1000 Aluminium Cans Cast Into A Guitar

Aluminium cans are all around us, and are one of readily recyclable. While you can turn them into more cans, [Burls Art] had other ideas. Instead, he turned roughly 1000 cans into a custom aluminium guitar.

Both the body and neck of the electric guitar are made out of aluminium. It’s an impressive effort, as manufacturing a usable neck requires care to end up with something actually playable when you’re done with it.

Producing the guitar started with a big propane furnace to melt all the cans down so they could be cast into parts for the guitar. 38 lbs of cans went into the project, and were first dried out before being placed into the furnace for safety reasons. Aluminium cans aren’t made of the best alloy for casting, but you can use them in a pinch. The cans were first melted down and formed into ingots to be later used for producing the neck and body.

[Burls Art] then built sand casting molds for his parts with a material called Petrobond. Wood plugs were used to form the sand into the desired shape. The neck casting came out remarkably well, and was finished with a grinder, hacksaw, and sandpaper to get it to the right shape and install the frets. The body proved more difficult, with its multiple cavities, but it came together after a second attempt at casting.

Fully kitted out with pickups and hardware, the finished product looks great, and weighs 12.3 pounds. It sounds remarkably like a regular electric guitar, too. It does pick up fingerprints easily, and does have some voids in the casting, but overall, it’s a solid effort for an all-cast guitar.

We’ve seen some other great casting projects over the years before, too. Video after the break.

31 thoughts on “1000 Aluminium Cans Cast Into A Guitar

  1. Kudos to the guy for going nuts. This is pretty sweet, and his next one will be even better if he decides to keep going with it. Maybe a locking nut would make the string angle to the machine heads irrelevant. DIY Humbuckers might be worth it for the low-profile.

    1. Could deep anodize it. Might help some there.

      See more discomfort around the extra weight. Could still be as strong if not stronger and weigh a fair bit less if it was not solid.

    2. The problem with aluminium necks is tuning stability due to the expansion and contraction from the ambient temperature and hand warmth. One has to warm things up very carefully before playing. We had cases where the cold neck would back bow so much the strings lay flat on the strings until warmed up to playing temperature and action restored to playable

    1. Ironically ‘Aluminum’ is a woody word!

      Even woodier if you sprinkle in a few extra vowels, brit style.

      Aluminum and steel guitars can’t hold a tune. Add autotuning pegs for a hackaday worthy build. Rather than a worse recreation of an old Bean or the 90s knockoff Beans.

      One of the guys that played Slash (there is no Slash, he’s like Santa) played a Travis Bean.

  2. >It sounds remarkably like a regular electric guitar, too.

    That’s because it is. The guitar body matters… not so much. You’d be hard pressed to tell one apart from another unless there’s some bad resonances and faults. An electric guitar doesn’t necessarily even need a body per se – lap steel guitars are basically just the bridge and the neck.

    The thing about electric guitars is, since they don’t have the thin-walled hollow resonating bodies like classical guitars – most of them don’t anymore – the notes actually decay very rapidly. To get a good sustain on the notes the player adjusts the amplifier to the point of distortion or “compression”. The amplifier clips the volume and makes it seem like the note is sustained while it’s actually decaying. The actual string sound is basically covered over by the amp and many subtle differences in the “raw” sound of the guitar itself are just lost. What you’re listening to is the amp and any pedal effects, and also the feedback through microphonics where the strings vibrate with the sound.

    It’s actually quite similar to a synthesizer in a sense that you start with some excitation tone and put it through resonant filters, limiters, etc. and out comes something completely different. The tone is mostly there just to provide enough harmonic content and energy to excite the filters.

      1. yeah, I play with sand casting aluminum and gave up on cans as a source after my first melt. you lose more to oxidation than you get and the plastic layer is a toxic nightmare to burn out

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