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Metal Resonator guitar build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Muzikp, May 31, 2018.

  1. Muzikp

    Muzikp Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Nov 5, 2010
    Sacramento
    My wife bought me a National Style O guitar many years ago for my birthday and for some stupid reason I sold it.

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    I want another one so... how hard could it be.

    I'm going to prototype one out of aluminum which should help me develop all the templates and jigs so I can make steel ones and hopefully brass ones. The National Style O is brass, eventually I would like to try brass.

    Here's my sheet of aluminum. 5052-H32 grade which is easily machined and welded.

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    I have no idea how to make one of these so you'll see some failures here. There isn't much info online about the construction of one of these.

    I started in CAD. The Style O I had was a 12 fret version but I always wished it was a 14 fret version. Meaning the neck meets the body at the 14th fret instead of the 12th. I think the only 14 fret versions are from the 30's unless someone is reproducing them these days. So here's my 14 fret drawing.

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    Not sure why I did such a lousy job screen capturing that... anyway.

    I decided to start by making the sound well, which is a bottomless bowl that the resonator cone sits in, looks like this (not my guitar).

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    I cut out the ring which makes the bottom edge first.
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    And who doesn't like a sideways picture?

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    Then I made a wood form to bend the sides of the soundwell around.

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    And drilled some holes part way thru it for clamps. Think RogerC gave me this idea on something else #gamechanger

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    My plan was to simply wrap the aluminum strip around it and weld it together at the seam.
    I'm using really thick aluminum here because I had it laying around.

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    That was a massive struggle. It had an element of danger to it because of the tension the thing was under. I was worried one of those cheap clamps would break and hurt me. After fighting it all the way around the form it just sprung back to twice the size as the form. It was an entire day of bending wasted.

    So I made a smaller form hoping overbending it would let it spring back closer to the correct size.

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    That failed also.

    I managed to get it round and not spring back but when I applied heat to braze it together it just went all wonky. FAIL!

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  2. Muzikp

    Muzikp Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Nov 5, 2010
    Sacramento
    So I turned to my CJ5 Jeep forum friends for advice and learned two things. Heating the aluminum after it's formed will make it lose it's spring back and it's safer to bend this ring inside a form than outside.

    So I grabbed a piece of mild steel to make a new form. Same concept as the aluminum idea but steel bends very nice. This was easy.

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    After welding it I did a little anvil type forming to get it perfectly round.

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    Bought some thinner aluminum and bent it inside this ring. No danger, no struggle. Once I had it inside I heated the whole thing so it wouldn't spring back.

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    Worked perfect. Brazed it together.

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    I needed a form or template for the body shape so I glued up some 3" thick poplar.

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    And made this

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    Which turned into this

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    I deided that since the steel form worked so well for the soundwell that I would make one for bending the sides.
    More mild steel

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    And got carried away and didn't take any pics of this process.

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    I am super pround of this form, it's nearly perfect. Look how well the wood template fits inside it.

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    I only stuck the wood inside about 1/2" because it's really hard to get it out. You can see my wood template took a beating from tack welding the steel form together on it.
     
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  3. Muzikp

    Muzikp Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Nov 5, 2010
    Sacramento
    With that sorted out it was time to start cutting up my aluminum sheet.

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    This stuff bends pretty easily so I decided to pre-bend it and heat it on the wood form to make it easier to get inside the steel form. Smelled like a BBQ.

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    Then I stuck it in the steel form and heated it more.

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    Then I got carried away again and forgot about pics, but here's the result.

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    Turned out really well. I'm pleased with the shape. Next step will be cutting out the top and back and seeing how hard it is to make f-holes.
     
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  4. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Wow. Subscribed. Great looking parts. I guess you must be good at welding aluminum.
     
    Fiesta Red likes this.

  5. DonM

    DonM Tele-Afflicted Ad Free Member

    Age:
    70
    Apr 21, 2016
    Henderson,NV/SLC,UT
    Very impressive! I can barley handle aluminum foil.
     
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  6. Barncaster

    Barncaster Doctor of Teleocity

    How much coffee did you drink this morning?????
     

  7. Tonetele

    Tonetele Friend of Leo's

    Jun 2, 2009
    South Australia
    Great metal working skills.
    (That's something I cannot do after a bad burn to my hand in my 20's.)
    Looks like you have a great steel guitar coming along.:)
     

  8. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 19, 2006
    Gilbert, AZ (PHX)
    Your material looks considerably thicker than what these are normally made out of.

    I made a tricone about 1999 or 2000 out of german silver. I bought the cover plate, cones, bridge and tailpiece and made the rest.

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    Last edited: May 31, 2018
    LPTyler, P Bill, naneek and 3 others like this.

  9. Chordophonic

    Chordophonic Tele-Meister

    244
    Oct 4, 2013
    Isle of Wight UK
    Wow! Subbed to this one! Great project!

    Ally bends easier if annealed (softened) first, Backyard method, draw all over the surface of the piece you want to bend with a block of hand soap, heat with torch until the soap goes black, allow to cool naturally, ally is now annealed....
     
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  10. P Bill

    P Bill Tele-Meister

    Age:
    71
    111
    Feb 21, 2018
    Range View, Australia
    Well done! Very keen to watch this one.
     

  11. Davecam48

    Davecam48 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

    Age:
    70
    Dec 31, 2009
    Queensland Australia
    Jeez I hate you guys that can work metal like that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Great skills! Beautiful stuff!!

    DC
     
    Alamo likes this.

  12. Jupiter

    Jupiter Telefied Silver Supporter

    Jun 22, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    What fun!

    And I would never attempt this. :lol:
     

  13. BluesBlooded

    BluesBlooded Friend of Leo's

    This is an exciting build. Will enjoy every moment of it. Thanks for sharing.
     

  14. LeftFinger

    LeftFinger Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    68
    Aug 16, 2015
    Saskatchewan
    They taught us to use a smokey acetylene flame . When the piece was covered with soot it was annealed
     
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  15. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

    Apr 17, 2007
    Big D
    A
    W
    E
    S
    O
    M
    E
    !!!!!

    the amount of knowledge on this site never ceases to amaze me!
     

  16. Macrogats

    Macrogats Tele-Afflicted

    Age:
    51
    May 15, 2017
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Great looking build. I'm in!
     

  17. Obsessed

    Obsessed Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

    Nov 21, 2012
    Montana
    Wow, I did not know this about you. More pics please.
     

  18. Maricopa

    Maricopa Friend of Leo's

    Age:
    52
    Feb 4, 2009
    Phx, AZ
    Your material looks considerably thicker than what these are normally made out of.

    Yeah, to say the least. I've built 5 or 6 met body resos and that seems way too thick, even being aluminum. Be interesting to hear it when it's done.
    Here's some pics of a thin-bodied brass electric I made a few years back. It's built a bit differently than a full acoustic model but uses the same .030" sheet metal.

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    well_const1.jpg together_front.jpg
     
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  19. Muzikp

    Muzikp Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Nov 5, 2010
    Sacramento
    I think the banister is up to the task tho. We'll talk again in a few years when the DPP is done :lol:.
     
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  20. Muzikp

    Muzikp Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Nov 5, 2010
    Sacramento
    Wow, I didn't expect all the interest. Thanks everybody.

    Regarding the thickness. That first piece of aluminum I was bending for the ring was just a test and yes it is WAY thick. But the stuff I'm actually using is .080". I don't have a specific reason for that thickness, it's just what looked good to me when I bought it. The .030" must be sooo much easier to work with but seems so flimsy, especially if it's aluminum. My National weighed a lot and so far I feel like this one is going to be really light even with the .080". Being aluminum I figured it should be thicker than german silver, brass or steel but it was just a guess. I feel like this first attempt may not go that well so I'll revisit the thickness if I have to start again.

    Maricopa - Your idea for bending the ring is genius, I love it. I am going to redo mine like you did. Are the tabs you bent over strong enough to hold the cone firmly, it seems like a lot of string pressure on the cone to be supported by the thin tabs. I understand the neck supports the ring in two spots, and the nationals have some additional wood supports as well. Do you have any more info on that? I feel like those tabs would just bend down under string pressure and the cone would fall out. Is the brass brazed together or welded somehow?

    Mike - Please more pics and more info. I have a million questions. Is german silver brazed together? How did you bend that lip in the top at the edge? How did you construct your sound well? Does your neck go all the way through and support the sound well? I guess your sound well or wells in your case are different than a single cone but similar concept I'm assuming.

    Thank you all for the info and pics, it's a tremendous help.
     
    naneek likes this.

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