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Metal Guitar Finish


Biohazard
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Hi, I am planning on having a guitar made for me, and I am going to set up the body myself (as in screw on bridge and pickups. The reason for this is because I plan to cut some aluminium sheet and glue it to the front back and sides of the guitar body for a aluminium metal finish. Although I could do with some guidence or help as to how I should go about doing this, what glue to use, how to do it, any problems I could face. Any help greatly appreciated, thanks. :D

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Sounds like a neat idea. I've never glued aluminum before, so I can't help you with that. I'd think perhaps a Gorilla glue or something similar - I bet someone here knows what would work. You may consider in addition to the glue - using "billets" to attach it. These could run through the body and hold both the back AND front on.

Be sure that your builder has scraps of this handy since it will alter the bridge height. The neck pocket will need to be slightly higher (less shallow) than if you didn't use the aluminum.

Now that I'm thinking about it...how about instead of having a solid body guitar made, you have the "frame" made...similar to as if you were going to use a figured top and back. Then instead of using wood - use your aluminum, attach it via billets around the edges (through the wooden frame). This would give you a lighter guitar AND may exploit some of the acoustic qualities of an aluminum top/back. Just a thought, and may even be easier than getting good adhesion across the entire front/back of a guitar.

-Ben.

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if your goin for that metal look you might want to check out James Hetfield's diamond plate explorers the real ones not the $#!t that esp sells and trys to call diamond plate, if im not mistaken only the front has the metal on it, its held on there by pickguard screws which would be really easy to do just drill sum pilot holes and start screwin it down, if you do go with gluing it down make sure that you completely cover every inch of surface of the metal or whatever so that you dont get any air pockets, also i read sumwhere dont know where that if you completely cover the body in metal it will alter the sound dont kno how or why or what itll sound like but im pretty sure it will, try goin with emg pickups if you dont want the sound altered that much and are goin just for the look

MzI

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:D Thanks very much for all those points, it's gave me some insight into the idea that I wouldn't have come up with myself. Screwing the aluminium down might work, and might give it a more industrial look, which is a good thing as id like an industrial look B) . As for the aluminium changing the sound, I am wanting to use a Kent Armstrong Motherbucker with Rio Grande Punchbox and Mahogany, so i don't think it will ruin the sound but any more comments on the metal changing the sound would be useful.

As for the neck pocket having to be different, I am planning on plating up to where the neck will sit, not plating the neck pocket itself, would I still have to do something about the neck pocket. As for bridge height can I simply just lower the bridge? If not, how would I overcome this, any ideas?

Anyone know if i would be able to file down the aluminium on the edges of the guitar or is using a file on the metal not going to work. Thanks again.

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You'd probably have to do something about the neck pocket anyways, yes. If the neck pocket is standard depth, you'll have the strings running quite near the aluminium, and there might not be room for the pickups and stuff underneath them, so I think you'll be better off having the neck pocket shallower than usuall.

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Ok thanks for the input on the neck pocket, it's something i'l have to think about.

In terms of attaching aluminium sheets onto guitar, could i just hammer in some screws, billets or whatever, or would this damage the wood, or would i have to drill specific holes for screwing the aluminium down with?

As well as the neck pocket modification, what about the change in bridge height, Does a Tune-O-Matic bridge have the ability to have its height changed to whatever it needs to be, or will something else have to bee done?

Will a file be enough for the edges of the aluminium where the front meets the side etc, because I will need to file down the edges or do something to it because of the sharp edges and to make it look finished. Any ideas how I could do this?

Thanks very much for any info, and thanks for the posts so far, its given me lots of new angles to look at it from. Cheers. :D

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mayb for the bridge height because toms are adjustable put a spacer in the neck pocket to make up for the thickness of the aluminum, as for screwing the aluminum down, i would predrill the aluminum and the the wood and take a regular hand screwdriver and screw em in make sure you dont make the wholes too big cuz you are gonna need sum wood for the screws to catch on to hold the aluminum down, question for ya are you having any finish put onto the guitar like paint or clear or ne thing, if your are using mahogany your are gonna need a hard coat and that can be a pain tryin to screw sumthing into straight without a starter hole, a file will take down the sides and smooth em out for ya

MzI

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Sorry I didn't understand that bit about the bridge and the neck pocket, would you mind re-explaining what you meant?

Asl for the wood, I was only planning on having say a protective lacquer or oil over the wood then just apply the aluminium, theres no point in having a finish if your going to cover the guitar in metal.

Would the screwing aluminium down work for the front of the headstock too, or would I be best using something like ephoxy for that rather than screws?

Where the aluminium sheets meet at the sides of the guitar, would a file be enough to smooth down the edges and make it look good and be safe? Thanks. :D

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You have some good ideas, but the only way to be certain they will work is to draw out a full scale diagram. A side angle will be necessary to determine how the alum. will affect the building of this guitar. I have a few pointers for you..If you're using a TOM bridge, you'll need to have an angle on the neck (like a les paul). Angled necks are best as a set neck (or through neck), not as a bolt on. I'd suggest that if you use a bolt on neck (fender esque) that you use a non-TOM bridge..like a fixed strat or tele bridge. This will allow for a straight neck pocket and you'll also have more surface contact with the bridge and may exploit some of the aluminum sound as well.

The bridge/neck pocket issue is this...What you are worried about is the height of the strings when they meet the neck. If you add a thickness to the face of the guitar, then the fretboard will be closer relative to the face of the guitar. This means that the bridge is not sitting on the correct plain and would need to be "lowered". Well bridges themselves can't really be lowered. One option would be to cut out the bridge area in the aluminum and mount it to the underlying wood..not the best option. The better option is to have the neck pocket rout reduced by the exact height of the aluminum. This will keep everything relative (strings, bridge, fretboard). String angle and action will be greatly impaired if these measurements are not correct.

On your headstock issue...you may have a problem laminating the headstock with something as thick as aluminum and without having problems mounting your tuners. Once I venereed a headstock and forgot to take the additional height into consideration and the tuners didn't fit...had to sand down the back of the headstock to get them to fit...Just have everything measured out, drawn out, and ask questions until you really understand the relationships between the necessary parts. Hope this helps, sorry for being long winded.

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If you dont want screws through the plate to fix it you should be able to stick it on with 2 part Epoxy glue - this sticks pretty much everything to everything and it shouldnt fall off again ! Try some with a piece of the metal on a scrap piece of wood first though to check.

Check out any of the metal fronted Zemaitis guitars for more ideas on how cool metal fonts can look.

The only thing I'd make sure of with either glue or screws is that you firmly clamp the metal flat to the front of the guitar to make sure it doesnt bow.

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Hi, thanks for those posts, these are very useful insights into the problems I will have to overcome, and problems that i wouldn't have thought of on my own, thanks to all who have posted on this topic.

A message to Morben guitars, what do you mean by a side angle necessary to determin how the aluminium will affect the building of the guitar?

About the Tune-O-Matic bridge, I have seen a TOM on a bolt on guitar before so I know it can work, plus luthiers I have spoke to haven't mentioned any problems with it.

The Mahogany body will just have a protective lacquer on it, thats all i will specify to whoever builds the guitar, unless anyone has specific ideas of what should be on the body?

I will no longer go for aluminium on the headstock, just a silver paint to sort of match the body, oh and I don't want to silver paint the body before anyone mentions it :D lol.

Does anyone know how I will blend the edges of the guitar together where the aluminium sheets meet? Will a file do the job, or more than just a file needed?

If theres anymore problems people can see with this then please say as I would like to hear any suggestions. Once all the technical stuff is out the way its just a case of carefully cutting the aluminium and the pickup holes and bridge holes etc and carefully correctly placing it on the guitar.

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You most definatly CAN use a TOM bridge with a bolt on neck - it will require a neck angle however. It will me more difficult for you as the "assembler" to deal with a neck angle on a non-standard depth rout than with just a straight bolt on. That was my only concern.

What I meant by a "side angle" is that you want to draw the entire guitar out on paper as if you were looking at it from the side. This will help you determine any issues with string angles, action, etc. Use a big piece of paper and correct measurements and the building process will go much smoother.

In reguards to smoothing the aluminum to the body...it seems that the other way around may be easier almost..have the body cut a bit big, then mount the aluminum and use it as a template with a patern bit on a router. The more I think about this, the more I think you should have the builder of the guitar deal with the aluminum issue. It's not cosmetic, rather structural issues that we're dealing with.

If you haven't already, order Melvin Hitchcock's book on building electric guitars...it's a great referance book and will explain a lot of what we are talking about...WITH PICTURES!

Keep us posted on this project.

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I don't know. I will have a regular body built out of Mahogany, finished in a protective lacquer. Next I will take the body templates and cut the aluminium to the shape of the body with all the pickup holes and pot holes etc. Then, with either screws or epoxy (most likel epoxy) and fit it to the guitar. I will have the neck pocket shallower by the same thickness as the aluminium. Then once the front and sides and back have been done, I will take a file to the edges and file down the aluminium.

So any problems with this plan?

Thanks for everyones input though, it is much appreciated.

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Hi, cool, i'm emailing companies that do plating, laying down my plan to see if they have any suggestiongs or concerns with my plan, once thats all been sorted i'l have the guitar built, then il do my bit (the aluminium on the boyd, set up and electronics), and i'l put pictures of how it turns out on here for you too see how much of a success/disaster it was.

Thanks to all whos posted.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi, haven't posted in this thread for ages. The plan was, just to remind people, to cover my guitar in aluminium sheet metal. I was going to get some aluminium, cut it using templates of the body but cut the metal slightly bigger than the body size, then glue it onto the body using epoxy glue, then file it down once the metal is on the front back and sides. However, it is the sides that is posing such a problem. The aluminium is very likely to be 1mm thickness for the sides, and 2mm thickness for the front and back. So how would I do the sides. I couldn't have one continuous strip going round the side of the body, there isnt a sheet of aluminium long enough for this. I will have to use lots of smaller strips. How would I blend the strips together though on the sides of the body? I may get the builder of the guitar to do the sides for me and I'l do the back and front, or if it's no cheaper to get him to do it than me buying the tools, I may get him to do the whole job for me. But i'd still like to know how it would be done, if anyone could give more input I would be very grateful.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi,

Let me guess..you a MUSE fan? Anywho, ive made a couple of guitars now clad in aluminium, its alot trickier than you might think. The back is easy, the top 1/2 is glued on, the bottom 1/2 screwed on (to allow access to the wiring). The front is easy... glued on. The sides are a real pain in the ass. You have to make a jig to glue the sides on else you get really, really crappy joins with the front of the guitar. With the length of aluminium needed, you do the sides in two stages, one length runs from the strap button behind the bridge arround to the bottom of the neck pocket. The other from the strap button to the end of the cutaway bu the neck pocket. Aluminium is really workable with, files are fine to make a nice neet job of matching the aluminium to the sides of the guitar. After filing this will still leave a little sharpness that can be taken away with 600 grit w&d paper... used with with soapy water.

To make the pickup/neck pockets a router will do the job with no trouble at all, just take it slow.

Hope this helps.

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