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Aluminum Guitars

MotherSea

Experienced
I'm very intrigued and seriously considering one from Electrical, Obstructures, or Bastin. Anyone have experience with them? Any other brands I should consider?
 

MotherSea

Experienced
That's just silly... in my mind, the more important part to be aluminum is the neck, for sure. The body being aluminum will give you a really aggressive tone, but you don't get the advantages of the most stable neck in the business with that guitar.
 

Ochanomizu

Inspired
Just throwing it out there 'cause you asked for other brands to consider :)

Is your requirement for an aluminium neck, or the most stable neck?

How about Parker guitars or Steinberger? I'm interested to know people's opinions regarding neck stability as well. Living in Hong Kong which is hot and humid in Summer and very cool and (sometimes) dry in winter, I'm constantly adjusting my necks.

The most stable neck I own is on my Vigier Shawn Lane Model. Not perfect, but the most stable of my necks. :)

I'd also like to know if there are other brands out there that offer stable necks that can stay consistant across temperatures and humidity levels.


Cheers
 

rsf1977

Fractal Fanatic
I did some research on aluminum guitars a while back and found some interesting things you should really think about. The biggest issue is that the thermal expansion of aluminum is about 100 times greater then that of wood. So staying in toon when temperatures are fluctuating is going to be a nightmare. I know my wood guitars have issues just from warming up in my hands after 15-20 min on if they've been in a cool room I can't imagine that magnified by 100.
 

MotherSea

Experienced
I did some research on aluminum guitars a while back and found some interesting things you should really think about. The biggest issue is that the thermal expansion of aluminum is about 100 times greater then that of wood. So staying in toon when temperatures are fluctuating is going to be a nightmare. I know my wood guitars have issues just from warming up in my hands after 15-20 min on if they've been in a cool room I can't imagine that magnified by 100.


That is certainly something I overlooked. It makes perfect sense. I guess I have been focusing so much on the idea of a (pretty much) perfectly stable neck.

Can you point me in the direction of a aluminum guitar user actually claiming or refuting this fact about expansion affecting tuning? All I can find is one measly comment about how this happens only on guitars with aluminum necks and wooden bodies.
 

rsf1977

Fractal Fanatic
http://www.jsguitarforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=103286
An interesting point, Martin; having worked with alum. of various grades for the past 10 years I'm aware of the expansion characteristics you mentioned and I've seen alum. "grow" with very slight increases in temp. The average coefficient of thermal expansion for 7075 aluminum (68° to 212°F) = 13.1 x 10-6 (inch per inch per °F). Looks like the body mass of the instrument itself would dissipate the induced body heat. Ambient temperature will have the greatest effect on the tuning of the instrument and seems like it'll be a constant battle to keep it right. I wonder if I could manuf. after-market heatsinks or aux. cooling fans for these babies. However, finding a suitable place to mount them may pose a problem. The designers should have installed a radiator in that thing.

http://musicthing.blogspot.com/2007/04/aluminium-guitars-carved-by-computer.html
Consider that Aluminums thermal rate of expansion is probably a hundred times greater than wood, this thing could go out of tune when the breeze blows.
 
P

plexi59

Guest
It's only about 5x as much, but yeah, something to consider.
 
P

plexi59

Guest
Another thing to consider is that steel expands 3-4x as much as wood as well, so longer neck could actually compensate for longer strings.
 

Ochanomizu

Inspired
Hmmm, thanks for sharing the info.

BTW, do check out the Vigier guitars. I'm generally happy with the neck.

As a side point though, I have had some problems on the Vigier with both the zero fret and the deep string slot in the tremolo block (causes the end windings of the string to come across the saddle... not good).

I "solved" the zero fret problem by having to buy a few from the manufacturer (go figure), and for the strings I switched to Fender Bullets on my Vigier (which is a slight bummer because the manufacturer recommends Ernie Balls, which result in the string winding coming over the top of the saddle). Workarounds are never my preferred approach, but it is playable now and I'm finally enjoying playing it. :)


Cheers
 

angello120

Inspired
Travis Bean made alum/necks but they put wood inserts in them as players found that the metal chilled the muscles in the hand and caused cramp, specially in cold venues, Valeno' ? veleno, made all metal guitars with pointy heads and chrome or gold plated finish , The Talbo's still come up on e-bay from japan and make good money.
 

Sidivan

Fractal Fanatic
Here's another thing nobody thought of, if you heat it with a torch it may burn your hands OR may melt as opposed to burning. Also, if you take it into the shower it may get wet and ruin the pickups!!!!

You say that as if you think thermal expansion is a laughable thing to consider. I live in North Dakota. Temeratures here range from 80 below zero in January to 100 above in July. Not to mention the massive difference simply walking from the car in the parking lot to the bar itself with a guitar in it's case. A greater thermal expansion rate would be a very large problem in this environment not only from a tuning perspective, but from a playability/neck adjustment perspective. Playing an outdoor show in July might get a little interesting with an aluminum body amassing heat.
 

MotherSea

Experienced
Taken from an email thread I have going with Matt from Obstructures:



"In my 15+ years of experience with aluminum instruments I have found them to stay in tune better than the wood guitars I have owned. This is true for Travis beans, and our guitars. I cannot say the same for the Kramer aluminum necks, but it was more a nut/bridge issue than the neck material. Never head anyone complain about a bean going out of tune. Kevin from Electrical Guitar Company (have you heard of these guys? they make AL instruments as well, hollow body)
has never had issues, and only praise for how well his instruments stay in tune. In all of the 30+ instruments I have sold over the past 10 years I have never had a complaint regarding tuning issues either.

Aluminum does dissipate heat quicker than wood, and so one would imagine that it would then expand/contract rapidly causing tuning problems. Say the instrument were extremely hot and then cooled down quickly. Even then, the effect is negligible from my many summer tour experiences. Lets say the guitar was out in a car freezing- well, since aluminum does not retain heat well it will take a while to warm up, so slowly in fact that you would have to play an incredibly long set without tuning to notice any issues.

Wood on the other hand flexes like crazy, and its tendency to take on moisture causing neck bends and warps make it far more susceptible to tuning issues in my opinion. I have never heard of anyone using an aluminum guitar, or aluminum necked guitar having issues with tuning that were a fault of the material it was made from-- from faulty tuning keys, strings sticking in the nut, yes-"
 

Stephen13

Inspired
My good friend Frank had a Kramer guitar that had an aluminum neck with wood inserts. The guitar could sustain forever but as soon as you got it under stage lights it would go out of tune. It made for a great studio guitar but playing LIVE with it was out of the question.
 

Scott

Inspired
Travis Bean made alum/necks but they put wood inserts in them as players found that the metal chilled the muscles in the hand and caused cramp, specially in cold venues, Valeno' ? veleno, made all metal guitars with pointy heads and chrome or gold plated finish , The Talbo's still come up on e-bay from japan and make good money.


Travis Bean did *not* put wood inserts in their necks, you're thinking of Kramer's aluminum neck models which are what Kramer instruments first started producing when Eddie Kramer left Travis Bean guitars to start his own company. The Kramers are vastly inferior to the Beans in my opinion, but Bean had the big issue of being a money-losing rather than money-making company.

Veleno guitars aren't really still around. There were surplus parts left from when they closed shop whatever it was, 30 years ago, which were discovered and assembled into "new" instruments a few years back.

Travis Bean made only one type of instrument- aluminum neck-through with a wood body. Mostly Koa.

Veleno made only one type of instrument, aluminum bolt-on necks with aluminum bodies.

Kramer made the worst, wood body, aluminum bolt-on neck.

I owned a TB-1000A for a while, as well as one of the Kramer aluminum neck basses. And I've never owned a Veleno but I played one owned by a friend and didn't like it so much.

I am the proud owner of two Electrical Guitar Company guitars, technically one guitar and one baritone, and I have a third on the way which is, at this point, about two years in the making. My first EGC is #032, a totally custom 30" scale baritone. 8 strings on it, it's like a 6 string but with the first and second strings doubled like a 12-string guitar. Kevin mentioned it specifically in the EGC write up in Premier Guitar magazine last year.

That one is an aluminum neck-through with a wood body (from a Gibson G3 actually). 30" scale tuned A-A. Kevin made it for me back in 2005. My second is an aluminum bolt-on neck that he made for someone else, that neck is 24" scale... I bought the neck used and paired it with a Jackson Kelly body (which would have come with a 24 fret 25.5" scale neck - turns out the 24" 22 fret neck is a perfect fit!). I have that one tuned Bb-C, in a "drop-D" style tuning except lower.

The new one, which is out for powder coating right now, is a 27.5" scale baritone, aluminum neck-through and aluminum body, 10 strings on this one. Like a 12-string guitar but with the thinnest pair of strings not there. It'll be tuned the same as my EGC/Jackson hybrid, down to Bb in a "drop-D" style tuning. That one is my own body shape design, too. Two years since I first sent the drawings to Kevin. It's been a hell of a long wait for me, and a major pain for Kevin.

Things have really taken off for EGC. Just a few years ago he was making instruments for himself and for a small group of not-terribly-famous people. More recently he's made instruments for a guy from Mastodon, Duane from The Jesus Lizard, King Buzzo from Melvins, and Robert Trujillo from Metallica. So it's getting harder and harder to get his time. He's got over 100 instruments on order right now just waiting for him to be able to work 50 hours a day instead of only 18.

The tuning this is an issue, but a small and easily manageable one. They stay in tune extremely well, once they're in tune. In the winter my baritone will drift a quarter step out of tune if I leave it in my cold car for a long time. And then it will be right back in tune when I warm it up to an appropriate temperature. It's not very different from a wood guitar in that respect, which also goes out of tune in with large temperature swings. But then, spring, summer, fall, it will stay in tune for months. Literally don't have to tune it for months.

Here's an article written about Kevin/EGC recently.

http://www.pnj.com/article/20110306...-his-trade?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE
 

Scott

Inspired
My good friend Frank had a Kramer guitar that had an aluminum neck with wood inserts. The guitar could sustain forever but as soon as you got it under stage lights it would go out of tune. It made for a great studio guitar but playing LIVE with it was out of the question.

The easiest way to deal with this is to bring it on stage before you play, leave it up there for a while under the stage lights, so it adjusts to temperature. Tune it before you start your set, and it's not going to drift much from that point, if at all, since it already acclimated to the ambient temperature on stage. I've played my aluminum-neck-through EGC baritone at a bunch of shows in the past 5 years since I got it. It's fine. I know lots of other people who play them live just fine as well.
 

MotherSea

Experienced
If what you're looking for a very stable neck, here's an option to consider that might work for you with a mod to your current axe... http://mosesgraphite.com/catalog/Electric_Guitar_Necks.html

Well, that brings up something I've been wondering about: how exactly are graphite necks more stable, and how do the Steinberger necks compare?

From Steinberger: " Cybrosonic™ neck featuring our patented graphite U-channel with adjustable truss rod uniquely crafted into a 3-piece, hard maple neck. We then add a smooth and durable phenolic fingerboard"
 
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