By Brad Walseth

The Andrew Caldwell Co. builds everything from guitars to the scenery for the Country Music Awards.

Andrew Caldwell and his team produced scenery for the annual Country Music Awards television show.

Andrew Caldwell has found a niche that many woodworkers might wish for. As a creative custom woodworker in Nashville, TN, he has been called upon to use his talents in assisting the stars of the country music scene. For many years, Caldwell created cabinets for speakers for sound systems, mixing consoles and other studio furniture for recording studios and home theaters, and now he has branched out into building guitar necks and bodies. To top it off, Caldwell and his team produce scenery for the annual Country Music Awards television show.



“I started out building cabinets just like everyone else, with an occasional fireplace mantle or furniture,” Caldwell explains. “In visiting with my local hardware supplier I learned that I needed a niche, and I did want to focus on the music industry, being as I was in Nashville. It was at that time that I began building speakers for Sterling Group Audio. With SGA we built sound systems for a number of Churches and Convention Centers around the country.

It wasn’t long after that that I met Todd Beeton of Sound Construction Inc. We produced parts and some light assembly items for SCI’s studio furniture. For over five years we designed and built products with SCI.”

Caldwell’s association with Sound Construction ended, but he made adjustments — taking his business into new directions.

“Today, we focus most of out attention on guitar design and building with Southbound Custom,” Caldwell says. “We have produced instruments and prototype instruments for many different people this year and look forward to the future. It seems that not only people in Nashville want to have their instruments made in Nashville. Between our ability to produce parts using MasterCAM, and Southbound Custom’s ability to produce instruments with our parts, we have all the tools and space needed to deliver a high -quality instrument as fast as anyone else — and we are in Nashville.”

Not that Caldwell has abandoned his old markets. “We do still finish some products for customers that I have had for a period of time. For example: speakers, simple desk furniture that we have been cutting parts for for many years, trunks for cartage (lights and audio cable).”

The Andrew Caldwell Co. creates cabinets for speakers for sound systems, mixing consoles and other studio furniture for recording studios and home theaters

Caldwell’s customers are not all in the music business, but new projects often come from word of mouth from satisfied customers. “I think I can help anyone that has a project and needs wood or plastic cut. I basically have just a handful of customers. It is interesting when a new person brings a project to my shop, because, sometimes I was the one who drew the plans in the first place or I had a hand in it through another source.”

The Andrew Caldwell Co. is growing. “There are usually 12 people making sawdust or a mess,” according Caldwell. “Our 17,000-square-foot shop has a new top-of-the-line finish facility with a conveyer paint system waiting to be installed. We use our Thermwood Model 40 three-axis router to cut everything along with widebelt sanders, a large resaw, bandsaws and joiners. “

Mastercam plays an important part in helping Caldwell achieve his finished projects. Originally using Mastercam’s Version 8 router software, he moved to Pro X2 software and will soon be going to Mastercam Solids. “What I really like about Mastercam router Pro is the surfacing toolpath and finishing capabilities,” Caldwell says. “They are very important for my work when I build guitar components such as necks, heels, volutes, hearts and especially for surfacing the arched top of a guitar, which is the most important part of the guitar and gives it its unique sound.”

The Staxk Guitar (www.rbconceptsinc.com/) is a unique guitar that Caldwell helped build, which features two necks stacked one on top of the other for a two-tiered effect. “The only way to produce it was to model and route it in three dimensions because there were features carved on the bottom, on the front, back and in areas where our router couldn’t get in to cut. When you take all these parts apart and router them, and you have to put them back together, everything still has to line up and fit.”

But even regular guitars create their own challenges to overcome. Caldwell explains,“The frets and side dots were a challenge, but we added a slitting saw to the routers secondary tool location and now it is ‘one-two-three.’ I always knew that could be done, but I never wanted to make a cheap modification/attachment to my Thermwood. I had all the mounting brackets and tool holders machined specifically for this process and now not only are our necks radiused by Thermwood, but they have the slots and dots right off the table. I think it is truly amazing.”

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