Acrylic Guitar- Are They Worth the Money?
Since the modern electric guitar was invented, there have been several creators who have built some interesting guitars. Some quirky models are crafted out of concrete or stone and the contemporary version is 3D plastic guitar bodies. A guitar body material which has been crafted for many years is acrylic. That is what it is commonly referred to as of now. So want to know more about an acrylic guitar and whether they are worth the money? Read all about it here…
Acrylic is often described as a transparent thermoplastic which means a see-through polymer which can be formed into any shape you desire when heated. This material has been sold in the market under various names – Plexiglas, Lucite or Acrylite. When viewed on a guitar, it is simply known as acrylic. The first famous guitar crafted out of this material was the 1961 Stratocaster. They started building it in 1957 and it was completed around 1961. See-through guitars have been available for over five decades. Acrylic bodied guitars are still constructed and sold today frequently. You might not find it in a store but you can buy them online on eBay. Leading brands will construct at least one of these.
Is it Ok to Construct a Bass Guitar with an Acrylic Body?
You should only make a bass guitar with an acrylic body if you’re experienced in weight reduction. A heavy guitar is a simple way to damage your back and affect your guitar strap as well. The 1961 Stratocaster mentioned above which is made of Lucite weighs 18 pounds which is a heavy guitar. Weight is your top adversary when crafting guitars out of acrylic. When you see the clear, transparent body you may feel it’s lightweight when in reality it’s not. Thermoplastic is a heavy material by itself.
Ways to Reduce Weight of an Acrylic Guitar Body
You have three alternatives when thinking of reducing the weight of an acrylic guitar body –
1. Go for a Smaller Body
2. Get a Thinner Body
3. Opt for Chambering
Smaller Body means making the body smaller when building the guitar. Thinner body means the basic body shape keeps its size but you slim down the body by 20% or as much as possible. All these methods should be adopted during designing the body of the guitar before the body is constructed.
Reason Why You Opt for an Acrylic Body
You will go get an acrylic body because it looks good when lighted up. It gets the audience’s attention. It looks cool when compared to other bass guitars out there.
How Acrylic Effects Tone
Acrylic does nothing for the tone of the guitar. When discussing tonal character or tonal quality, you will depend on the pickups’ voicing. While you can choose the pickup you want for your guitar, it is recommended to use hot-output pickups. You will have no idea of how the bass sounds until you put it all together and you’re still in the dark of what pickups sound like when combined with an acrylic body. You can make up for that with the help of hot-output pickups. If you think the bass sounds have fallen flat, you can put an overdrive effect that will operate better with additional signal and make up for sound flatness. Maybe your acrylic-body construct won’t be the main guitar you play with. The main reason you have it is because it looks awesome with LED lights. Don’t expect it to sound good. You are lucky if it sounds great when construction is completed. If it doesn’t, you can tune it until it sounds good since it will be used for on-stage tricks.
Dan Armstrong Acrylic Guitars by Ampeg
Ampeg is a New Jersey-based amp manufacturer wanted to be a trailblazer in the bass and electric guitar world. In 1968, Ampeg approached one of the most admired luthiers and guitar players: Dan Armstrong. Armstrong was renowned for his accomplished modification and guitar repair expertise. In 1967, he also toured with Van Morrison and was considered being a sought-after player. His clientele included the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Wes Montgomery.
After Ampeg collaborated with Armstrong, he put all of his imagination and talents into his visionary project. His aim was to craft something different from what leading brands like Gibsons and Fenders were presenting. He wanted his new guitar to be constructed from high-quality materials, look stylish and have greater sustainability. As he was from New York City, he was knowledgeable of the growing marketability of acrylics used in furniture and jewelry. He felt that the time was apt to present this exclusive material in a guitar–keeping the weight and cost low. Armstrong’s guitars owned acrylic bodies and had wooden necks. It looked like the perfect combination of wood and new-age Lucite. His product brochures flaunted a fresh body, which was denser, doing away with unrequired frequencies and vibrations and supporting notes pretty well. Armstrong also revealed the advantages of having no chipped off paint and how scratches were hidden and polished up. An outstanding feature was the guitar’s stunning new look. Armstrong favored Danelectro Longhorn basses and crafted his brand-new six-string guitars and bass with cutaways for effortless reach to upper frets. The guitar bodies were slim and contoured but it weighed nine pounds.
The necks were crafted out of maple wood, the fretboards out of rosewood and Formica was utilized for the overlay and the pickguard. He wanted this guitar to have a country, rock and jazz tone alternatives and collaborated with electronics master Bill Lawrence to invent six pickups for his guitars. It was popularly referred to as “Rock Treble” and “Deep Bass”. The acrylic top of the guitar was built so that the pickups could function. This was an innovative move back in 1969.
Presented at the 1969 NAMM show, Ampeg had a groovy hit in its lineup. Armstrong’s guitars were the most trendsetting ever. The stylish transparent shape and looks, they sounded great too. They weren’t inexpensive but were still affordable for guitarists and musicians. The popular band Rolling Stones played the transparent guitars on the band’s memorable North American Arena Tour in 1969. Other renowned artists who played Ampeg’s Dan Armstrong basses and guitars included Leslie West and Paul McCartney.
The Ampeg and Dan Armstrong collaboration came to a sour end in 1971. They had separate agendas in mind. The bohemian Armstrong wanted to create innovative high-grade guitars while Amped wanted to make a best-selling, inexpensive and easy-to-make guitars. Working with Lucite as a material took up a lot of time and it has a lot of denseness to it. Combined with Ampeg’s financial difficulties and a downward turn in the instrument industry, it’s easy to know why the collaboration ended after a mere three years. Other transparent guitars and Lucite were never brought into the mainstream; they are still being created owing to their stylish 70s and 80s vibe. They are popular even after 50 years. Amped has released their outstanding Dan Armstrong bass versions and guitars many times, and manufacturers such as Dillon have come up with transparent guitars which they have built.
Acrylic Guitars – How Playable Are They
Before the Internet introduced us to online shopping and e-commerce, most individuals had only a onetime chance to see an acrylic-body guitar. You had a good chance of spotting them on the wall of a pawn shop or see one onstage at a rock concert or show. guitar manufacturers did not make them a lot, as not a lot of buyers were demanding them, and not a lot of people knew they even existed. The Rolling Stones musician Keith Richards played the acrylic guitars in the late 60s but except for the Dan Armstrong versions created by Ampeg, acrylic guitars were not a product you could just purchase as a first-impulse buy. Online websites like e-bay and Amazon changed that trend. The variety of acrylic electric guitars has grown, competition has reduced the price and cheap imports are now available at a low cost of a hundred dollars. Acrylic versions are tinted, clear or have design intricacies like glitter included in the guitar material. They have an attractive appearance when played on stage.
They remain unusual pieces, something for the audience to gaze at while the band plays the music. In dark arenas, the lights onstage reflect off the surface of the guitar. When you see it in light, the body is transparent with the wiring and other features easily seen. They look awesome in a live show but people know that there is a lot more to a guitar than what’s visible. Acrylic is a heavier material compared to wood and echoes differently. Producing neither light nor heavy tone, it is easily used onstage and plays variant styles without labeling the player.
A fabulous feature of acrylic is that it is very versatile. Any guitar shape can be created from this type of material. Those variant body types can be favored by guitar players who play different styles of music. Those who buy an acrylic guitar are interested in changing them-and some cheaper models demand improved tuning machines and better pickups. That is a sensible option when so many players are looking for an acrylic version for on-stage or live performances. They have to a lot more than just look fantastic.
Acrylic Guitar Models Available Online
Here are some Acrylic guitar models available for sale online:
1. 6 Strings Dan Electric guitar Crystal Acrylic Body Rosewood: This guitar’s fingerboard is crafted out of rosewood and has a maple neck. The body is made of acrylic and it is a fully customized piece.
2. Pango Acrylic Body Electric guitar (PAG-006): This guitar’s body is crafted out of acrylic and has a maple neck. The fingerboard is constructed out of rosewood and is a 6 stringed instrument with a volume knob.
3. Strat LED Light Electric guitar Frets Light Guitar Acrylic Body Crystal Guitar: This guitar has a scale size of 628mm with a fingerboard made of maple. The body is crafted out of acrylic and the neck is maple too.
4. LED Light Electric guitar Acrylic Body Crystal Guitar: The body is acrylic with the neck and fingerboard made of maple. The scale size is 648mm and has a bridge which is Floyd rose.
5. 5 Strings Electric Bass guitar with Colorful LED Light Acrylic Crystal Guitar: The neck is made of maple and fingerboard out of rosewood. The body is acrylic, and the hardware built out chrome. The manufacturer is Starshine Musical Instrument Factory which is a leading manufacturer with over 12 years of experience in manufacturing acoustic guitars, electric guitars, bass guitars, etc.