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Question about designing a cutaway on a dreadnaught.
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 984
I am thinking about trying a cutaway on the next guitar, which will be another dreadnaught. As I look at pictures, I see many different looking shapes used, and af course the factories tend to have their own "design" for the different models. So, is this strickly an athestic thing.....what ever looks good to you? Or, is there a basic formula for designing the cutaway?
So far, as what looks good to me, I've seen a Seagull dred with cutaway that I like. It is not as "swoopy" as some, if that makes sense to anyone else.
Anyway, I'd love some input, thoughts and comments on this subject.
The person getting the guitar would love to have a cutaway.
John, Ken Cierp??? What do you guys do?
Thanks for your help.


Jun 01, 10 | 8:46 pm
Ken Cierp

Total Topics: 58
Total Posts: 2262
There's no special restrictions on a cutaway -- just take care to not to use too tight of radius ---- at either location. The body to fingerboard reveal (neck block width) and the neck heel are design considerations dependent on FB width and heel style etc.. That said there are no rules --- I have yet to see a player using a "D" style guitar who actually use those cleared upper frets ( I am sure there are many) but to me cutaways are more for fingerstyle solo artists who usually use concert or OM size guitars --- just an opinion.

Ken Cierp

Kenneth Michael Guitars est. 1978

Jun 02, 10 | 1:12 am
Ken C

Total Topics: 30
Total Posts: 554
My guitar teacher back in California used a Martin D with a cutaway. He was a blues player and loved that guitar for the volume. He used those upper frets all the time. I am generally not a huge fan of dreadnaughts, but for a cutaway without a mic, they are certainly louder than my OMC.


Jun 02, 10 | 4:29 am
Kevin Sjostrand

Total Topics: 84
Total Posts: 981
Okay, well I figured one could pretty much do what they wanted for shape. I like the heels that come flush with the side of the cutaway, I think it has a more finished look.
This player will not use the cutaway much but I he likes the look. Personally I'm not drawn to the look, and I don't play well enough to use the upper frets.
So I will ponder the idea a bit more. It might be just fun to build one. But then, do I want to complicate the matter more!
Thanks for the comments guys.


Jun 02, 10 | 5:50 am
blues creek guitars Authorized Martin Repair Ctr

Total Topics: 52
Total Posts: 1011
One thing that you need to be aware of is how to trim the neck block so you don't have a step on the body where the neck attaches. Take your fretboard on your neck and place it into your block. Mark the taper of the fretboard to the neck block. To this take off yet the thickness of your side. that way you have a smooth transition from the neck onto the body.
As all the Kens said there are no rules just keep the radii reasonable. I like to start my cutaways out at the upper bout and use a French Curve to make the arcs.

John Hall
Blues Creek Guitars Inc.
Authorized CF Martin Repair Center

Jun 02, 10 | 6:08 am

Total Topics: 27
Total Posts: 668
I'll echo what John just said - personally I find some neck heel joints on cuts almost offensive - particularly ones where there is defined step on the cut side of the body. Making the cut flow into the neck to me is the mark of a real craftsman - even better if the binding works with the cut. Consider a Gibson rounded neck heel and a compound curve of the side as it flows into the neck.

From a playing standpoint, as a bottlenecker I spend a lot of time banging around at the 12th fret, and my favorite guitars are all 12 frets clear non-cutaways. Personally I think a cut looks all wrong on a dread and most of the time I don't really like them on other body sizes. Electrics and jazz guitars, yes - dread, no thanks.

Obviously one opinion, others including your buyer will have others.

Jun 02, 10 | 8:16 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Consider doing a cutaway on a jumbo to get the big sound.....

Jun 02, 10 | 9:58 am

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