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I building a guitar, and considering using clear plexiglass as a body material.

But iam unsure if the cutting /drilling / routing / sanding procedures are any differant from that of say a wooden body.

Ive done some work with plexiglass at school when I was 15 and remember when you cut clear plexigass you get a rough matt translucent effect of the bit which has been cut, which needless to say no longer looks clear. Has any body embarked or finished a build of this kind and is there any advice you can give me? If it helps I basically want to build a guitar on the Dan armstrong ampeg theme, yes I know it will be damn heavy.... but then again so is my schecter A7 lol....any help please...

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i was thinking of doing the same thing awhile back, the plexiglass idea doesnt work well because of the translucent thing you were talking about, but higher grits of sandpaper might work to get back to that clear look, like 1000 grit or something you can get at a car body shop....

also i had the idea of making a molding of the guitar shape i want, then getting some clear liquid that hardens like wood or something at an art store (cant remember the name of it but it was a resin or something that dried clear) and pouring that into the molding. For the pickup cavities you could put a block of wood so the liquid goes around it, but........thats a hell of a lotta work.

lastly thick sheets of plexiglass are super expensive...for me atleast, i called american plastics and they told me for a 20 x 16 x 1 3/4 (inches) was about 200 dollars...

sorry to be the bearer of bad news man :D

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I've not done it, but here's how I would do it:

1. Either take a body you already own, borrow/steal a friend's body, or make a cheap (but accurate) plywood or MDF model

2. Make a plaster cast of said body, with the top face down (best if it is a front routed body)

3. remove body from cast when dry

4.Fill the cast with bartop epoxy. You can do many layers, allowing you to imbed stuff in the body (keys, money, googley eyes, body parts, toenail clippings, etc.), or even multilayered colors (alternate red, clear, blue, clear, etc.), or pour it all at once for a boring body :D .

5. Remove it from the cast

6. Sand smooth. Start with something not TOO terribly heavy, like 180, and work up from there. Since epoxy has no grain to it, alternate directions every time you switch up a grit to avoid scratches (a technique I picked up from jewelry class). Once you get to 600, you can buff it if you wish, but you'll probably have an easier time buffing it out if you continue up through 1500 or 2000 grit.

7. Drill screw holes for pickguard (Clear , perhaps?), bridge, neck attachment. Your cavities, thanks to the face down mold, are already there for you.

8. Shielding the cavity: naturally enough, tape and paint are not clear. If you want the cavity to be clear, you won't be able to insulate it at all. Using quiet pickups, like EMGs, would probably be your best bet for minimizing noise. Not that epoxy has a killer tone anyway... someone on this site once said that plastic bodies have a tone similar to that of a DeWalt; if anyone here knows who said it, I'd like to quote them on it in my sig (it isn't so great as an anonymous quote.)

NOTE: you'll never get the screwholes clear; don't even try. They have screws in them anyway. However, if you want to get into the cavity with a dremel sander/buffer, go ahead. You might have some luck.

[edit] I have worked with sanding epoxy on small inlays in metal for my jewelry class, but that is where my epoxysmithing experience ends. This is not a tested process, but a theory based on what little i know.

Good luck!

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I would suggest using fiberglass for a mold better than plaster cast. Just like he said, get a body the shape you want, get some vaseline (if mold release agent is not available and apply a very thin coat on the body. I have used WD40 gut I don't know how it will work with wood. Now get a fiberglass kit, I use the weaved one better than the matt.

1. If you want a smooth mold first do a coat of gel coat, if not available do a thick coat of resin let it sit for a while as it will begin to cure.

2. after its almost fully cured get the fiberglass and start laying it on the back of the guitar, I suggest doing the back so that you can rout for whatever combination of pickup or controls. once the resin has fully cured...

3. Start carefully prying the corners as this will release the guitar (you did use the mold realeasing agent, vaseline right?) now you should end with a mold to make a guitar out of Acrylic, Fiberglass, carbon fiber or whatever you want...

Just mix the acrylic and pour over your mold, after adding the realease agent ( again) and once it is cured just pry it out like you did the guitar body. Now you are ready to rout the controls and pickup cavities. You will need a variable speed router, or use a viriac to slow down yours since the fast speed of wood routed will melt the acrylic.

Acrylic just like plexiglass can be polished smooth. It will take sanding to 2000 and then using several other polishig compounds (formulated for acrylic) to bring it to a nice shine..( just like polishing a clear coat). you can use a heat gun, but you have to practice a lot, the heat gun will melt the surface hence bringing it back to a shinny surface, I will suggest you only do this inside the cavities and if brave enough in the top.

I have done this before but for paper weights and stuff like that, and fiberglass molds for autosound speaker kick panels and subwoofer enclosure. If you have any other question on this, If you are going to do it let me know.

PS. the fumes from Acrylic are highly toxic just like the urethane paints so use it in well ventilated areas and if possible use a respirator.

PPS before doing this go to a Guitar Store and pick up a BC Rich acrylic guitar and play it, I have and I can tell you that it sound like ****....

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It is no problem to polish plexiglass or acrylic to a high gloss and totally clear after cutting or routing - you do exactly what you would do with wood/laquer - just sand smooth and polish like you would with laquer. Leave the control/pick-up cavities matt translucent to hide wiring, pot and pick-up backs etc. You can even put colour laquer inside the cavities to give them a cool colour effect through the clear plastic (thats how you paint the body on RC-cars - paint on the interior leaving the plastic as a thick clear coat).

Much easier than casting if you only are making one!

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Could someone please explain what the materials are - 'bartop epoxy' and acrylic - are these the same thing? Where do you normally buy acrylic, and how is it used? Is it normally clear, and can you colour it to make it a translucent or even a solid colour? Is acrylic hard enough to be used as a guitar body? Presumably you could just cast a rectangular block of acrylic and then cut it to any shape you want. And the mould could be made out of wood.

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