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Gary

Guitar cutter: Sourcing, Using, Maintaining

168 posts in this topic

Seeing as these dang guitar cutters retail for over $2000, it's gonna be a long time before I ante up the cash to buy one. The thought has crossed my mind to build one myself... albeit a scaled down version.

Before I start my odyssey, is there anyone here who can give me there thoughts on using this device? I'd like to know the real nuts and bolts stuff like how well it cuts through caramel/marshmallow/ganache. How big is the cutting area? Is it a half-sheet size or so? Is it a pain to clean up afterward? Is it tough to rotate the caramel 90 degrees after the first cut? Do you actually use this device or does it just sit in the cabinet while your chef's knife does all the work?

I think the main benefit to a guitar cutter is that it makes quick, clean and uniform cuts. Beyond being a time saver in a production environment, is there a benefit to using a guitar cutter instead of a chef's knife?

Thanks in advance for any and all advice.

Gary

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do have a image of exactly what you're talking about?

I received a 'chitarra' for christmas for making pasta, it sounds like what you are talking about (and chitarra is it. for guitar), but this is made of wood and cost about $100 ordered from italy. I didn't know if these were common or not.

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An image and a description of a guitar cutter here.

I've never seen one used, actually. What are they most commonly used for?

If you have one, how do you use it in your daily work?

I also don't quite see what warrants it's high cost. I mean.....it's just strung wire on a frame......

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An image and a description of a guitar cutter here.

I've never seen one used, actually. What are they most commonly used for?

If you have one, how do you use it in your daily work?

I also don't quite see what warrants it's high cost. I mean.....it's just strung wire on a frame......

All I want to know is, for that price where's the engines and wheels?

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A guitar is really quite a handy instrument to have around. It makes cutting pates de fruits square a zip. And I can't imagine cutting marshmallows without one. Many chocolatiers use them for cutting pieces of ganache prior to dipping. Does it warrant the expense (mine cost about $1200, with three cutting frames)? There are others ways of getting the job done, to be sure. But it does save a lot of time. And it makes your pieces look more professional because they are uniform. I'm glad I bought one.

If you have a good hand sprayer and lots of hot water, they're not too bad to clean up. Ours happens to fit nicely in our triple sink, so sanitizing is a snap. The wires loosen up with time, but most guitars come with tools to "tune" them back up. Occasionally a wire will break, but it's no big deal to replace it.

Before attempting to build one yourself, at least see one up close. These things tend to be built like brick merde-maisons.

Cheers,


Steve Smith

Glacier Country

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do have a image of exactly what you're talking about?

I received a 'chitarra' for christmas for making pasta, it sounds like what you are talking about (and chitarra is it. for guitar), but this is made of wood and cost about $100 ordered from italy.  I didn't know if these were common or not.

The chitarra is a very different device although it operates on the same, cutting with wires, principle. The guitar cutter is a much more sophisticated device used in pastry. The chitarra is for cutting pasta into noodles.

Coincidentally (and somewhat OT), Sur La Table recently started selling a pretty nice Italian chitarra for $22. I picked one up last weekend on impulse while I was looking for a crepe spreader and I've been having some very good fun with it.

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A guitar is really quite a handy instrument to have around. It makes cutting pates de fruits square a zip. And I can't imagine cutting marshmallows without one. Many chocolatiers use them for cutting pieces of ganache prior to dipping. Does it warrant the expense (mine cost about $1200, with three cutting frames)? There are others ways of getting the job done, to be sure. But it does save a lot of time. And it makes your pieces look more professional because they are uniform. I'm glad I bought one.

If you have a good hand sprayer and lots of hot water, they're not too bad to clean up. Ours happens to fit nicely in our triple sink, so sanitizing is a snap.  The wires loosen up with time, but most guitars come with tools to "tune" them back up. Occasionally a wire will break, but it's no big deal to replace it. 

Before attempting to build one yourself, at least see one up close. These things tend to be built like brick merde-maisons.

Cheers,

Steve,

How do you rotate the product after you've cut in one direction? Once you cut caramel in one direction, it is now in a bunch of thin strips. How does it get turned 90 degrees without falling apart? Does the base rotate or do you have to lift and turn the caramel?

Thanks,

Gary

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I used to have one of the old ones and the base plate could be lifted and rotated 90 degrees to make the cross cut after the first linear cut had been made.

Mine only had the one cutter. The newer ones come with the wires in different configurations to make the different shapes.

I sold mine to a friend who was starting a business and needed one and I was no longer using it.

Check with some of the auction places that specialize in used commercial equipment - that is how I got the one I had and several other pieces of equipment I used to use when I was working professionally.

This is one of the places that always had an ad in the L.A. Times for upcoming auctions.

Another was Isidore Plotnick and Sons but I couldn't find them on the web under this name. I bought my old Garland range from them back in the 70s for a fantastic price.


Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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How do you rotate the product after you've cut in one direction?  Once you cut caramel in one direction, it is now in a bunch of thin strips.  How does it get turned 90 degrees without falling apart?  Does the base rotate or do you have to lift and turn the caramel?

Gary,

Therein lies the rub. The base on my guitar does not rotate, so the product has to. Matfer sells special pieces of plastic called "guitar sheets" which help facilitate the turn. The plastic is really soft, so the wires simply push into the sheet after cutting the product. After you lift the frame, you can rotate the guitar sheet 90 degrees and make your second cut. We found that cutting marshmallows was easier without the plastic, but it helps a lot for ganache and the pates. I'm not sure about caramel.

Cheers,


Steve Smith

Glacier Country

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Like you, I couldn't see spending $2000+ on a quitar, so I built my own. My design is a fixed size, but it cuts both ways at the same time. Right now I have made two different sizes, and if I decide I want a different size ganache center I cam make a new one in a day or two.

I first made 7x10 casting frames from 1/2" aluminum angle from a hardware store. They can either be welded or bolted as shown below.

casting_frames.jpg

I use paper clamps to clip the frames to 1/8" acrylic lined with foil or parchment.

The guitar is designed to cut the ganache cast in this frame all at once. Here is a picture of the guitar as seen from the bottom. It cuts 1"x7/8" rectangles:

guitar1.jpg

The 1-1/2" x 1/4" aluminum angle was obtained at a scrap metal yard. I cut it with a power miter saw and had it welded at a welding ship for about $25. The wire is 0.025 stainless steel fishing leader from a bait shop (I live near the ocean).

The hardest part was drilling a 1/16" hole through the socket head cap screws to thread the wire. These bolts should have been stainless steel, but I was unable to drill ss with the tools that I had, and I couldn't find anyone to do it at a reasonable cost. The bolts are 1/4x28 and they are threaded into the frame and there is a lock nut on the other side to keep the wire from loosening up.

The most critical part was the base which is a 1" thick piece of polyethelyne cutting board with 3/4" deep saw kerfs that match the wire layout of the quitar.

This does not, in my opinion, cut as cleanly as a Dedy ( a German brand) because the cutting is more of a punching action rather than a shearing action. It does quite well on ganaches and fudges, but it is a little more problematic with stickier things such as marshmallows and soft caramels. I can use it for marshmallows, but I have to clean it off after about two cuts.

Over all though, it is a success. There is about $75 in material costs and about a day's worth of labor to make one.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Lloyd Martin

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Lloyd, this thing rocks. My questions: How often do the wires need to be tightened, and how often do they break?


Formerly known as "Melange"

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They don't loosen up much after the first few uses (it seems to stretch the wires at first). You have to be careful not to overtighten since the wires break very easily. This fishing leader doesn't seem to have the tensile strength that some other ss wires have, but ss wire is very hard to come by. I am going to try to get some 0.31 wire next time.

If you use a fairly firm ganache ( 1 cup of cream to 1 lb of bittersweet chocolate) and let it warm up to room temperature (68f) before cutting you shouldn't have any problem. You do have to put a lot of pressure on the cutter sometimes, but if the pressure is even it won't break the wires--but I always keep spares.

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Like somebody said earlier, mostly guitars are useful to save time if you need to cut lots of stuff very precisely. For many professionals, it's worth the hefty initial price in time savings alone. If you're doing very small batches only occasionally, I don't think it's worth buying one. However, a guitar is almost essential for cutting sheets of cast ganache for dipping. When you cut the ganache with a knife, no matter how thin the blade is you will get raised edges that will cause the chocolate to pool on top when you dip the squares, so you wont get a nice thin coating.

As for turning the sheet of product after the first cut, what we used in school was a piece of thin sheet metal used sort of like a pizza peel. For this to work with ganache, you need to make sure to coat one side of the cast ganache sheet with a thin layer of tempered chocolate. We used a paint roller to do this, but you can also use an offset if you're fast enough. The chocolate will keep the ganache from sticking to the bed of the guitar, as well as giving a base layer so that when you dip the squares the bottom will have an even coat.

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As for turning the sheet of product after the first cut, what we used in school was a piece of thin sheet metal used sort of like a pizza peel.

Neil,

My guitar came with such a metal sheet. Are you cutting first, then sliding the sheet under the product, rotating it and sliding the sheet back out? I can see how that might work with temper coated ganache, but what about pates?

Cheers


Steve Smith

Glacier Country

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As for turning the sheet of product after the first cut, what we used in school was a piece of thin sheet metal used sort of like a pizza peel.

Neil,

My guitar came with such a metal sheet. Are you cutting first, then sliding the sheet under the product, rotating it and sliding the sheet back out? I can see how that might work with temper coated ganache, but what about pates?

Cheers

Yep, that's the way it works. For pate de fruit you coat the bottom with sugar, and marshmallow is coated with starch/powdered sugar.

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As for turning the sheet of product after the first cut, what we used in school was a piece of thin sheet metal used sort of like a pizza peel. For this to work with ganache, you need to make sure to coat one side of the cast ganache sheet with a thin layer of tempered chocolate. We used a paint roller to do this, but you can also use an offset if you're fast enough. The chocolate will keep the ganache from sticking to the bed of the guitar, as well as giving a base layer so that when you dip the squares the bottom will have an even coat.

I've always used an offset knife, but a paint roller sounds interesting. What kind of roller did you use?

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Look at a place that carries printmaking supplies. The paint rollers for printing inks (about the same consistency as chocolate) are specifically designed to pick up a thin layer and release it when it is applied to a firm surface. They clean up easily using glycerine then water, for food-safe applications.

They come in varioius widths from 3 inches to 12 inches.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Lloydchoc,

Thanks for the photos and instructional info. Much appreciated! I'd like to ask if you can post a photo of the base. Also, can you detail a bit more about how you mounted the screws? Did you cut threads in the frame or did you simply secure the screws with nuts and lock washers?

How did you drill holes in the screws? Did you use a drill press?

Lastly, you mentioned it was difficult to cut caramels with the "punching" action. I'm thinking of modifying your design to have the strings in only one direction. I'm trying to come up with a method to hinge the frame on the base to get that "shearing" action. Perhaps a photo of your base material will give me some ideas.

I appreciate the input from everyone.

Thanks,

Gary

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The frame is drilled and threaded for the socket head cap screws which were drilled with a 1/16" hole perpendicularly about half way down to hold the end of the wire. I used a drill press and too many to keep track of drill bits (it was very difficult). There is a nut on the other side of the frame to lock the bolt in position once the desired tension is placed on the wire.

As I said the base is just a 1" thick piece of PE cutting board with 3/4" deep saw kerfs that the wires go into.

I wasn't difficult to cut the caramels, it was just messy because the caramel (and marshmallow) would stick to the wires.

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Researching guitar slicers. Trying to figure out how to buy everything I want and need. Thinking of having husband build something temporary (against some rather good advice on this forum, I know). Still the budget is growing tighter......

Here's the thing, I don't really understand how one works. I know you coat the slab of ganache on both sides with chocolate, let it mostly set, place slab on guitar base and slice through with wires. So, then the wires are embedded in the base and somehow you turn your ganache which is now in strips? How do you turn it without it getting all tweaked? Visuals would be great if anyone has the time. thanks

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I have a very old guitar slicer for pasta. There is an inch or so of free area under the wires.

I roll the pasta out, drape it over the guitar then use a wood rolling pin which forces the pasta down between the wires. I put a sheet of parchment under the wires prior to placing the pasta.

For chocolate I would use one of the silicone rolling pins or simply cover it with acetate and roll that.

I know others here have previously mentioned the use of guitars to cut chocolate but perhaps they have not yet seen this post.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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The guitar has a metal base with space underneath it for the top wires (cutter) to rest once it has cut through the ganache/pate de fruit. Once you've cut through your food item, the guitar comes with a large "spatula"-like metal sheet that you slide under the food. You then lift off the food, lift up the wire cutter and then place the food back on the guitar a quarter turn from the original direction and slice through again. Now you have little cubes of ganache/pate de fruit and you can remove them with the large metal sheet and it's ready for coating.

Actually, you only need to coat one side of your ganache with tempered chocolate. The coated side should be the bottom side. This helps hold the ganache together in case it cracks or is a little soft. If you're cutting pate de fruit, a little corn starch helps to keep it from sticking to the guitar.

They are expensive, but there are some smaller table-top models which are cheaper than the versions sold on JB prince for $5,000. They are well worth the investment when you calculate how little waste you end up with and how perfect your portion sizes are. I use them for ganache, pate de fruit and cookie dough (obviously for square cookies). I'm sure there are other people who have used them for other things as well.

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The rows don't get all wonky when you slide a metal sheet under them? I need to go spy on someone. Anyone in the California Bay area that wants to show me their guitar slicer??

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the rows don't get "wonky" hehehe...

it's one of those things with pastry...the faster you move, the less likely there will be a disaster. just slide the metal sheet under the rows - quickly - and you'll be fine.

i'll try to find a link for you, but there was a web-site i was looking at that had a huge (i'm talking probably around $15,000 guitar) machine for cutting sheet cakes and things for a production bakery. they had a video demo-ing the product. pretty cool!


Edited by alanamoana (log)

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