Muffler guitar build

beerbelly

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I found this band's video on YouTube and was just blown away and their sound, and also by the guitar & bass built from car mufflers.



So I decided to try to build one; I've already ordered a muffler, 2 exhaust tips, a paddle neck, some lug nut knobs and a small sheet of aluminum diamond plate. The trick will be how & where to open up the muffler in order to build an internal structure to attach the neck.
For simplicity's sake on the test build, I plan to use a couple of P90s and a top-load Tele half bridge that I have in spare parts, although Strat single coils, humbuckers and a mini hum are options. Should be an adventure.
 

Go Nigel Go

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That should indeed be a fun and interesting project. There are a lot of internal structures that you will have to work around (and use for support), as well as a lot of sound damping materials. They will be useful when designing the structure of your instrument, so take your time when opening up the body for routing and mounting your components.

The results in the video are nothing short of phenomenal, and certainly demonstrate what is possible with this unconventional construction. There are some interesting questions raised to the "tonewood" adherents who insist they are the only way to get good tone. :D

Having handled hundreds (if not thousands) of mufflers in my day as a mechanic, I can attest that they do not "ring", they are in fact designed NOT to ring. They are designed to create structurally stable chambers to dampen and direct the pulses of exhaust gases and turn them into a less energetic smooth even flow at the tail pipe. The structures however are remarkably solid, often capable of absorbing huge impacts, and in some cases even supporting the weight of the vehicle with minimal damage or loss of function. Definitely strong enough to make a stable guitar body providing you can identify and preserver enough suitable attachment points for the neck, tailpiece etc.

This will be an interesting project to follow. :cheers:
 

beerbelly

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Yes, my first thought was "Tonewood?- Ha!". I contacted the muffler manufacturer, and the tech's response was:
"I’ve had some crazy questions over the years pertaining to exhaust, but I think yours tops them all!!!!". They were kind enough to send drawings of the internals, so I know what I'm dealing with. And I have a friend with a plasma cutter who's excited to help out.

AP 690515 cutaway .png
 

Go Nigel Go

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Looks good. I would try to keep the internal baffles in tact as much as possible where they attach to the shell as they will provide a LOT of strength and support. Since the inlet and outlet pipes are solidly attached to those baffles, the internal pipes should also be solid enough to use to support attachment points instead of just relying on the stiffness of the outer skin. Just a few random thoughts. Of course the sky is the limit here, and there are not any real "rules" to guide or restrict your design.
 

beerbelly

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Based on the internal muffler detail, I plan to leave the outlet pipes & their supports intact. I'm hoping to eliminate the central pipe and replace it with a wooden support that the neck can be attached to. I may have to remove the end panel, but I'm hoping not to.
 

Decadent Dan

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Cool idea, I would make the support long enough for the neck and bridge to bolt into the same piece of wood. Make sure it’s long enough for scale and wide enough for neck plate and bridge posts/screws.
 

Von Trapp

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That is seriously bad ass! And I guess they're tone mufflers then or a lot of peoples theories about what makes a guitar sound good go right down the toilet...
 

Go Nigel Go

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Based on the internal muffler detail, I plan to leave the outlet pipes & their supports intact. I'm hoping to eliminate the central pipe and replace it with a wooden support that the neck can be attached to. I may have to remove the end panel, but I'm hoping not to.

Again, just a random thought, you might consider using epoxy or similar to cement one end of your wooden external neck pocket inside the center (inlet) pipe. No rules, but that is a solid attachment surface if you can find a good way to use it. I think using wood to make the neck pocket is a great idea, it would be easy to shape and the easiest way I can think of to make that critical neck joint. It is without a doubt the most difficult part of the build.
 

beerbelly

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I need some headstock design opinions. I'm definitely doing flames, but I'm undecided about the third "lick" of flame- keep it or cut off along the dotted line?

flames.jpg
 

Go Nigel Go

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I kind of like the "third lick" for what it's worth... not a strong preference, but that's my impression. I think either one will work fine.
 

beerbelly

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Here's a third design. I didn't care for the thin wood area under the high E tuner, so I beefed that up and put an even more dangerous tip on it. I'm starting to like this one, as I'm seeing a nice triangular shape to the design:

flames 3.jpg
 

Ronn David

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Sounds like a great project best of luck. This band rocks, I would think it would not be hard to find the guy who made these guitars for this band perhaps you could contact them for a few pointers
 


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