Thursday, June 28, 2018

Making an experimental electric guitar out of metal

I wanted to make a metallic guitar and I came up with a three string concept guitar. 

First of all I made a cardboard template of my guitar's body. I then transferred the template on a piece of melamine. 

I used the bandsaw to cut the shape out. Using a forstner bit on my drill, I opened up holes on the melamine. Those will help me for clamping later on. I cleaned the bandsaw marks on my belt sander.

I used a piece of cord to measure the perimeter of my piece. I then transferred the measurement on a piece of steel. I cut the metal to length with the angle grinder. I drilled a hole in the center of the piece. I used a drop of oil to prevent my drill bit from overheating.

I predrilled a pilot hole on the melamine and screwed the metal piece on the melamine.

I used the blow torch to heat the metal and then bended in place.I then added a clamp. This technique worked out OK but I still had to do a lot of fine tunings to get the shape I wanted.

I measured the length of the fretboard. I then cut the fretboard to size with the angle grinder. I used an air powered rotary tool to clean the burrs on the metal.

I then stick welded the fretboard to the body. I used the grinder with a sanding disc to clean up the welds.

To make the headstock I cut another piece of steel. To bend it to shape easier, I used the grinder to create grooves at the points I wanted to bend it. But this technique did not work out that well. I should have welded all the parts individually. Anyway, I moved on and welded the headstock to the finger board. I then forced the pieces in place with the vise and welded them together.

The headstock looked a little bulky, so I trimmed it a little using the grinder to make it nicer.

I drilled the holes for the tuning pegs, Im used a step drill bit for this job.

To support the bridge and the pickup of the instrument I welded two metal pieces perpendicular to the body. I then used the grinder to trim the excess pieces flush.

I temporarily clamped the pickup in place and used a drill to mark the holes I needed.

I cut two pieces of angled stock to act as bridge and nut. I then welded them in place. 

The scale of my instrument from nut to bridge is 60cm.

I drilled the holes for the screws which hold the tuning pegs in place.

I drilled the hole for the output jack.

I used an online fret calculator to find the positions of the frets. I marked the fret positions and used the angle grinder to create the fret marks. Since this instrument will be played with a slide the frets are actually guidelines to help me keep my intonation.

I then drilled holes for the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th and 12th fret. I did the same on the side of the finger board.

I gave everything a final sanding with the grinder.

I shaped the bridge and nut to an edge to avoid string buzzing.

Using mineral spirit I wiped off the dust. I wanted to keep the rough look of the guitar, so I finished it with a couple of clear coats to keep it rust free.

I then installed the tuning pegs. Using my rotary tool, I trimmed the excess screws.

I installed the pickups and the output jack.

I used the wire stripper on the pickup's cables. I soldered the ends of the cables and the jack. Now that everything was pre-coated with solder it was much easier to join them.

I connected the guitar on the amp to check that the pickup works. I hit the pickup with a metal object. If that sound goes through the amp without funny noises, everything works fine.

I then added the middle string and marked it's place on the nut and bridge. With a square file I opened up grooves for the string to rest. I repeated the process for the other two strings.

I lifted the pickup closer to the strings to get more volume from it.

I tuned the guitar in D A D . This way you have a D5 chord when you hit all the strings open.

At this point my instrument was ready, and I am really happy with the way it came out! :)

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