Saturday, December 15, 2012

Guitar Finished

The guitar is finally done! It has been more than 2 years since the first line was drawn on my computer, which  isn't bad considering it was originally an exercise to see what I could CAD. The finishing parts I made since the last post were the pick guard, the and the potentiometer knobs.

The pick guard was pretty straight forward to machine. I had to use a fixture plate to hold it because my stock was the same thickness as the part. I also used a countersink to add a really clean chamfer around the part. It took a little longer to machine, but makes it much more friendly to handle. I would prefer not to injure myself when rocking out.

The knobs were pretty fun to machine. I used my boring bar for all of the lathe work so there wouldn't be a need to zero the tool more than once on the manual machine. I also needed to turn tapers for the custom collets inside the knobs. Using the same tool for both the internal and external taper without changing the compound tool post position ensured perfect grip.

The collet potentiometer knobs are much better than the lame setscrew or press fit types. The bolt circle on the top also looks really cool.

All of the polished parts look really great. The bridge is probably my favorite part of the guitar. Everything fit together perfectly and the screws fit in seamlessly with the different components.

The pickups fit nicely with the pick guard. The only thing missing is the addition of my symbol to the center. Once I get a proper sized endmill I'll add it onto the part.

The completed assembly is pretty classy looking. It turned out very different from the original sketches I made as part of the CAD exercise, but I really like the way it looks now.

Here's my list of pros and cons for the final product.

-Sounds better than my other guitars. (probably the nice pickups, but it might be the solid aluminum construction)
-Don't need to worry bout breaking it (I don't have a case yet, but wrapping it in a towel to protect from scratches seems to be totally adequate)
-The neck feels really nice. The 3D profile machined ridges make a really neat texture.

-The weight balance is pretty bad. The body is well pocketed out, but the neck and head are fairly solid. Even with the extended body shape, the neck still tends to tip down when playing with a strap.

I could only come up with one con. That's pretty good! Since the side plates are easily replaceable, I can always quickly readjust the balance with a set of shiny new plates.

1 comment:

  1. Hi James,

    I'm Katy Anderson's dad, Stu Anderson. I made an aluminum guitar last year with a focus on minimal tooling from bar stock using an old Bridgeport vertical mill. I custom-designed the bridge to include full range tuning levers, to eliminate the headstock and mitigate against the "neck-heavy" problem. The 4:1 levers with 6-32 threaded screws (128 turns per inch resolution) really work great!

    I used standard fret-wire so had to cut 25 mil wide slots in the neck face for them - ended up making a urethane belt-driven arbor for the 2" diameter slotting saw which was mounted to and driven by the vertical mill. How did you cut/mount your stainless frets?

    Yours is much cooler looking than mine - I sacrificed appearance for simpler tooling at every turn. Mine was intended as a brassboard for the next stage of development: triple low-impedance hum-bucker pickups (500 Turns per coil, ~ 150 ohm impedance) simultaneously digitized on-board at 24 bit / 96ksample/second. Then offboard DSP processor & footpedals.

    What sort of finish did you apply? I applied a few coats of Sculpt Nouveau lacquer but after just 1 year it is wearing off. Anodizing would be problematic what with the fret mountings... Any ideas?