Rock stars have been smashing guitars for decades, few with more enthusiasm than Swedish-born guitar virtuoso Yngwie Malmsteen.
So global engineering company Sandvik decided to test their cutting-edge technologies by building the world’s first all-metal, unbreakable guitar and letting Malmsteen unleash his smashing skills on it.
Sandvik engineered the smash-proof guitar to demonstrate how advanced, precise and sustainable the company’s techniques are. Engineers eliminated the joint between the neck and body. Instead, the guitar’s neck and fretboard were milled in one machine from solid bars of recycled stainless steel, a guitar construction that had never been tried before. Both the neck and fretboard extended into a rectangular “hub” that would reach deep into the guitar’s body.
Meanwhile, another challenge was how to manufacture the guitar body, an extremely complex design due to the need for high strength at low weight.
Sandvik, relied on its world-leading expertise in metal powder and additive manufacturing, decided to 3D print the body. Lasers traced a design in beds of fine titanium powder, fusing layers of material one on top of the other. The layers, each thinner than a human hair, built up into the body of the guitar.
“Additive manufacturing lets us create lighter, stronger and more flexible components with internal structures that would be impossible to mill traditionally,” said Amelie Norrby, an additive manufacturing engineer who participated in the guitar project. “And it’s more sustainable because you only use the material you need for the component, minimizing waste.”
When the guitar was finished, Sandvik gave it to Malmsteen to play. At a club in Florida, Malmsteen ripped through several songs, then started swinging the guitar at amps, at stage structures, at the floor, doing his very best to smash it.
“This guitar is a beast!” Malmsteen said after abandoning efforts to destroy it. “Sandvik is obviously on top of their game. They put the work in, they do their hours. I can relate to that. The result is amazing. I gave everything I had, but it was impossible to smash.”
Malmsteen, named one of the ten greatest electric guitar players in the world by TIME Magazine in 2009, is known as much for the fury he unleashes on his guitars as for his musical dexterity. A master of neo-classical heavy metal, Malmsteen has produced 30 albums and has been smashing guitars onstage for over 30 years.