Introduction: How to Make a Steel Body Resonator Guitar.
This will serve as a rough tutorial on the process of making a Steel Body Resonator guitar with a round neck and a spider bridge.
Step 1: Research and Design Decisions
Many are familiar with the make up of an acoustic and some are familiar with an electric but very few know much about the inner workings of a resonator guitar. It is important to know the different parts involved and how they change the overall sound and construction process.
'The Hub' provides a detailed insight but here's the basic idea:
There are 3 types of resonator cones:
- Spider Cone
- Biscuit Resonator
And 2 types of Neck:
The body of the guitar can be made out of a range of materials but in our project we chose to make a Steel Body Resonator Guitar with a Spider Cone and a Round Neck.
Step 2: Computer Aided Design (CAD)
Using Solidworks the team designed each part of the guitar to accurately visualize the model and to obtain manufacturing drawings for the workshop.
Step 3: Manufacturing Drawings
Seen above are manufacturing drawings of the full assembly the fretboard and the resonator support.
These drawings feature top, front and end views with some isometric views for good measure.
The drawings are essential for the manufacturing process. They serve as instructions for using in the workshop so accuracy is paramount.
Step 4: Make or Buy
Once the drawings were established we knew exactly what and how much raw materials we needed. We also knew what parts we would have to buy instead of manufacturing e.g. tailpiece, resonator cone, tuning keys etc.
Parts to be manufactured were, the body, the neck/head, resonator support and neck support.
Step 5: CNC
The parts of the body were cut from steel using a CNC machine using the drawings and CAD files for measurement. (parts of the body and CNC machine shown above).
Step 6: Milling
The neck, resonator support, and neck support were then milled from wood blocks using the milling machine.
The resonator support was manufactured in multiple parts, the top , bottom and dowels which were then glued together.
(milling machine shown above)
Step 7: Welding
The bottom and sides of the the body were welded together first using a tig welder.
The neck support and resonator support were then placed inside the open body and fixed to the correct position.
Step 8: Welding (2)
Once the previous step was completed the top face could be welded using the tig welder again.
However the body required more attention to the surface finish which called for rough sanding.
Once this was done the resonator cone was placed inside.
Step 9: Priming and Painting
We didn't want to leave the guitar looking like an assembly of raw materials so some personalizing was required.
We primed the body of the guitar with a spray primer(1st pic) and painted the guitar (2nd pic) .
Step 10: Finishing the Neck
The neck also had to be sanded for a good surface finish.
We used a drill for tuning key holes in the head of the neck, while considering example guitars for measurement.
Step 11: Some Assembly
Once the body was together we attached the neck to the neck support along with the truss rod, and fixed it in place.
The fretboard was then glued on top along with the nut.
Step 12: Fretting
There are many online tutorials concerning this, but the basic idea is we bought a length of fretting wire and cut it to fit the slots we had already made on the fretboard.
Then using glue we inserted the sections of frets and left them to set.
Step 13: The Tailpiece
A hole was drilled in the bottom of the guitar to attach the tailpiece which was then secured using a nut and bolt
Step 14: The Bridge, the Cover-plate and the Strings
At this point , we were able to attach the spider bridge, using the nut for reference we made notches on the saddle of the bridge for the strings.
Then we glued the cover-plate on and strung the guitar.
Step 15: The Project
This project was a team venture made by Senior Freshman Engineering with Management students attending Trinity College Dublin.
Jack Kennedy: Design + Team Leader.
Conor Mc Kitterick: Communications and Media
Shane Nugent: Manufacturing
Andrew Madigan: Finance.
This Steel Body Resonator guitar was built from a budget of 200 euros.
1 year ago
How did you attach the wooden block used to anchor the neck in place, to the metal body?
Question 2 years ago
What thickness steel, or possibly brass, would you suggest fof the back sides and top.
Thank you in anticipation.
Question 5 years ago on Step 9
Great job - very understated finish ;-) Question - what primer and paint did you use? I have acquired a chrome resonator uke which has been "relic"ed. It's scratched under the lacquer and the areas I've cleaned are a mixture of matt and gloss, so I don't think it'll look great when I've finished cleaning it (better than it does now, for sure) and painting it will be the answer. Any advice gratefully received.
6 years ago
Awesome guitar! I'm cringing at those dabs though.
6 years ago
Good looking guitar, very well done!
6 years ago
That's a neat build :)