3D Printed Guitar

We’re not sure how we missed this one, but it definitely deserves a look. Professor of Mechtronics [Olaf Diegel’s] 3D printer must go to 12, because he’s printed these incredible electric guitar bodies. You probably won’t be making your own on your filament printer, however, because [Diegel] uses SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) to create the body out of nylon, then he dyes the resulting piece in a two-step process. You can read more about the construction specifics on his website.

And, they’re more than just eye-candy: the guitars sound brilliantly metallic. There are more than enough pictures and videos to keep you occupied on the site, where you can sift through all eight designs to your heart’s content. You’ll want to keep reading for a couple of videos embedded after the break, which feature some demonstrations of the guitar and comparisons to traditional electric guitars, as well as a brief history of its construction and build process.

[Thanks William]

18 thoughts on “3D Printed Guitar

    1. The guitar body is not 100% rigid, it flexes and resonates. Since the ends of the strings are attached to the guitar, it affects the vibration of the strings. Also the pickup is attached to the guitar, and it will be affected by any vibrations passed into it by the guitar body. Thus the guitar can affect the sound more than just acoustically.

        1. I actually think I hear the difference. The main thing is that the tone does not keep on going as long in the printed guitar (sustain, thats called, in more musical terms). You can hear that the tone does not sound as full, its sounds more like a person shouting than a person singing. The reason is simple. The 3d print is less flexible in material deformations, this manifests in more friction to vibrational states, and a quicker decay of the tone. Its neither bad or good, it just is a difference. And it strongly depends on what you want to play. For anything speedy, no problem, superduper. For a solo in November Rain, no way.

          I have to admit, its not a dramatic effect, but noticeable.

          1. +1
            Of course it’s noticable! Why else would orchestra would pay thousands of dollars/euros for their instruments? This is a field many hackers won’t understand, since it’s all about perfection and everything has to be right. Music technicians are able to hear tones which are misplaced by fractions of seconds, most musicians will notice if the instrument is mistuned even a tiniest bit and both would go crazy about that sort of thing.

            The analogy is not perfect, but anyway: Everyone will be able to read a text which has bad kerning (http://xkcd.com/1015/), but when you notice it, you just have to fix it.

    2. It’s more about having a solid body in an electric guitar, than shape, though it matters a bit. More solid wood allows for the vibrations from the strings to sustain for longer, on a guitar like this, with only a small block of wood, the sound will sustain less and die out quicker. Having a solid wood body also gives a more “natural” sound but this is more of a preference thing with most guitarists.

    3. Everything affects the sound/tone in an electric guitar, from the type of wood used on certain parts (body, neck and fretboard), whether or not it’s solid, has hollow channels, or is completely hollow, the shape of the body, the thickness of the body, all the way down to the type of paint and lacquer used to finish the guitar (which is one of the reasons why older guitars have that very unique sound to them, over time, nitrocellulose will shrink and settle, which changes the sound/tone of the guitar slightly), newer guitars still use nitrocellulose lacquers, but with plasticizers added for toughness along with a polyurethane base coat, so these newer guitars won’t have the same benefits that older guitars from the 50’s all the way up to the late 80’s/early 90’s have (which is when they started using the poly base coat and adding plasticizers to their nitrocellulose lacquer)… Also, all that affects how a guitar will perform, 3D printed guitars (much like all other plastic/nylon based guitars) won’t have the sustain of a well built, solid wood guitar, among other things… That being said, 3D printed guitars and newer poly (or other) finishes aren’t inherently bad, it all comes down to what type of sound YOU’RE looking for…

      1. The sound of old electric guitars guitars have very little to do with what colour paint was applied or the lacquer, that’s just an old wives tale about how harder lacquer produces brighter sounds. -this can and is regularly established by people taking new or old guitars and stripping them and applying new finishes, it changes the look not the sound. you can strip all of the finish off a guitar, refinish it with a new finish, hook it up to a spectrum analyser and see that the tone is not really affected. – the biggest effect would be the new strings that you’ll invariably put on and the cleaning of the fretboard that would be done at the same time. -and again you can test this systematically, take any old guitar and “only” change the finish = no change in tone, new strings = change, cleaned fret board = change redressed frets = change, changed pick ups = change.

        Old electric guitars (generally) sound unique because old pick ups have aged, their magnets (usually alnico based) have begun to demagnetise. That and the fact that their build process was almost entirely different from the processes used today. arguably the wood used to make the guitar was of a better quality, a quality that cannot be matched in hugely mass produced guitars of today.

        You can easily “ruin” that sound of an old guitar by adding new pick ups, similarly you can “age” a new guitar by using old pick ups.

        The density of the body affects the sustain, but again it’s not obvious to say that a thick solid body resonates more, Les Pauls tend to have lots of sustain and they are part hollow…

  1. More plastic guitars. http://www.innovationlab.eastman.com/explore/sports-leisure/RKSGuitars.aspx Made of Tenite, a plastic made from wood. Hopefully they’ve solved the problems Tenite had in the 1940’s. Over time it’d decompose and smell like someone vomited in a well used litterbox. It’d also warp and turn brown. Elevated temperatures accelerated the damage.

    It was used for interior plastics and some early exterior plastic parts like front turn signal lenses because it was super clear and had a low melting temperature. Unfortunately the temp the inside of a closed car in the sun could get pretty close to that.

  2. It’s not a 3D printed guitar. It’s a ‘bodyless’ massive wood guitar with some 3D printed decorative stuff attached.

    Also I suspect that this axe will be terribly head-heavy. The reason electric guitars have a body is not that it influences the tone (it doesn’t) but that it needs to counter-balance the weight of the head (and, to a lesser extend, the neck).

    Oh, and sustain doesn’t come from the vibrations of the strings resonating in the body (even though some guitar players seem to believe this) but actually from having a bridge that prevents exactly this from happening (ask any guitar guilder).

    The body does look nice, though. Just spare us all the voodoo explanations…

  3. That looks really amazing! I have few spools of 3D2PRINT nylon left here. I’ll try to create one and see if it will turn out as beautiful as this. The fine details of the guitar body are really intricate. You can well define the creativeness of the maker in its design. Kudos on this state-of-the-art work!

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