You suck at luthiering?

I have a lot of hobbies. Possibly too many. While auto racing currently occupies the plurality of my attention, I have been obsessed with lots of things, many of which are sports: skateboarding, tennis, basketball, lacrosse, fencing, archery, marksmanship, soccer, biking, climbing, etc.. On the non-competitive, artistic side, I have writing, music, and programming. Sometimes hobbies collide and weird shit happens. For example, I wrote a novel about car racing. This was done as part of the National Novel Writing Month, which takes place every November. No, you can’t read it. It’s horrible. The point of NaNoWriMo is to draft a novel in 1 month, not write something publishable.

In another car-meets-art effort, I’ve begun to make some guitars from valve covers. I don’t know anyone whose done this before. I’m calling these Overdrive Guitars. I’ve built 5 so far. The first was a bass guitar made from a 1.8L Miata. While this worked okay for bass, it’s a little large for guitar. So I went to the local Pick-n-Pull to look for something more suitable. Ideally, the neck fits into the gap between the cam lobes, and the cover shouldn’t be too thick. After a couple hours in the scrapyard, I came away with several Honda B18 and B20 covers.

The first prototype I built featured a B18A1. These were found in non-VTEC Acura Integras from 1990-1993. This is the 3rd guitar in the image below. I didn’t do any cutting on the body, but milled the neck to fit the slightly narrower gap between the cam lobes. The neck is 25.5″ scale length and the electronics are a pair of P-90 soap bars with dog ear covers. The bridge is a typical tune-a-matic affair. I was going to strip all the paint off it and then give it a proper paint job. But then I thought I was ruining part of the authentic aesthetic and left it unfinished. It is a prototype after all.

The next 3 guitars feature a 24.75″ scale length, as you would find on Gibson guitars. The guitar on the far left is another B18A1, but this time the body has been extensively modified. There is now a proper horn and the neck cavity has been milled to fit the neck. The pickups are once again P-90s, but this time without covers. The bridge is an interesting wrap-around design.

The 2nd and 4th guitars are both made from B20A5 covers, which were sourced from Preludes. These also feature cutaways for access to the higher frets. The pickup is a solo humbucker. The 3-way switch is therefore an on/off switch rather than a pickup selector. The bridge allows for anchoring through the rear or with sockets (I chose the latter).

In addition to these mostly finished models, I also have a B18B1 (94-01 Integra) guitar I just started. Building these guitars takes more time than you might guess. There’s a lot of work in cutting, abrading, and drilling the aluminum, but the biggest pain is making sure everything aligns properly.

How do they sound? Aluminum has good acoustic properties, and everything is put together solidly, so they sound good. If I didn’t suck at guitar, I’d upload something to YouTube. Maybe I will anyway, but not today.

Are they for sale? Yes. I plan on keeping one, but I’ll sell the others to recoup my expenses (and maybe get supplies for the next batch).

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