Mastercam Helps Gibson Guitar Stay Legendary


Gibson Guitar develops and builds unique quality instruments by blending old-world handcraft techniques with advanced manufacturing technology. Gibson guitars were quickly established as the best instruments out there.

Orville Gibson, founder of Gibson, had two policies established at his business that are followed to this day; buy or invent machines for dangerous repetitive operations requiring great accuracy, and employ a highly skilled worker when the human touch or the musician’s ear is needed. This unique combination of man and machine is one of the main reasons Gibson has become a legend among guitar players.

One way that Gibson keeps quality high and increases production is through the use of Mastercam CAD/CAM software. Gibson uses Mastercam to help them improve their tooling and efficiency with their CNC routers. Kenny Tucker, Manufacturing Engineer, says “I came to them about three years ago and started pushing them to go to something better than the other software packages they had at the time.” Since Tucker was responsible for manufacturing, he wanted software that he was comfortable with. Furthermore, he didn’t like some of the limitations he had noticed with the other software packages.

Kenny says, “Mastercam really gave us a lot more features and flexibility for precise programming…With this software, we were moving things as much as five-and six-thousandths of an inch to get guitar components where we wanted them to be. When they came off the CNC, they were perfect. Parts come out more consistent with far less change for errors.”

“With the help of Mastercam, we get the guitar tops carved as closely as possible, then we turn them over to the artists, which are the hand sanders and the craftsmen. Now the guitars have less variance than before, and the craftsmen can work their magic at this point with much less effort,” mentions Tucker.

Mastercam is used for solid bodies, hollow bodies, and even acoustic guitars and mandolins. They also use it to develop the fixtures and tooling used for producing the instruments. A software feature that Tucker uses often is Mastercam’s Verification ability. After a part is programmed, he can run the program in real time on the computer to see if there are any problems.

As a major player in today’s instrument market, Gibson must hold onto the tradition of building quality handcrafted instruments, but be able to produce them at a competitive cost. Mastercam helps them achieve this.

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