The skeletons or the outsides of the solid bodies are now cut with precision CNC to assure the consistency of critical dimensions. All the rest is done by hand with the exception of cutting neck pockets which are also don now on CNC equipment for accuracy and consistency.
Tops and backs are selected, resawn, planed and flat and edge sanded by hand to the desired thickness, and bookmatched. Wood inlay is then routed by hand to enhance the beauty and strength of the seam if desired.
Core body wood is marked and planed and sanded flat by hand with media mounted on flat glass plates for accuracy and consistency. Most of the work is still truly done by hand.
A layer of maple veneer (if that option is requested) is then glued to the top and back of the core for contrast and the chambers are cut out of the veneer after the bond is complete.
Core is routed for conduits and conduits are located and glued into place. Then it is outlined onto the glue surfaces of the top and back and the back panel is then cut with exacto-knife and coping saw.
The top and back are cut to just beyond the outline of the core and glued in place. Desired pickup pocket areas of the top are then drilled and routed out. Control locations are located and drilled for.
Body edges are routed and smoothed by hand with finishing sander. Radius on top and back edges routed in. Neck pocket is cut at 2 degree backset on precision CNC. Holes marked and drilled for threaded inserts or neck screws for neck plate and threaded inserts are installed (if requested).
The body is prepped with pumice body filler for the complete French polish finish or the body is sent to our expert painter/finisher.
Install electronics and hardware. Mount neck, which is finished in polymerized tung oil (Murdoch’s hard oil). Install tuning machines.
Finally, string, set up intonation and action, and enjoy!
You can see that these are very labor-intensive instruments. Their uniqueness simply adds to their mystique and value!
The RockBeach Mantis core chassis
This is the Goncalo Alves Cicada showing the skeleton from the back with the top already in place face-down.
This is a poplar Cicada being cut from a blank on the CNC router.
These are three CamelBack skeletons minus the pickup routs in 3 different woods rough cut on the CNC router.
Below is a video of a RockBeach Cicada being routed from an alder blank.