Steel String Acoustic Guitar

by LoboCNC, published

Steel String Acoustic Guitar by LoboCNC Mar 5, 2015
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What good is a capo (http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:698317) without a guitar? If you've got a big 3D printer and a lot of time, you can print your own! Aside from a few metal bits (frets, tuners, truss rod), all parts are 3D printed in PLA. Please visit http://www.bellinghamfoundry.com/blog/2014/11/3/jeff-kerrs-3d-printed-guitar for a nice writeup done by my local makerspace. And here's a video of me trying to play it: https://youtu.be/fihHMRZgja0

(Photos courtesy of the Bellingham Foundry.)


You'll need a big printer for this - mine is 285 x 285mm All parts are printed in PLA with 0.2mm layers. Set the line width to 0.4mm so that the thin walls print properly. On the neck, use at least 4 perimeters and 35% infill.

The top and sides print as 3 pieces, the back prints as 3 pieces, and the neck and fretboard both print as 2 pieces. All body parts and neck parts are glued together with superglue. (There are ribs on the inside of the body pieces where you can use small binder clips for clamping them together.) I used gel-type glue and a brush-on accelerator. Then I went back over the seams with a very thin superglue to get any cracks I missed.

You'll also need medium fret wire, a set of tuners, a set of bridge pins, and a 1/8" wide bridge, all available from Steward MacDonald. Use light or extra-light gauge steel strings.

The neck bolts onto the body using 1/4-20 screws that thread into the heel-rod part of the truss rod assembly (see trussrod.pdf). The trickiest part (aside from the printing) is fabricating the steel truss rod.

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I would love to print take 2 but I unfortunately do not have the print volume to do so but I should be able to print this one. I do however, have a few questions about this model:
1) Would printing the top in carbon fiber pla at a higher infill reduce the warping issue?
2) If the carbon fiber wouldn't reduce the warping does the take 2 top's dimensions match the body of this model?
3) Instead of printing the neck of the guitar are there any actual wooden necks (that you know of) which would fit the body or possibly at least a wooden fret board that would fit the neck?

1) The top of this guitar is very thin (~0.7mm), so it is already printed solid. The ribs are also printed solid. Using carbon fiber PLA would help, but I think the thing that really keeps v2 from warping over time is the aluminum X bracing I added.

2) This version and v2 have the same body and neck dimensions. The top of V2 should match the rest of the original version's body.

3) The neck and fretboard for both guitars is for a 25" scale. I doubt you'd be able to find a wooden neck to match exactly, but I know LMI (http://www.lmii.com) sells fingerboards and has slotting radiusing services so you should be able to get an exact match on that.

Good luck!

Can you make a left handed version?

You could simply mirror the parts and get a left handed version.

How many filament (kilograms) are needed for the whole project?

Altogether, about 1.5 kg if I recall. Note that I'd recommend printing this version of the guitar instead: https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1732114

Steel String Guitar, Take 2
by LoboCNC

Take 2 is like Take 1 a realy great work, but it does not fit on my printer. backlower is bigger than my buildplatform (300mm x 300mm)

The problem with this one is that the top will warp over time unless you are diligent about slackening strings when you aren't playing it.

I'll need to try some diy tuners to match.

Damn... now I have to get a larger printer.

your printer is 285mmx285mm but the neck hell is more biger is 358 mm , i need scalling? for print ? my printer is 290x290mm

The neck and fret board pieces were rotated 45 deg. to fit on the bed.

Well Done! You have MAD SKILLS!

I am experimenting with 3D printable instruments myself and I have made a few ukuleles so far, but I intend to get to a guitar someday. You can check out one of my designs at http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1868201

Headless Gourd Shaped Concert Ukulele
by Big1

Wow, your ukelele is really cool. I assume it prints standing up?

Thanks! Yes, my uniboy ukes are all printed vertically. But I don't have a 3D printer, I just browse for services on 3D hubs. I may eventually breakdown and buy one e.g. Raise3D N2+ looks really good, and I waiting for a hub to send me a print using the printer.

Also I would love to collaborate with you to work on my guitar models. Would you be interested? My greatest challenge is neck strength and straightness... For example, a draft model may look like https://skfb.ly/VDzS

What's the scale of your draft model guitar? It looks like you have slots for 2 carbon fiber rods, but that may not be enough if you are using a full-length (~25") scale. Might be OK, though for a short scale neck (~21-22").

If I wanted could I print this at 70%, i'm small and want to build a guitar that would fit me.


This guitar is already pretty small - about 13 1/2" across the lower bout. You might be able to scale it a little bit smaller, but I wouldn't go below 90%.

what size (scale) guitar is this?

It's 25" scale.

out of curiosity why was such a thin fill option chosen?
I am currently design a 3/4 martin in cad for 3d printing and am trying to judge how sturdy it will be based on fill settings.

I'm not quire sure what you mean by the "fill" settings. The guitar body is almost completely printed as thin walls, which print solid. Are you talking about the infill on the neck? Pretty much all of the string load on the neck is taken up by the steel truss rod, and the only real critical section is the headstock and where the headstock meets the neck. Even here, the number of perimeter lines an the number of top and bottom layers is much more important than the infill because almost all of the stress is taken up in the outer surface of the neck.

I think you had posted somewhere the name of the company that you ordered your tuners, frets, from but I can't find that article again.

Would you mind letting me know where you ordered from?


You can get everything you need at www.stewmac.com. Look forward to seeing your guitar!

Comments deleted.

Yes, those are the correct dimensions for 100% scaling.

Perfect! Thank you for the quick response.
I have started this project and just printed the top_ub portion which took just over 15 hours.

Well, mine is playable and has gotten a good review from its first player. Still some finish work yet. But the loosely assembled test run videos are posted on flickr. What a fun project.

Excellent! Could you post a link to the videos?

the videos are here along with the photo history in chronological order.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157652270950733

Wow, you've done an impressive job! To keep the body from warping over time, I'd suggest sticking with your ultra-light electric strings and also de-tuning when the guitar is not in use. Needless to say, keep it in a cool place, especially when tuned up.

I have almost completed the guitar, as you said it was quite a project. The quality of my printer HAS probably added a lot more time than necessary. But the entire project has been very enjoyable. Should be playable by October.

Looking forward to seeing your make of the guitar. One note of caution - I've discovered that the PLA will creep over time under the string tension, particularly if it is warm. Mine's gotten a bit warped over the past year because I've left it tuned up most of that time. I'd suggest releasing the string tension when you aren't playing.

I printed out the Fretboards with a wood/pla filament. Do you know the Radius of the STL on the fretboards when I go to sand them and install/file the Frets? I am hoping to make a sanding block.

The fretboard has a 14" radius. Can't wait to see your finished guitar!

I have printed 90 percent of this guitar, but fretboards are not looking right. Are you using inlays? They come out with a ridge the runs between the fret wires.

The dots on the fretboard should just be little circular indentations that I filled with pigmented epoxy. I'm not sure where you might be getting ridges. How do they differ from the STL file images displayed on Thingiverse?

What kind of printer do you have with such a big print area?

Custom built 600x600x600 mm build area (Cartesian with moving gantry). Video on you tube under the keywords 8CuP

This was printed on a custom printer I designed - here's a video describing it: http://youtu.be/YN8xI0NG7kU

Awesome.. how is that project going? I guess good considering the guitar ? :D
Will you publish the build planes for a charge or something?
Looks pretty good and such a massive build area !

I'm pretty happy with the printer, but I'm not sure I'd do it the same way again. I helped a couple of local students build copies, and I realized that it requires more precision machining than is really feasible for an open-source project.

Ok, hope you stil can publish em for us that like the challenge and have the gear :D

This is beautiful! I'd love to see someone come up with a kit of the non-printed parts, particularly the truss rod (my welding sucks).

This is beautiful! I'd love to see someone come up with a kit of the non-printed parts, particularly the truss rod (my welding sucks).