A 3D Printed Electric Guitar to Feed Your Power Animal

I work at MyMiniFactory.com as a 3D artist and I never thought that, one day, I would be able to 3D print the full body of an electric guitar.  But, after a few months of experiments and testing, I’m very happy to have completed my third electric guitar body, working entirely in ZBrush.  I’ve decided to create the third one to carry on my collection and studies about 3D printing instruments.

3D printed 4theswarm guitar back

I’ve started the project using a base mesh of my first guitar, an electric guitar inspired by the work of HR Giger. The software that I’ve used was Zbrush throughout the entire workflow, including the optimization of the joints.  The Zbrush sculpting that I did this time was my personal concept, even the shape of the guitar itself.

3D printed 4theswarm guitar lionMy concept takes inspiration from nature and, in particular, from animals as symbols of power: the lion, shark and eagle. Air, ground, and sea all together in the same piece.  And, I have made a couple of improvements to this guitar, compared to my previous HR Giger and HP Lovecraft models:

1) On the top left part of the body, I decided to create a handle that fits the design flow, and, at the same time, reduces a lot of material use, allowing the guitar to be much lighter than the previous concepts.

2) This time, everyone will be able to print this guitar on a normal desktop 3D printer: Replicator, Ultimaker, Dremel, Zortrax, etc. Not just using a WASP machine.

3) There is also a drastic decrease in terms of printing time: around 65 hours of printing vs over 100 hours for the previous guitars, a good 35-40% less.

4) The body seems to be much lighter than the previous guitars, in particular the HP Lovecraft model. This is due, in part, to the top portion of the guitar, specifically the open handle.

5) The lion mouth and eagle allow for the possibility to add a strap to the guitar.

3D printed 4theswarm guitar details

Workflow in Zbrush

My starting point for the sculpt was to have a solid base model that I could begin with to modify, first, the general shape of the guitar – in other words, the silhouette of the guitar body.  In order to do this, I initialized my Zbrush canvas with a copy of the HP Lovecraft guitar and, using various brushes, I drastically decreased the border polygons using mostly a Trim Curve brush.

I’ve split the model in 7 parts during the sculpt, checking carefully the printability of each individual piece. Every time that you create a subtool in Zbrush for 3D printing, it is always a good idea to think about the support needed and if there is a way to speed up the printing.

3D printed 4theswarm guitar eagle zbursh model

Regarding the sculpting, I’ve added three spheres into the body to start the lion, shark and eagle concepts from scratch. I like to explore shapes and build everything from the primary forms, even if there are much faster ways in ZBrush to do so, like IMM and various tools that you can always add into your sculpt to speed up the process.

Having an extreme passion for creature design and bones, horns, and creepy shapes, I also sculpted the borders of the design to be reminiscent of a spine structure for the handle and a scale-like texture on the bottom side of the instrument. I personally liked the end result of the sculpting – not a hyper-detailed one, but I’ve tried to focus more on the optimisation of the entire product.

The process that requires more attention on a product like this is the dynamesh phase during the joint creation. Through selecting and masking, you can basically obtain a very clean result, even if you can’t check the proper thickness of the gaps. To do that, I just compared the gaps of the new guitar with an old model and increased it a bit more to even open up the possibility for the user to sculpt a different part and replace it with a new one without much effort.

The final piece includes a pickup cover and volume pots cover. Using screws and ordering various components, we can finally finish our guitar – of course, after 65 hours of printing using different printers.  Here is a list of the electronic components and all of the remaining parts that you’ll need to finish your project. The most expensive one is, without a doubt, the Seymour Duncan humbuckers set, around £100 on Amazon. Pretty amazing choice, trust me!

1) Pick ups

2) This neck

3) Bridge

4) Set of strings

5) Volume and tone pots

6) Volume and tone knobs

7) Neck plate

8) A machine head set