Whether you're new to the guitar or a seasoned git-fiddler, chances are that the shape, color and hardware of your go-to axe have been determined by the company that produces it. The cost of having an instrument made to your exact specifications can cause the heart to skip more than a few beats, and the bank manager to question your sanity. 3D printing technology has the potential to help create your dream guitar for a fraction of the cost of a Custom Shop model, and that's precisely what's on offer from the UK's Customuse. With three stock designs already available, the company will shortly open a browser-based platform for full customization.
Company founder Mahdi Hosseini says that the idea for Customuse came after his girlfriend was unable to find an inexpensive but unique guitar for him as a present. "I always had a passion for 3D printing, so when we were discussing the issues with the high cost of personalization of guitars due to inefficient manufacturing processes, I had one of those AHA moments," he said. "It all became clear, why not use the latest technology? That is when we came up with the idea to make personal, unique and affordable 3D-printed electric guitars."
Like Olaf Diegel's gorgeous creations, not everything on a Customuse guitar is 3D-printed. The printed body is wrapped around a CNC-machined tone wood block, the neck is still wood and hardware like bridge, pickups and tuners are as you would find them on a traditionally-made guitar.
"We use the state of the art SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) machines with very large print-beds," Hosseini told Gizmag. "This allows us to print our guitar bodies in a single piece using nylon 12 powder; hence creating a much more robust and resonant structure in comparison with other 3D printing technologies. The outcome is a very solid body with a smooth finish especially on the rounded edges. In the future, we aim to create a more available alternative for younger players using a more affordable FDM (Fused Deposition Molding) process. However, this method has its limitations and the final outcome would not compete with the current SLS models."
The company currently offers three pre-designed models, though only two have actually been 3D-printed so far. The Tele-shaped Sunrise is treated to a 25.5-inch scale American maple neck topped by a maple or rosewood fingerboard. It sports two Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups, master volume and control knobs, a wraparound bridge and Grover Mini Rotomatic inline tuners.
Looking like something that would easily find a home in Alice Cooper's band or in the capable hands of Slash, the Les Paul-shaped Necromuse comes with a 24.75-inch scale mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard, Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups, chrome Grover Mini Rotomatic tuners and a standard bridge and tailpiece.
If country twang or rodeo riots are more your thing, the saddle-packing RodeoMuse will likely tick your boxes. Also Les Paul-shaped, this yet-to-be-printed guitar features a 24.75-inch scale mahogany neck with a rosewood fingerboard, Seymour Duncan Alnico II Pro pickups, chrome/golden Grover tuner and a standard bridge and tailpiece.
All models are showing as available on the company's Etsy store for £1,500 (about US$2,500) each.
Customuse is currently in the process of building an online platform that will allow players to build custom guitars for 3D printing, as well as choose tone woods and select hardware. Using a browser-based application, customers will be able to select a desired guitar shape from a number of options, then select one of the company's templates (there will be a few variations of each design). After deciding on the color scheme, the customer will get to choose the hardware from a comprehensive list of stock components, including hard-tail or tremolo bridges, single-coil or humucking pickups, and neck profile and wood, opt for personalization and then confirm for printing and delivery about two weeks later.
"We allow customers to choose a tone wood that best matches their special tone," explains the company's founder. "For example we suggest mahogany or walnut for players who favor a warmer darker tone; and ash for a brighter result. If a player chooses to use our standard specs, we will fit the guitar with a tone-wood that we believe matches the pickups and the character of that particular model. We also use the same dimensions for all our wooden center block (with the exception of Sunrise) this means that the customers would be able to purchase a Customuse guitar today and change it into another guitar of a different shape later by ordering a new body."
The personal build platform is expected to be up and running by November, and each custom guitar will cost somewhere between £1,500 and £2,000, depending on configuration choices. There will also be a premium service offered where the player can sit down with one of the Customuse designers and build their ultimate personal instrument. This service will cost £5,000.