German Carve

Setup, repair and restoration of Rickenbacker Instruments

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German Carve

Postby (Dom) » Wed Mar 14, 2018 3:54 am

I’m a sucker for the German Carve. Different techniques & tools are used to achieve the look on various models. The 381 is the most familiar (looks the best imho) and the carve can be done with a panel cove router bit, but it lacks the concave “scoop” of the early combos. That “scoop” was likely created by hand with a spoon plane. The Carve differs between the Combo 6/800 to 6/850’s. The 800 has a routed edge that is lower than the top then the scooped carve. The 325 Polynesian however is what really gets me thinking...because it is a semi hollow body with a ramp. I just so happen to have something in that same shape...& with check binding. Yes, I am tempted to put a German Carve on my project 350 so I’m going to practice with the spoon plane on the original back which can’t be reused. If the results are acceptable then this might be the first 350 with a carve. :twisted:
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Re: German Carve

Postby (wim) » Wed Mar 14, 2018 8:09 am

I'm thinking that the 350 top and sides are too thin to carve that way.
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Re: German Carve

Postby (Dom) » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:02 pm

This carve would be most like the one on the 325 Polynesian which looks pretty shallow. Looking at a picture of the carve near the ramp...depth isn’t going to be as tough as getting the carve cut evenly so it can reflect light right. Already thinking about a jig to block off the binding so the plane cuts in just one area.
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Re: German Carve

Postby (wim) » Thu Mar 15, 2018 5:35 am

The only 350 with checkered binding I'm aware of is the Susanna Hoffs model.
If it is that model, don't carve in it. Sell it and get 2 regular 350 models with the money.
Still, you should first check out pictures of the routing on the inside of these bodies.
You will see what I mean
The top is not everywhere as thick as it is where the ramp is
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Re: German Carve

Postby (electrofaro) » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:28 pm

Isnt the polynesian 325 thicker bodied than the 325/350 of the later years?
'75 430 JG || '98 360 MG || '03 360 SCW || '04 650C BG
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Re: German Carve

Postby (Dom) » Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:20 am

The 350 in question is the left over body from Len’s Jackson Browne guitar. The back is off, no neck is attached & I did check binding. The top is 9mm, not much wiggle room but there is hope. This carve will not need to be as deep as my carve will start further in due to the binding. The whole trick is to carve a parabola...which is a parabola no matter how deep. The end carve might not be much wider than a fingertip and maybe 3mm deep. This is also why I’m going to practice on the back which is unusable.
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Re: German Carve

Postby (Dom) » Fri Mar 16, 2018 2:47 am

...of course I could screw the whole thing up & invent the German carve F hole :lol: :roll:
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Re: German Carve

Postby (lewilson) » Wed May 02, 2018 4:15 am

I did one with a sharpened spoon and some other handwork with sandpaper .
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Re: German Carve

Postby (Dom) » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:56 am

I started my test subject...another fake combo. I should get back on the horseshoe hunt. This time a full scale 24 fret 850. I’ve done the basic carve freehand with a gooseneck card scraper. This would be much easier & cleaner to do on dense grain maple...this thing feels like basswood...fibrous. Your burr better be sharp or it tears up. Just a couple mills depth gets the effect. I might hit up a thrift store for a spoon with the right curved point to sharpen.
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Re: German Carve

Postby (Dom) » Wed Aug 01, 2018 2:59 am

lewilson wrote:I did one with a sharpened spoon and some other handwork with sandpaper .


I’d love to see that. Is it the one in your profile picture? Because...!
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Re: German Carve

Postby (Dom) » Wed Aug 01, 2018 3:44 am

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Re: German Carve

Postby (jps) » Wed Aug 01, 2018 9:20 am

(Insert famous quote here)
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Re: German Carve

Postby (Dom) » Fri Aug 03, 2018 8:51 pm

Hi Jeffrey! They might...the shape of the blade is what matters but those might be a bit too big for the job. Lots of curves to negotiate. https://www.woodworkingshop.com/productimages.aspx?item=BH20186&seq=1
I used the small end of one like this. Wear gloves. It cuts maple cleanly & leaves a finished surface. Hard to do with this mystery wood. Freehand is doable but I’m considering clamping a straightedge to it so the carve is the same distance from the edge as it gets deeper. Going to use sandpaper on a short length of dowel to get it uniform. Having a light that provides some shadow & contrast as you carve is crucial.
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Re: German Carve

Postby (Dom) » Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:29 am

Sooooooo, now I’m officially committed to seeing this one through. Having survived the holidays, I found a moment & tackled a bit more carving. The scoop is now more uniform & it is looking far better overall. I still need to lower the edge a tad like my last one rather than only scooped. I tried a full size neck on the other one, so I will have a 24 fret pseudo combo. All in all I see a light at the end of the tunnel. I was going to paint it royal turquoise & swap the no-shoe into my chrome 4003 surround. That prompted one of my periodic fruitless & demoralizing searches for any 6 pole horseshoe I could remotely afford. Oh no, it can’t be... this time I actually found one. A rusty 1 1/2” from ca 1936 & rewound & wax potted by Fralin. A bit of redesign for the wider pickup, glad I haven’t routed it yet. I also need to nail down how I want to wire up the guitar. My own thing or try Combo wiring?

As I sort of understand it, the combos had a master volume, a 3 way pickup selector & a second 3way for switching tone caps that work off a tone pot that was wired backwards. Backwards. That makes some sense for steel as when you roll down it gets brighter. I would love to know the truth.
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Re: German Carve

Postby (clementc3) » Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:40 am

I think I saw that 6-pole horseshoe pickup on Reverb.com - I have been looking for a pickup for a lap steel guitar but I wasn't quite ready to pull the trigger at the asking price.

It has a lot of "character" as-is; I don't know if you can get it re-chromed if you want a like-new look. I'm glad it found a home!
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