Let's be honest. If you tend to think of aluminum only in the context of the racy slot wheels on a muscle car or as the frosty can that holds your icy cold drink, you may be surprised to know that this glittering metal is now showing up in some rather surprising places. While wood has enjoyed a long run of success as the material of choice in the guitar industry, it is now getting some well-deserved competition from the same aluminum that we rely on for cans, wheels and hundreds of other products. Before you purchase your next guitar, take time to learn how this metal is changing the guitar industry and how a simple block of aluminum can play a sweet, sweet song!
If you put music lovers in a machine shop environment and add aluminum, computers and hi-tech equipment such as CNC machines and mills, you may get something that looks and sounds truly unique. This is what happened when the employees of a small machine shop got together and decided to build aluminum guitars.
Most traditional guitars are constructed of fine woods, such as mahogany or walnut for the body and maple or rosewood for the neck. Layering, shaping, carving and other techniques help give the instrument the capability to create just the right sound. While this works well when making wooden guitars, the process of making one from aluminum is quite different.
A Different Process
Using a solid chunk of material to create something as intricately shaped as a guitar requires out-of-the-box thinking. In this case, it meant creating the guitar body from a solid block of aluminum.
After a few false starts, a 25-pound block, or billet, of pure aluminum was selected to mill the instrument body. By the time the milling process was completed, 22 pounds of aluminum had been removed, leaving just a three pound three pound, perfectly formed guitar body.
Unlike the process of making a wooden guitar, all the excess material that is removed during the milling and shaping process of an aluminum guitar can be melted down to make new billets or aluminum castings.
Designed For Sound
Achieving the exact weight, shape and sound required for a professional quality musical instrument meant paying close attention to both design and detail. Since the sound is the most important part of any guitar, the chambers of the body required making changes to accommodate different pickups than those commonly found in standard wooden guitar bodies.
Because these are electric guitars, they require special devices to help create and control the sound, just as their wooden cousins do. One of these devices, called a potentiometer, or pot, is housed inside the body. Controlling tone, clarity and volume, this device is wired into the guitar to produce the range of sounds that these instruments have become famous form.
Continuing The Theme
Once the body is completed, additional components of the guitar are crafted from aluminum, and added to the instrument. These include the front, pick guard, knobs, bridges and all the other parts that work together to create and control the guitar's sound. With the exception of the neck, paint and strings, the rest of the instrument is comfortably light in weight, while capturing the beauty and strength of aluminum.
A New Classic
While the sound of these guitars is the most important part, their visual image is nothing less than sensational, as well. Traditional guitars are known for their good lucks, but using aluminum as the material to craft a professional quality instrument that is beautiful, durable and comfortable to use is creating quite a stir among serious guitar players everywhere. Fully customizable, to fit the fantasies of any guitar enthusiast, even baseball great Albert Pujols has come under the spell of the sweet song of the aluminum guitar and recently received one to celebrate his record-breaking 500 home runs. Isn't it time for you to own an aluminum guitar?