Customize Your Own Electric Guitar with CNC Machining
WayKen’s expertise in machining helped Raymond achieve the level of craftsmanship and quality he aspired to for his instrument.
Raymond, an archaeologist and art restorer, has always had a passion for music and played the electric guitar for many years. He aspires to have his own independent design. Raymond’s vision was to create an electric guitar that combined modern and traditional elements, and that was exceptionally strong, durable, and lightweight. After the design was completed, Raymond found WayKen to turn his design into reality.
At the core of this guitar is a meticulous fusion of contemporary and classical elements, resulting in showcases a sleek and modern aesthetic. It also needs to preserve the iconic features and tonal qualities of common guitars. WayKen reputation for precision and expertise in machining made us the perfect partner to help Raymond achieve this project.
Process: CNC milling
Surface Finish: deburring, machined surface (Ra0.8)
Material: 7075 aluminum alloy
Quantity: Prototype, 2 sets of 4 parts each
Lead Time: 13 days
3 Key Points for Successful Machining and Assembly
There are 3 key points in this project, the difficulty of machining the material itself, the deformation of the thin-walled structure, and the assembly of the part. Let’s see more details.
Effective Milling High-strength Aluminum 7075
7075 aluminum is a high-strength material, and one of its main characteristics is the high strength-to-weight ratio. This makes it ideal for use in applications where weight is a critical factor, but strength cannot be compromised. For example, the metal electric guitar in this project.
However, 7075 aluminum is also known for its difficulty in machining. It has a tendency to gall or peel during machining. Also, aluminum 7075 is prone to heat buildup, which can lead to warping or cracking during the milling process.
To overcome these challenges, WayKen used some strategies. One is to use high-lubricity cutting fluids. These fluids help to reduce friction and heat buildup, while also protecting the surface of the material from damage. Another is to use high-speed cutting tools. These tools are designed to reduce the amount of heat generated during the machining process, which helps to prevent warping and cracking.
Making the Part of Thin-walled Don’t Deform
One reason for the distortion of thin-walled parts during machining is the large size of the part. This is the case with the guitar body and headstock in this project. The body measures 438 x 322mm and is 2-3mm thick, and the headstock is 871 mm long and about 3mm thick. The other reason why thin-walled parts might deform during machining is due to the stresses that are generated during the cutting process. These stresses can cause the material to warp, twist, or buckle, resulting in a part that is out of tolerance or unusable.
One way of WayKen to prevent deformation is to use high-speed machining. This method not only reduces the amount of heat generated during cutting but also reduces the force applied to the material. Additionally, using specially designed cutting tools that are optimized for thin-walled aluminum parts.
Another strategy for controlling deformation is to use specialized work-holding and fixturing techniques. This can help to distribute the cutting forces more evenly across the surface of the part, reducing the risk of warping or buckling.
Ensuring the Right Tolerances for Guitar Part Assembly
The right tolerances are important for the assembly of parts. If the assembly tolerances are too loose, the guitar may have intonation issues or other performance problems. Conversely, if the tolerances are too tight, the parts may not fit together at all.
The project appears in two ways in terms of assembly. The first picture shows two parts both measuring 74mm, assembled with zero dimensions. The second picture shows that the internal part is 0.03mm larger than the external part, assembled with interference.
WayKen solved these problems in two ways. One is to reduce the internal dimensions and enlarge the external dimensions; the other is to take negative tolerances for the internal dimensions and positive tolerances for the external dimensions. In these ways, the guitar was ensured a smooth, accurate fit during the assembly process.
After Raymond received his metal guitar, he was satisfied and fine-tuned various parts of the instrument, such as the bridge and tuning pegs, to make sure it played well.
When it was finally time to play his electric guitar, Raymond was thrilled with the performance result and shared his joy with us. The aluminum 7075 gave the instrument a unique, modern, and industrial feel that was unlike any other guitar he had played before. The added strength and durability of the material also meant that the guitar could withstand the rigors of touring and performing.
In the meantime, Raymond brought his proud electric guitar to present it at the NAMM show near Los Angeles and received a lot of praise. WayKen is also happy for Raymond and hopes that his performance and music will be enjoyed by more and more people.