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1st Build - Aluminum neck fretless guitar

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Stoneberg, Oct 9, 2009.

  1. Stoneberg

    Stoneberg TBerculosis

    Hey all, I know this is kinda crazy but I'm currently building an aluminum neck mahogany body fretless guitar for a project in my metals casting class (im a sculpture major).

    So its going to be about 24" scale, the neck will be fully cast aluminum, the body is mahogany, about 18" by 14". I want it to be two humbuckers and a 3-way switch(should i get 5?).

    I took the neck off a crappy epiphone les paul wannabe guitar and casted it in wax, I'm gonna make a mold for it soon to cast it in aluminum.

    I know there's a lot of risks with shrinkage and stuff, I'm pretty experienced in metal working so I'm hoping i can hot work/weld any imperfections once it's casted. Here are some pictures of what I got so far:

    View attachment 142652
    quick sketch of my basic idea

    View attachment 142653
    mahogany body i roughly shaped, I'm gonna wait on the neck and electronics before I do more

    If I'm already messing up something please let me know! more pictures coming soon...:bassist:
    oZZma likes this.
  2. In for a penny, in for a pound. Why not make the body all aluminum, of semi hollow aluminum?
  3. vbasscustom


    Sep 8, 2008
    sounds like an awsome project. im not sure about truss robs in aluminum necks or not? maybe someone who knows a little more about them could chime in.
  4. Gone


    Mar 21, 2006
    Cape Town
    Jayda custom basses, builder
    Would you be adding frets to the neck or would it be one-piece?
  5. YMB


    Sep 22, 2009
    São Paulo - Brazil
    This is a good idea, just do it !

    And after that we could analize the results.

    Put frets on it. This is experimentation. Despite the results : Good or not Good.

    We could stydy the ressonant frequency of the aluminium neck, and many others factors.

    My Opinion : Just Do It !

    I'm anxious to see....
  6. fender_funk_man


    Feb 19, 2009
    agreed keep us posted on the progress
  7. Wonder if it would sound "cold"?:bag:
  8. AltGrendel

    AltGrendel Squire Jag SS fan.

    May 21, 2009
    Mid-Atlantic USA.
    If I was going to make it, I'd make it a hollow neck.

    Oh, and Travis-Bean made these in the '70s. I tried a few an didn't like the edge where the fretboard met the aluminium. It had/has a very "sharp" angle, not rounded like a standard wood neck and I found it very uncomfortable.
  9. jworrellbass

    jworrellbass Commercial User

    May 17, 2009
    Colorado Springs CO
    Owner, builder: jworrellbass
    How much will the neck weigh? What is the wieght difference between aluminum and wood?

    I think it will be interesting. Looking forward to it see it come together.
  10. http://electricalguitarcompany.com/

    Ask him for advice.

    Also, I know the Travis Bean approach was to cast the neck along with a block of aluminum that would then bolt into the body, which the pickups and bridge would then be mounted to...


    However Kramer guitars didn't do this, so I'm sure it will work either way....


    Good luck, I can't wait to see the finished product.
  11. singlemalt

    singlemalt Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2007
    White Salmon, WA
    Problem with the Kramers and T Beans was the weight and neck dive. The aluminum neck idea gives great sustain and never needs adjustment. Tuning changes with temperature.

    Kramer was on the right track with an I beam sort of configuration with wood inlays. But they put heavy wood bodies on and added to the weight.

    These things generally weighed 13+ lbs, just too heavy too be comfortable for long. Sounded great depending on what electronics went in.

    If you are going that route, may I suggest that it be a headless design, bolt on neck, coupled with a light body. That may improve the balance.

    Saves some metal and casting too.
  12. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    The Beans do have a partially hollow neck and a big channel in the part encompassed by the body. Mine is flawless at the joint between the fretboard and the neck, but the later ones had an extra piece of aluminum sandwiched at that junction, and were not nearly as nicely finished IME.

    I don't use my Bean fretless much these days. The weight is a total buzz kill. But for slide bass or other really aggressive styles there's nothing quite like it. I'm planning on using it for most of my gig tomorrow, since it's a rare 40 minute opening slot rather than a whole evening.

    Edit: lots of good Bean info here.
  13. You know come to think if it...were Travis Bean and Kramer guitars cast or machined?
  14. Passinwind

    Passinwind I know nothing. Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    The website I just linked has extensive explanations of the Bean building process. Travis Bean himself was a machinist, so I'm thinking you can guess the answer...;)
  15. DSB1


    Mar 8, 2006
    Sounds like an interesting project...please keep us updated. Why fretless though?
  16. praisegig

    praisegig Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2008
    Stephenville, TX
  17. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Also for the wood/aluminium reverse, google up Tokai Talbo bass.
  18. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Is the fretboard going to be aluminum as well? I'd like to hear how that would sound.
  19. Stoneberg

    Stoneberg TBerculosis

    thanks for all the replies, guys! uuh i want to make it a fretless partly because it would be way easier and also because I played a fretless guitar recently and it's waaayy cool. I've always enjoyed playing fretless basses but fretless guitars are like a whole new thing. wicked hard to play though.

    Yes it will weigh a ton, and probably will have pretty bad neck dive. I was thinking of making it hollow but I thought it would be too risky in terms of warpage, cast aluminum being weaker and less predictable than machined aluminum. Now that I think of it I should have made the upper horn longer, but oh well.

    Here are some pictures of the neck in wax, soon to be cast in aluminum:

    View attachment 142884

    View attachment 142885

    I'm also thinking of a name to put on the head... any suggestions?
  20. Stoneberg, what grade of aluminum are you using to cast?

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