10 ridiculously cool Steampunk guitars

19th Feb 2009 | 16:24

Gears, cogs, 6 strings: axes for Victorians

If you're a Steampunk virgin: welcome to a world of Victorian era steam power-inspired art where modern technology collides with hammered brass and exposed mechanisms. In other words, the coolest modded gear you will ever see.

You can pretty much give any object a Steampunk makeover, but because we really, really love guitars, the following are the shiniest examples of Steampunk axes to grace the earth.

Some were born from pure hard graft (welding, moulding and hacking), while others are Steampunk merely by virtue of the materials they were built with. Enjoy…

10. Resonator guitar

Some resonator guitars – particularly the Dobro pictured below – are perfect examples of the latter. Wood body + metal resonator plate = a Steampunk project waiting to be finished!

Resonator guitar

9. Resonator mandolin

Ok, so the mandolin sways to the lute side of the guitar family, but it's another stringed wonder of the 'Steampunk by mistake' variety. It beats the resonating guitar thanks to its complex-looking tailpiece.

Resonator mandolin

8. Cigar box guitars

Now we're getting to the homemade nitty gritty: old battered cigar boxes and copper decorations. Note the inspired use of a skeleton key as a bridge. If you're lacking in the DIY department, you can buy one of these Mark Melchior creations from Vaper Valley Guitars. Tempting…

Cigar box guitars

7. The Clockwork Strat

This is a Fender US Highway One series Stratocaster so, quite understandably, its owner Jake von Slatt didn't fancy messing with it. Instead, exhibit seven is a guitar with a beautifully-Steampunked scratchplate. Take a brass plate, a "gears, cogs and a flywheel" design and get laser printing. Easy?

Clockwork strat

6. Steampunk acoustic

This unnamed acoustic is probably unplayable. In fact, it looks very much like a wind-up self-playing mechanism – an early robot guitar, perhaps? Regardless, the perfect contrast of golden cogs and worn wood make us want to caress it, whether it's purposefully Steampunked or not.

Steampunk acoustic

5. Abney Park's bass

Abney Park are a Steampunk band. Confused? We'll let them explain: "Abney Park comes from an era that never was, but one that we wish had been. An era where airships waged war in the skies, and corsets and cummerbunds were proper adventuring attire." It goes without saying, then, that the band's guitars are Steampunked to the max. What was once a Gibson Thunderbird

Abney park bass

4. Abney Park's guitar

This used to be an Ibanez RG 7-string. The intricate detail of the cogs is remarkable, to say the least. You can see the various arduous stages of the guitars creation on Porkshanks' Flickr stream.

Abney park guitar

3. The Nautilus

The first of two magnificent Thunder Eagle Guitars' creations, this axe (and its name) was inspired by the film 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. The one-time Dean ML features a submarine-like porthole window which surrounds a sound-activated blue plasma lightning dish. A selection of brass, copper and oak accessories complete the look.

The nautilus

2. Organum Insolitus

Designed and built by Mark Dalzell for the 2008 Jersey City Artists Studio Tour. This beast of a Strat boasts one humbucker controlled by the little red tap, a working patch bay for effects and amplifier connection and a built-in television. Yes, that's right, a television. Unbelievable.


Organum insolitus

1. The Villanizer

Thunder Eagle's Villanizer was born a humble Jackson Randy Rhoads. A length of copper pipe, a custom-made oil gauge, handful of intricate gears and a rusty/hammered paint job later and it's the finest example of a Steampunk guitar you will ever, ever see.

The villanizer

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