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My Mail-order Girlfriend Arrived Last Night…

26 Jul

Crafting Your Own Guitar From Acrylic Sheet

My new Kramer FT-202S just arrived yesterday (and, by the way, it looks like Gibson bought up the name ’cause when I went to Kramer customer service it forwarded me to Gibson’s website). I found the guitar on ebay and I have to give cred’s out to Tomio-Music – absolutely great ebay sellers and one crazy hillbilly musician and master guitar builder who you’ve got to check out if you play.


The Other Women In My Life… My Kramer FT-202S & My Fender Strat

Quick review on the Kramer FT-202S – WOW! It was humming before I even got it out of the box. My first “real” guitar was a 1985 Kramer Pacer Carerra – $1,400 for which I paid half cash and the other half I traded with my motorcycle to the owner of the music store. Eddy Van Halen had used the guitar at the NAMM show and it was all custom airbrushed… I’ve also owned a ’74 Blonde Les Paul Custom I picked up from Bryce, the lead guitarist from the Killer Dwarfs, and I had a ’76 big head all American Fender Stratocaster that I installed active pickups and a Khaler Tremolo system on. So, my cynical friends, I know what “good” feels and sounds like and this FT-202S feels and sounds great. I’m absolutely stunned at how economically priced ($150-$200) this thing is… I was looking for something to hack around with the over-40 crowd but what I got is something I’d easily hook up to a Marshall stack and let loose in a large club or arena – no qualms what-so-ever. Of course, this is the basic model so I’m probably going to upgrade the fulcrum tremolo to a lock-nut system. It’s an off-shore model (Indonesia) but the technology used in making these things is near fool proof – great neck, flawless paint job, and the pick-ups are powerful and as bright as anything I’ve played in the past – but, they aren’t soulful pickups, meaning you aren’t going to flip to the back and cry out with any emotion. Not a problem, though, that’s why I have my Strat with fat single coils. If you’re a parent looking to get little Johny or Jane something they’ll be excited to show off to grandma as well as carry around on their backs from practice to gig, the FT-202S is well worth the investment until they’re ready to jump to a pro-series axe (which, they may never have the need for). HOT BUY!

OK, now the stuff on plastic…

See-through guitars have been around for about 30 years now. Major manufacturers now offer exotic flavours of acrylic guitars, such as the BC Rich models below.

Cast Acrylic Guitars From BC Rich

I’ve been approached by musicians that I know who find out I’m in plastics wanting to get hold of some pieces to play around with – the idea being to carve out their own idea of the perfect guitar. Commercial acrylic guitars are poured into a mold (casting) where one gets a reasonable degree of consistency in translucency and density, the latter being important if you’re lookin’ for any degree of sustain or resonance in your playing. You’ll never get that tone – you know the one I mean — from plastic. Wood is wood. Plastic is plastic. However, the electronics now available in your amp or pedals can digitally simulate traditional tones and even feedback.

The body thickness of my Fender is 1.5″ and my Kramer is 1.75″ – a 24 x 24 ” block of 1.75″ (18mm) will require an investment of about $150. You can router out the electronics and pick-up slots fairly easily and then pimp it up by cutting out a pick guard using glowing edge acrylic. You’ll need a drill bit rated for plastic so it doesn’t crack the material and use self tapping screws. I recommend you practice a couple of insertions in some scrap material to understand how acrylic accepts them.

Clear Acrylic Sheet Used As Neck Rests

When it comes down to polishing you may have some difficulty getting a totally clear finish on your inlaid router grooves – it’s going to take a lot of elbow grease unless you can get a polishing tool in there. For the edges you can buy a buffing wheel that will affix onto your hand drill, and buffing compound (course to fine) which you can order over the phone from our service centres.

 

The real fun is going to be bolting on your neck and stringing it for the first time – make an investment in reading other people’s experiences in doing this. I’ve heard horror stories of picking up the beast for the first time and it cracking at the main joint because not enough material was left to support the neck; or the bridge pulling out because through-bolts weren’t used- plastic is not wood. At the end of this exercise you’ll no doubt find out why acrylic guitars are not cheap – hand made ones can cost thousands of dollars.

 


You Can Make Your Own Acrylic Guitar Display Cases

Plastic Instruments

Plastics have long been used in making instruments, especially Bakelite and Delrin – which is what your guitar picks are made of, as well as the drones and chanters of newer bag pipes. Acrylic is used to make other forms of see-through instruments such as the saxaphone below, as well as clarinet mouth pieces.


See-through Saxophone & Clarinet Mouthpiece Made From Acrylic

Clarinet Made From Bakelite


Common Guitar Picks Are Made From Delrin


These Transluscent Picks Are Made From Polycarbonate

Someone gutted grandma’s most cherished possession and
fabbed up a cabinet system out of (and i’m guessing here) 1/2″ ff acrylic.

Grand Piano Made Out Of Cast Acrylic

Warehoused Plastic Sales has helped lots of musicians over the years to find the bits and pieces they need to build that magical instrument. If you’re looking for ideas or assistance with your project then give us a call. We have CNC routers that can cut just about any shape you’re thinking of (remember we can ship just about anywhere) – all we need is a cad file and you’ll find our machining rates incredibly cost effective compared to trying to cut it out yourself with a jig saw or hand-router. We have all the polishes and cements you’ll need as well.


Our CNC Can Cut Just About Any Shape Out Of Plastic For You
Bodies, Head Stock Covers, Pick Guards

IF YOU’VE SUCCESSFULLY MADE AN INSTRUMENT OUT OF PLASTIC then I’d appreciate being able to showcase it so please send me some pictures and details.

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3 Comments

Posted by on July 26, 2007 in Acrylic, Fabrication, General Knowledge

 

3 responses to “My Mail-order Girlfriend Arrived Last Night…

  1. Greg

    August 9, 2007 at 1:46 am

    Hi,
    In your article above, you talked about making your own guitar display case. Do you have instructions/advice on how to do it? Please let me know.

    Thank you.

    Regards,

    Greg
    gfe713@aol.com

     
  2. plasticguy

    August 9, 2007 at 8:14 am

     
  3. chris

    November 17, 2007 at 6:13 pm

    where can you buy big bits of acrylic in the UK to make guitars from?
    thanks

     

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