AweSome's 3D-printed guitar offers 76 analog pickup tones
By Paul Ridden
May 3, 2013
Multi-tone performance pickup specialist AweSome Musical Instruments has unveiled what's claimed to be the first commercially available 3D-printed guitar made in the US. Touted as virtually impossible to break (though the same can't be said for the supplied light gauge strings), the Les Paul-style AWE-3DG also sports a bank of rather interesting pickup selectors that open the door to otherwise hidden coil combinations for up to 76 different analog tones.
While not nearly as heart-stoppingly gorgeous as Olaf Diegel's Les Paul-shaped Spider or Atom guitars, the AweSome instrument is no less a marvel. We've not been told what process is used to create the 1.6-inch (41 mm) thick hollow body of the AWE-3DG, but we do know that it's 3D-printed using glass-filled nylon (similar to DPA). Rather than spoil its futuristic look with layers of paints or stains, the guitar is offered in its "natural" off-white color (though the company does offer custom finishes as an option).
The 25.5-inch scale neck hasn't been printed. Instead, it's fashioned from maple with a satin finish on the back, and a glossy front to the head. There's neck-to-bridge reinforcement and a 21-fret rosewood fingerboard out front. The 0.008 to 0.038 gauge Ernie Ball Extra Slinky strings run from a hardtail bridge with adjustable saddles, over a synthetic bone nut, and on to the deluxe chrome staggered tuners.
The 6.4-lb (3-kg) guitar comes supplied with two standard T.V. Jones PowerTron humbucker pickups, and something called the T4-Switch sat between the volume and tone pots.
When you use that run-of-the-mill pickup selection switch on your Les Paul copy, you get a choice of three different tones. Some guitars spoil you with five. The bank of six T4 pickup selection switches grant much more access to the instrument's analog pickup tones.
Three of the switches offer control over two of the pickup coils which, according to the blurb, allows a player to "turn each one on and off (both in normal phase and reverse phase) and also lets you select whether the two pickup coils will be in a parallel or series circuit." The remaining coils are at the mercy of the other three switches.
In all, 76 different variations can be unlocked – and this is before your analog or digital processing unit(s) get the chance to add even more flavoring to your output.
The AWE-3DG is made to order, and there's a waiting list. You can express your interest on AweSome's website and, when it comes time to set the wheels in motion, you'll be contacted for prepayment. The limited-edition, 3D-printed AweSome guitar starts at a penny short of US$4,800. Each instrument is supplied with a custom hardshell case.
Update 05/05/13: The AWE-3DG guitar is printed using EOS P730 laser sintering machines, with a build area of 28 x 15 x 23 inches that allows complete bodies to be produced in one sitting (rather than having to bond separate sections together).
Source: AweSome Musical Instruments