Picture of Build Your Own Electric Guitar!
Have you ever looked at a guitar and wondered, "How do they make that?" Or thought to yourself, "I bet that I could build my own guitar," but never actually tried it? I have built several electric guitars over the years and through trial and error have learned many helpful tips that anyone who might want to tackle this sort of project needs to know before starting out. This kind of thing does require some wood working skill and also requires some specific tools as well but not all the fancy stuff that a guitar manufacture has. Building an electric guitar is time consuming and requires the completion of several steps before your project gets finished but be patient and you'll be happy with the results. I tend to go into detail so as not skip any steps or tips you need along the way, and use pics from other projects that I did as well so you can get more that on reference. If you set out to make a guitar you'll find that it takes quite a bit of time so you'll have time enough to go back and read other info if you just want to skim through the first go round. So I hope this helps all the future guitar builders out there!

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JacksonC12 days ago

How do you do kind of like a Zebra pattern for the guitar.What do you mix on with the paint?

Very good instructable.
I build this one myself when I was 15. I wasn't alowed to buy one, so I asked my parents "what if I build one myself?" They said "OK", but they thought I couldn't do it. Man, were they wrong... :)
Zelfbouw 1 bis.jpg

email me to a killer supremely awesome guitar dude!!! "vampire guitar" j.

How much round about did that cost you? I have a guitar but I get bored easy and it'll be nice to actually build one myself
To be honest, I don't know. It was almost 40 years ago.
I only know that it wasn't half as much as a good ready made guitar would have costed me.
Later on I bought me a couple of other guitars. Not that my own build wasn't good enough, but just because I happened to love the ones I bought.
And to have a spare one of course... :-)
One of those, a guitar made by hand by a professional guitar builder, cost me a minimum of 4 times more than the one I put together myself.

Maybe you could make a list of the things you need and look around in the guitar shop. You have a good chance of finding all the pieces in a shop that has a repair service.
For the wood, you can inform yourself at the local carpenter's. Maybe they have some leftovers they don't use anymore. If you're lucky, you can get that for free. Just check the quality of the wood. Don't use wood that has cracks in it.
Dear Merlin.

I will soon build my own guitar (Im 12) and I have a question will the sound change if i make in the wood a hole to hold or carry the guitar and can i do it if i can that how big does it have to be ?

Hope to get your replay as soon as possible.


You can build a guitar in any shape you want.
Have a look at some of the guitars from different stars around; You'll see many different shapes, some even with a hole in the body to 'carry' the guitar.
Make the hole the size it needs to be so your fingers easily fit into it.

As you can read in the comment of zenguitar below, it might change the sound.
I realy don't know how much that change would be.

I have a question for you:
You write that you're 12, but your profile says you're 19.
Lost count over the years? ;)
Im 15 and i am wanting to build a guitar.. What kind of wood did you use on the body?
Hi there,

I used Meranti for the body. The neck is made out of beech.
Have fun building your own guitar.
Does the shape/material effect the sound?

Just a tiny little bit. Most of the sound is determined by the pickups.
If the guitar has a hollow body, the sound is influenced more. Especially if you play with a microphone eventually combined with the pickups.
That's because with a hollow body the body acts as an amplifier, not so with a solid guitar.
Since this is a solid guitar, the sound influence of the wood is practically zero.
The different woods give different looks, that's their main influence. ;)
I'm sorry to disagree Merlin, but the woods used really do make a big difference to the sound of a solid body guitar. Both the neck and body are resonators, the string energy drives the woods which damp some frequencies and use that energy to emphasise the resonant frequencies. That drives the string's vibration through the bridge/nut/fretboard. It's a feedback loop.

That is why pick-up manufacturers are always careful to explain that their pick-ups will sound different depending on the woods and construction of a guitar. Seymour Duncan (among many others) has written about this a lot, a you can read more on the Seymour Duncan website. You can also study more at the FRETS website, GAL (The Guild of American Luthiers), StewMac, and LMI (Luthier's Mercantile International).

You are correct, insofar as the pick-up can only pick up the string vibrations. But those vibrations are substantially modified by the materials and construction. In an acoustic the hollow box is the amplifier in combination with the height of the saddle, but the tone comes from the woods by a similar mechanism to that of the solid body guitar.

does it make any diference on the finish i want to use danish oil on my first guitar
will that change how it will sound
The way a finish can change the sound is when it forms a rigid, hard, shell that damps the vibrations of the woods. So a good finish for a musical instrument is one that allows the woods to vibrate freely but still offers good protection.

The good news is that an oil finish is a very good option for finishing a guitar, and a lot of guitarists actually prefer the oiled finish on the neck. Danish Oil and Tung Oil are both suitable for a guitar. So if you are happiest using Danish Oil, go ahead.

One oil finish that many luthiers use and recommend is Tru-Oil, which was originally formulated for finishing gun stocks. It is the oil finish that Luthier's Mercantile carries, and if you Google for Tru-Oil you will find plentry of information about using it on guitars including some very good instructions. And those instructions will help you with Danish Oil as well.

And congratulations on making your first guitar, I promise you that you will feel amazing the first time you play it. And every time someone says 'WOW!! You made it yourself?' you will feel great.

Thanks Andy for the info
I am a machinist i plan on making everthing from the body to the pickups even the tuners so this will take awhile but will be fun
thanks vern
Sounds good Vern. I can make truss rods and pick-ups but need to get my machining skills up to speed before tackling tuners and bridges etc, although I am very tempted to learn in the future.

Being a machinist will be a real advantage for you. The woodwork on guitars is actually pretty basic, but has to be very accurate. Many years ago one of my luthiery teachers described it was working wood to the tolerances usually found in engineering.

If it helps, Schaller have very accurate drawings of all their hardware on their website. You can also get very good drawings of all Gotoh parts as well, but theirs are harder to find (hidden in the parent company's site and I can't recall the full details). It is worth having a look at those, and pay attention to the way the tuning posts are shaped. That radiused section turned into the post is important , it really helps lock the strings firmly.

Best of luck and I promise two things. There will be frustrations along the way, but once you are finished it is deeply satisfying.

This is true, i made a guitar out of MDF to test this and it sounded terrible
yes different densities in the wood can give different tones
man i wish i could thumbs up this comment!
Very nice. I love wood finished guitars so much more over painted.
So much fun to build instruments

I can't even begin to imagine about what that would sound like but I'm sure it would be awesome.
Actually there are only three. They are humbuckers. The white ones I bought, the black one in the middle I made myself with little magnets and thin copper wire (0.2mm²). The magnets I got out of relays that were no longer used from an old telephone central.
did you actually make your own pick-up??
Yes I did. It's the middle one with the black top.
It's not that difficult, but you have to find the right materials.

I used a 4 mm thick piece of hardwood to make the base.
From twelve relays that came from a no longer used telephone central (many, many years ago) I recycled the magnet shafts (about 4 mm diameter and 3 cm long).
I drilled two lines of six holes (it's a humbucker) in the wooden base right at the center of each string and put the magnets in.
One row of magnets were put in with the north pole up, the other row with the south pole up.
If you cant drill the holes to be just a tiny bit smaller than the magnet shafts, you can apply some glue to it to make sure the magnets are in the holes very tight. They have to be unable to move.
The top of the pick-up I made from a 3 mm thick piece of plastic in which I drilled the same holes as in the base to fit the magnets through the plastic. Same goes here about the fitting in the holes.
Then I wound very thin (0.02 mm diameter) laquered copper wire around a couple of thick nails that had about the same size as the magnets.
These nails I had placed in another piece of wood at the width of the outer magnets.
Some 4000 windings go into one spool.
Some tape was applied to cover and fasten the copper windings.
The second spool was wound in the opposite direction.
Next I placed the two spools over the magnets and connected them so that they were connected as serial spools.
The start and end of the complete spool went through a 1mm hole in the base and were secured with a drop of glue in the hole.

You have to be carefull not to break the wire while winding a spool. If that happens, you have to start over. The spool needs to be in one piece for the best results.

I used two ballpoint springs and a couple of metal screws to attach the pick-up to the front plate of the guitar.
The screws drive into the wood directly. I drilled a smaller hole and tapped wire in it. Because it is hardwood this works.
The springs and the screws make it easy to adjust the height of the pick-up to the strings.

That's it for my mini instructable.
I don't have any pictures of the works because it was so long ago and didn't exist at the time. As a matter of fact there was no internet, nor personal computers at the time either.
But I guess everybody understands what I have written here.
I bet you can find more info on humbuckers and how they work on the internet. I found my info in some electronics books at the time.
 you should put out a pickup making instructable.
That's excellent!!!
This is sick!
I love everything about it. Good job Merlin. :)
i herd about some british dude forging aluminum cans  to make the guitars body or whatever its called     i admire the british culture
Well, maybe he's into soft metal rather than heavy metal... ;-)
lol nice one

If you did build a guitar out of aluminum cans, than why don't you post a pic of one?

I never stated to have build a guitar out of aluminum cans.
Please read the comments and replies in the correct order.
Sorry but you did say " I sure did m8."
That was about the guitar in the picture I posted. At that time there was no mentioning of the 'canned' guitar...
Sorry but you did say " I sure m8."
Sorry, I see now that I read them wrong. that is a nice guitar that you built. any suggestions that might help me build mine better?
Three suggestions:
- Use your imagination
- Check out some books or sites on guitar schematics.
- Check out some books/sites on woodworking

The only limitation a person has is located between his ears. (unless you're gifted with two left hands ;-) )
Oh no you didn't. :P
Nice !
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