A Clockwork Guitar, the Steampunk Stratocaster

Author: | Posted in Art, Favorites, Projects, Steampunk 3 Comments

I have a Fender US Highway One series Stratocaster, which is a half decent guitar, but looks just like a million other Strats.  I had been planning to replace the pick guard with a black mother of pearl guard but my experiments in electrolytic etching made me think I'd like to try something a bit more unique.  Thus the Steampunk Strat was born.

I started by scanning the pick guard and printing out a bunch of copies that I could sketch on until I got the image that I wanted.

Next I carefully traced an outline of the pick guard and begun to draw my image.  The concept was to make the pick guard look like a brass clock escapement with gears, cogs and a flywheel.


scanning the pick guard  drawing the escapement for the clockwork guitar

Google images was instrumental in finding images of clock escapements I could cadge features from.  Once I had a good drawing I scanned it back into the computer and filled in the black area with the Gimp (a Linux image editor like Paint Shop Pro).  This gave me a mock-up to test on the guitar.


google images escapement  paper mockup of steampunk stratocaster

Next step was to cut the brass and to iron a laser printed reverse image on it.  See my article on Electrolytic Etching for the details of that process.

brass pick guard blank

There were some gaps and flaws in the toner mask so I touched it up with paint.

Into the copper sulfate bath, I made a nice cathode grid and a new plate holder out of brazing rod for this project.

etching clockwork guitar pick guard  cathode and anode for the etching tank

Mysterious energies etch away the copper and zinc components of the brass.  I love that blue!

blue cogs of mystery

The etched pick guard was cleaned up with steel wool, drilled and the pickup holes cut out.  Then painted with 2 coats of Krylon Ultra Flat Black.

etched fender pickguard  flat black pick guard

After the paint dried overnight I sanded away the high spots, polished it a little with some more steel wool and gave it a couple of  coats of lacquer.

sanding pick guard

I painted the pickup covers and knobs with Krylon Plastic Fusion paint and re-assembled the pick guard to the guitar. If you are interesting in making your own, the original artwork can be found here.
The Clockwork Steampunk Stratocaster Guitar
The finished Clockwork Steampunk Stratocaster !
  1. Posted by Daryn
    • Posted by Jake von Slatt
  2. Posted by Jayster