A 3D-Printed Acoustic Guitar

By the coming fall, Swarthmore’s maker space will be home to seven 3D printers. The three we already own have been put to use by the Engineering, Physics, Biology, and Art departments to name a few. Projects have ranged from architectural design to printing custom microscope parts. Yet another use for 3D printing is musical instrument design – check out the acoustic guitar pictured above. No, I can’t claim to have designed it myself (I found it on Thingiverse). Yes, it is a working guitar — and while its timbre is somewhat plastic-y, people have had a lot of fun playing it.

The guitar was fun to make, too. It was printed in six pieces: three sections for the body, two for the neck, and a single headstock. The original design called for nothing but superglue to hold those pieces together. Thanks to J. Johnson from Swarthmore’s engineering shop, our guitar has four aluminum pins supporting the neck and headstock joints. After the pieces were pinned and glued together, we added store-bought tuning machines and strings.

This project is still waiting for some finishing touches. The fret edges need to be filed, the entire body would benefit from sanding, and the guitar could use a creative paint job (get in touch to volunteer).

Keep an eye out for maker space events next semester. If you attend one, walk down the hall to the media center while you’re in Beardsley. You can explore 3D design programs yourself, or ask to play the guitar.