick-guards and control plates. My shop is 800 sq. feet and so space is tight. I am building a total of 100 guitars and lap steels a year now. I need to increase my volume and make production more efficient. 

These listed below look to do the job and are designed for those with limited space. 

Online I found two companies so far. K2 CNC & Luthier Tool.

Bill Asher

Asher Guitars and Lap Steels

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Listed below are a few links that I've saved over the past few years: - search for musical instrument threads
Also check out Frank's shop tours of USA Custom guitars on

Not only is the machine an issue but there's the software side. The most inexpensive machines run from older PC's through the parallel port (Artsoft comes to mind). These are stepper motor driven machines (more than adequate for the precision needed for guitars). This is just the control portion that runs G-Code. You will also need CAD software to first design your parts in 3D, then CAM software to determine your tool paths (G-Code).

I have a used Panasonic cartesian robot that I picked up on e-bay for about $500 (600 x 400 x 100 mm). It has a Bosch Colt palm router attached to the end. It however uses its own proprietary language that I am already familiar with (it's similar to Denso robots control code). So I design in AutoCAD, and generate tool paths (3 point arcs) from this software, and manually enter the points into the machine. It's limited to 2.5D however (can't really do carved tops).

If longer cycle times are OK consider a smaller machine using slower feeds & speeds (load it in the morning, come back in a few hours with a finished piece) to save a few bucks. You pay a premium for the larger machines but the payback only comes from using it all the time.
I have a large cnc with the older PC controls that is just setting in side of the door. My son bought it at the compny he worked for and when they went bankrupt he bought it. I need to build a clean room for it in my shop. I have a 40x80 building so I have room and have 3 phase. power.

I have another machine and all the step motors to set it for CNC but not the brains!

I use this one all the time and I love it!

Hi Bill,
I just recently purchased a pcnc automation router. I had previously built my own and didn't want to do that again for various reasons. Check out the CNCzone. Unfortunately the company is having difficulties and I can't quite recommend them at the moment. The machine is 24 x 36 with a 5" Z axis. The size is nice. Most luthier typeguys over the last few years have gone with K2 although if I had the cash and space, I'd have gone with a technocnc. They are a bit pricey though. You may want to see what is out there in kit form.
Mac, Ron, and Marty,

Thanks for the advise, I will be looking into it all. I will be buying one this summer. I will post with what I end up.

All the best,

Bill Asher
Another machine which looks like it could do the job is the Romaxx at about $4500.00.
I am in the process of building a gantry router with a friends help, he builds pool cues and has built a handful of machines for what he does. I have a CNC lathe and CNC Taig mill. I have become totally obsessed with all things CNC. Good luck, its a ton of fun.
I see a few of you mentioned using PCNC Automation. I strongly advise against that. The company is a little more than "having difficulties". It is a flat out fraudulent company. Even when PCNC built routers, from what I've read, they're complete junk.

See more at:
Well as far as PCNC automation is concerned, I think it depends on who you talk to. Before I ordered mine, I asked 4 different owners how things were going. There were 3 positives and one negative. This was besides the endorsements that were on the website. As it turns out, some of the machines are bad, some OK, and some good. I guess it depends on what you want it to do and what you expect from a $3000 machine, and what you know about CNC. Cutting foam would result in better performance than cutting ebony. Mine is cutting carved tops and necks pretty accurately so far, not perfect by any means, but I hope to replace a few things or at least make some adjustments to improve things some more. Some guys got one that isn't put together properly and some are still waiting for delivery.......... As far as the rest of the story... I'm not gonna start anything, but that is why I suggested the reading of the CNCzone forum on them. I'm sort of hoping the owner will make good on all that is wrong so far but I'm not holding my breath at this point.
While we're on the topic of CNC / CAD / CAM, I just found an open source/free CAD design software, it can generate STL files.

Looks pretty damn good, especially for free....
LuthierTools CNC is an outstanding machine. Very high quality, well engineered and reasonably priced. A growing number of medium volume builders are using them. Contact Chris Klumper at Luthier Tools. I'm sure he will provide helpful references.


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