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!


Tools Needed

Plunge Router and Router Bits
(I use a Skill router with a 1/4" bit, a 1/2" bit with ball bearing guide and a 1/2" round over bit)
Drill and Drill Bits
(A basic electric drill and bit set with an optional 6" sanding disk for carving down the body, and a 1/2" Forstner Bit for counter sinking the neck ferrules.)
Jig Saw
(Any good jig saw and fine tooth blade for cutting the plastic control covers)
Belt Sander (optional)
(For carving down the top back body contour)
Mouse or Orbital sander (optional)
Dremmel tool (optional)
(Use with a sanding attachment for hard to reach areas that need to be sculpted)
Drill press (optional)
(I wish I had one, it makes drilling perfectly straight holes much easier)
(Good to have if you need to laminate your own body blank. A small one is good to have for holding the neck inplace when you attach it)
Soldering Iron and Solder
Flux and Wire
(Both for the electronics)

Basic Parts and Electronics

Premade Neck
(Trying to build your own neck is difficult and requires more tools that you might be willing to buy.)
Body Blank
(Make your own out of Birch Plywood or buy a blank from a retailer)
(I tend to go with a hard tail type bridge since it can be easily bolted on. Not much to it.)
String Ferrules
(These are used to hold the string in the guitar and are placed in small holes drilled in the back. You won't need these if you decide to go with a Gibson style bridge and tail piece.)
(It's a good idea to get high quality tuners since the cheaper one don't stay in tune as well)
(You will need pick guard screws for the control cavity cover and other various size screws for pickup rings and truss rod cover. Your bridge should come with screws but check and make sure in case you need to order any)
(For the neck and strings. You can use a neck plate instead of ferrules but I like the clean look and tight fit that you get with the ferrules.)
(This depends on the type of sound you want and how much you are willing to spend. Shop around for good deals.)
Pickup Rings
(Most come with screws when you buy them but if you decide to go with all gold hardware you might want to buy gold screws separately.)
(You can get a sheet of black plastic from Stewart MacDonald and use it to cut the cover for the control cavity.)
Control Knobs
(These can be bought from many online retailers. Get the style that best fits your guitar design. Shop around for the best deal)
(Uses for volume and tone control you typically need between two and four depending on the type of sound you want. They come in different sizes and values so the best thing to do is look up a wiring schematic online for the set up you want to see what kind to use. Seymour Duncan has great schematics.)
(They also come in different values so find out what you need from your schematic)
Input Jack
(I like to use a long shaft input jack. All you have to do to install it is drill a hole. Pretty easy)
Control Switch
(These come in different styles also. Fender Strats use 5 way switches while Les Pauls use 3 way ones.)

Parts and Suppliers
Stewart MacDonald
Seymour Duncan Pickups
Guitar Parts USA
Guitar Fetish
Guitar Parts Central
Guitar Jones USA
Guitar Parts Online
DJs Guitars
Catalina Guitars

There are tons of different online retailers and ebay stores that you can find a great deal on parts and supplies, but those were just some of the ones that I have purchased on and been satisfied with their service and parts. NOTE: Do your research when it comes to parts and the quality of the parts you buy. I like to get feedback and reviews from Harmony-Central. You might not be able to get reviews on everything, but it helps you out allot.


PRE-DESIGN INFO Before you can design your guitar you must know a few important rules to building guitars. The first and most important is "Know Your Scale Length".

SCALE LENGTH What is a "Scale Lenght?" The scale lenght is the lenght the string travels between the nut at the top of the fretboard and the bridge at the mid section of the base of the guitar. To determine the scale length of your guitar you would measure from the front part of the nut where it meets the fretboard to the center of the 12th fret on the neck and multiplying that by 2. Add about 3/16" to that on the low e string and taper that to about 1/16" added to the high e string. This is called compensation and that is why you see that tapered line on a bridge. Go to Stewart MacDonnaldfor more info. They also have a Fret Calculator that helps you determine your particular scale length in addition to a page dedicated to helping you out with tons of free info for your guitar building projects.The fret is the metal of nickle wire that is raised up off the fretboard. I would suggest buying a neck that has been pre made from a manufacturer that fits the design concept that you want to go with. I bought mine from Guitar Parts USA for about $70. You can pay anywhere from $50 to $300 for a neck at online retailers, but surf around and make sure you are satisfied with what you get. Guitarpartsusa will tell you to buy an expensive neck if you are building an expensive guitar, not a $70 neck. But for mine the $70 neck works just fine. Once you get the neck in and you determine what the scale length is you can lay it all out on paper. I recomend buying all your hardware, pickups and knobs before you draw your final template. This will allow to place everything where you want it and know what size holes to drill for the electronics and how big the cavites will need to be for them and the pickups.

DESIGN AND PLANNING It is best to pre-plan your design concept so you can correct any mistakes on paper before you get to the wood and can't go back. Sketch out some design concepts on paper then, once you have decided on something,lay out a couple of pieces of poster board to draw the body shape out on. You can let you imagination go wild or if you perfer stay with a more traditional design. For this particular guitar I built, I chose to go with a PRS style body design. To get the measurment correct, I pulled a picture of the guitar I was modeling it after from a guitar catalog that was taken straight on and not from the side. I then scaled up the guitar by marking out a grid on the picture and transposed it to some poster board that I had drew a larger grid on. I knew that the pickup rings measured 3 1/2" by 1 1/2" and thats what I used to scale the picture up and get the proportions correct. Another method is to project the image on a wall and trace it to the poster board if you happen to have a projector but I like to draw my template out freehand. You don't have to use this method for the design if you want to come up with you own unique style. Just make sure that take all the parts that will go on to your guitar into consideration first like the neck postition, pick ups and knobs.

PLOTTING OUT THE PEICES Once you have drawn out the shape of the body you can then locate and draw the cavaties that the pickups and electronics will go and set you bridge placement. It is good to know wher the center of the guitars boy is so you can make sure that the pickups and bridge are in good alignment with the neck pocket. I like to take a piece of poster board and trace the fretboard of the neck on it and cut it out, that way I can properly place my bridge according to my scale length.
For the neck pocket you will want to trace the heal of the neck where you want it to be placed. For this guitar I had to extend a peice of the body to attach the neck to since I was copying a PRS which uses a set in neck. I was using a bolt on and didn't have much of a neck pocket to work with.
Next, make sure you give yourself enough room in the electronic cavity to fit all the potometers and switches. Also remember to add about 1/4" of a lip that the control cover will sit on.
After your design has been properly plotted out on the poster board you can cut it out with an exacto knife. Make sure you stay as true to your lines as possible so you have a nice clean line to trace once your ready to. Then lay out the template on body blank and trace away. I like to cut the piece of poster board the same size as the body blank I am using. It makes it a lot easier to line everything up that way. Now you're ready to move on to the next step.


THE BODY This is where your guitar starts to take shape. After you have finnished your design you will need to trace it onto the wood that you are going to use for the template or body. A solid blank of tonewood that you can get from online retailers like Catalina Guitars can run anywhere in the price range of $70 to $250 depending on what wood you use. Some people will tell you that different wood will produce a different tone. While this is true in some cases like the crisper higher pitch tone of Mapel and the warmer fuller tones of Mahogany, you probably won't be able to tell the differnce between using a lower grade wood versus a higher grade more expensive wood. The only time that I would splurge and buy expinsive wood is if I was going to use a clear finish on the body and all the other parts of the guitar were going to be high end quality parts. For my project I didn't have a lot of money, much less the expensive tools to work with to produce a result that I would want to break the bank on.

MAKE YOUR OWN BODY BLANK Another neat trick to create your own body blank for $10 is to get a 3/4" thick peice of Birch Plywood that comes cut into a 4' by 2' board. Simply cut out two rectangular sections of the board that will accomodate your desing and wood glue them together. Be generous with the glue to make sure there aren't any spaces between the boards when you press the two together, clamp and stack weights on top of it so the two peices are joined firmly and let dry overnight. This gives you a a 1 1/2" thick body blank that is rigid and works great for electric guitars. You will have to go with a solid color paint when you finish it but you won't be able to tell the difference between it and the solid wood blank. Plus you'll save a good chunk of change that you can use towards good pickups and hardware. If you want to make the body a little thicker, you can get a 1/4" peice of birch and glue it between the two thicker peices. It's also a good idea to prerout any wire cavities in that 1/4" peice before you glue them together. That way you don't have to worry about drilling them later and ruining the top of your guitar body with the drill.

MAKING A TEMPLATE Once you have traced out your design to the wood you can start routing. I recomend making a template first for the body rout out of 1/4" hard board or something equivalent to that. The professionals use cnc machines to carve and rout the bodies but smaller shops will use templates made from acrylic. The hard board works just fine, but might not last as long. You can also rout the body by hand and forget the template but if you mess up there's no going back so be carefull if you do.
I cut my template with a jig saw and a fine tooth blade to make sure it kept a straight edge. Then i mounted it to the body blank using small screws in the ares that would be routed out later like the neck cavity area and where the pick ups would be. You will want to start routing a bit outside your line or the edge of the template so you can get you router bit to the depth it will need to be at for the ball bearing to follow the template. I use a 1/2"x1" bit with a ball bearing guide on top.I make several passes around the body, lowering the router 1/4" at a time for smooth easy cuts. Once you have made your pass were the bearing runs along side the template, it is much easier to rout and you will end up with a nice squared edge to the body.

ROUTING THE EDGE I like to use a 1/2" round over bit on the edge of the body to give it a nice even curve. You dont have to do this butit is good to round the edges of the body a little bit at least. It's easier to polish the body after you gloss it and you don't risk burning through on those sharp edges.

THE NECK POCKET The next step is to rout the neck pocket and body cavities. For the neck pocket I like to use a 1/4" bit and leave the scrap wood edge around the body to give the router the extra support it needs when routing the neck area. To find out how deep you will have to rout the pocket measure the total thickness of the heal of the neck. Then measure the hieght of the bridge from the bottom to the top of the groove the string will sit in on the saddle and add about 1/8" to it. That allows for the string clearence over the frets. The subtract that from the overall thickness that you came up with when you measured the heal of the neck. That will give you a pretty accurate depth that you will need to carve the pocket down to. Be very careful when you rout the neck pocket! You don't want to make it too big otherwise you end up with gaps between the neck and the body and you don't want to go too deep because it can be impossible to fix. Rout a little bit at a time, and set the neck in each time to make sure you get the proper fit. It shouldn't fit to tight and the pocket should be slightly lager than the heal of the neck because you will have paint accumulation in it which will shrink it a little.

PICKUP CAVITIES Same basic thing here. Be careful routing as you don't want to go outside you lines. The pickup rings tend to be thin along the outter edge, so if you go outside you lines it will look like there is a hole in the body of the guitar once you fit the rings on. Determine the depth that you will need for the pickups you are using. This is usually based on the length of the mounting screws. You will need enough room for them to fit. I use a 1/4" bit for this as well. You can use a template if you want but I do it free hand because any imperfections will be covered by the pickup rings.

THE CONTROL CAVITY Routing the control cavity is just as important as the neck pocket but with a couple more steps. The best thing to do is to cut out the plastic cover. Trace the pattern that you came up with for it on the plastic then cut it out with a jig saw. Use a fine tooth blade to prevent the plastic from chipping and will also yeild a smoother cut. Once this is done, take your template and reverse it, trace the patern on the back side of the body. Next set your router to a depth that is the same as the thickness of the plastic plate and rout the cavity working out to the line you drew. I do this free hand since the first cut is too shallow for a template. Be careful when you do this and test fit the plate you cut to make sure you get a goo fit. Then you will draw another line about 1/4" along the inside of the cavity you routed out, leaving extra room in areas for the screws you will use later on to secure the control plate. Rout this area out in the same way, working out to the line you drew. When you start to get close to the half way point in the wood start to think about how much wood you need to leave at the bottom. Usualy 1/4" is good but make sure you are careful! I miscalculated once and ended up going all the way through the body. Bad experience.


DRILLING THE HOLES Now is a good time to drill the holes for the neck, pick up rings, bridge, string furreles, the control plate and cavity. Here is where I wish I had a drill press but I don't, so I just use a hand held drill. It doesn't matter wher you start drilling you holes, just make sure you use the right size bit for the screws that you will put in them later. To figure this out I compare the thickness of the screw minus the threading. A good rule of thumb is to start off with a bit that will produce a hole that is smaller than the screw. If the hole is too small when you try to screw in the screw then you can move up to the next size bit an re-drill. Be careful of the depth that you drill you hole to as well. A good way to do this is to size up the screw with the bit and mark the bit with a peice of tape. This will help you to keep from going to deep.

DRILLING THE NECK HOLES ON THE BODY Before you do this you can carve down the back of the neck area if that is something you were going to do. If you are just going to leave it flat then that's ok too. The first step if you are using furreles is to map out where you want to place them and then mark the center of the hole where the screw will go. Then take your forstner bit drill enough to fit the furrele inside. Usually you can tell how deep to go if you drill a little at a time, and place the furrele in it to see if it is just low enough in the hole not to see the top of it if you look at the body horizontally or it is flush with the wood. After doing this you can drill the holes for the screws. Use a bit that has the same circumference as the screw including the threading so when you put the scre into the hole it just passes through with out you having to screw it in. Drill in the indention that was left by the tip of the Forstner bit, keeping the drill as straight as possible.

ATTACHING AND DRILLING THE NECK For this you will want to use a clamp to hold the neck firmly in place while you dril the holes. Attach the neck to the body and clamp it lightly so you can set it in the right possition before drilling. Make sure you have some protection between the clamp and the body so you don't leave any indentions in the wood. A soft piece of plastic or a soft rag will work nicely. Use a long ruler to allign the neck to the position of the bridge. Do this on both sides of the neck to see that you get it centered. Tighten down the clamp a bit more until the neck doesn't move. Drill the holes as straight as possible with a smaller bit that you used on the body. If you can't reach all of the spots that you need to drill at because the clamp is in the way, take a couple of the furreles and neck screws and screw them into the neck. Once you have done this you can finish drilling the other holes with out the clamp.

SHAPING THE BODY This is totaly up to you. You can carve down the body however you want. For my project I chose to carve down the body as close to the way the guitar I was modeling it after was. I used a verity of different sanders. I used a belt sander for the arm contour on the top back of the guitar, a dremmel tool with a sanding attachment for the small carve down under the neck, a 6" sanding disk attachment on my drill for the body contour on the back of the guitar, and a Black and Decker mouse sander for the neck area and smoothe down of all the other areas that had previously been carved. One rule of thumb is to only sand with a 220 grit when carving the body down. This will prevent any deep scratches any lower grit will cause. Don't use any electric sander on the falt parts of the guitar either, like the top or the back. Use a 220 grit paper with a sanding block to smooth out those areas. You can also run a slightly dampened cloth along the surface of the body and let dry before the final hand sanding. This will raise the small grains in the wood so they can be cut by the paper easier. Sand in the direction of the grain.

FINISH DRILLING THE HOLES After you have shaped and carved the body and the neck holes are drilled and the cavities routed out, you can preposition all of you parts and drill the last of the holes. Start with the pickup rings. It is good to assemble them first and then drop them into the cavity so you can line them up and mark where you will need to drill. Make sure they aren't crooked when you line them up. I like to have the neck bolted on so I can line them up with it. I do the same thing with the bridge. Be sure to check that the scale length is correct and that it is lined up with the neck as well. Drill the holes for the mounting screws and then the string through holes. Try to keep the drill as straight as possible when you do this because you will be going all the way through the body and if they aren't straight you will see it on the other side. This is the time that I wish I had a drill press.
Next you can move on to the holes for the control cavity. Use the washers that come with the electronic components to find out what size bit you will need. I use the 1/2" forstner bit that used on the neck to drill the input jack hole. It makes it straight and smooth.

TEST FIT It is a good idea to go ahead and test fit all the parts on the guitar before you move on to prep and paint to make sure that everything is in the right spot and that there is nothing that needs to be corrected.


PLUG THE PORES What you use to prep the body for paint depends on the chosen finish that you will go with. For a solid color finish you will want to fill any of the pores with a wood filler or Bondo glazing putty. I prefer Bondo because it dries quickly and sands smooth. Use one of those plastic speaders that you can get for mud at a paint or hardware store and press the filler firmly into the pores and gaps in the wood. Cut diagonaly accross and against the grain to fill the pores and gaps better. Use a sanding block and a 220 grit paper and after the filler dries to ensure an even flat surface. Only use your hands to lightly sand on the rounded edges or hard to reah areas of the guitar. The roundness of your fingertips can cause depressions in the woods surface so stick with the sanding block on the flat areas. Inspect the surface to see if any pores or gaps remain and repeat the steps if needed. Then clean the surface with a tack cloth to remove any dust.
Stewart MacDonnald has a great finishing schedule that I would recomend reading before you start the painting process. You shouldn't need to fill any pores on the neck because necks are usualy made from maple which is a tight grain wood. All that's need for it is a sanding with 220 grit paper unless you want to leave the neck natural and unfinished. I recomend using at least a few coats of sanding sealer of clear gloss laquer to protect the wood fromdirt and grime that comes from playing.


PAINT INFO Remember to stick with the medium that you have chosen to finish the guitar with. Never mix lacquer with water base. This will lead to a cracked finish or lifting up off the clear coat. For my guitar I used a lacquer based paint that I got from an auto shop for one project and just plain white lacquer paint that i got from Home Depot. The waterbased paints and clear coats tend to be more expensive so that's why I chose lacquer. Make sure the surface has been cleaned and is dust free before you begin to paint. Try to find cans that have a fan nozzel because it makes it easier to get an even coat.

I use a coat hanger wire to hang the body and neck from when I paint. It keeps the guitar from touching any thing and makes it easier to move from one place to another. I like to dedicate one place for painting and another for drying to avoid any free floating particales from landing on the wet paint. I use a shed for painting and hang the guitar to dry in my garage.

SPRAYING TECHNIQUE Spray the body holding the can 6 to 8 inches away, moving either up and down or right and left depending on how you have set the nozzel. Start spraying from 2 inches outside the body and finish the stoke the same way. Don't stop or start the spry right on the body because you will end up with an uneven build up or paint drips. It is also good to spray a light "tack" coat first and let that dry for 45 min before laying on the thicker coats. This lets the paint adhere to the body better. You can also mount the guitar body to a square wooden stick that will fit inside the neck pocket so you can hold the guitar flat while you paint the top of it. This lets the coats build up thick and even, but watch for drips on the side.

After you have good coverage, let it dry for a few days or until it has hardened up enough. Inspect the surface for and runs or imperfections. If there are any runs them you can wet sand them flat with 800 grit wet sand paper and a sanding block. Usualy you will be able to see if there is any grain showing that you might not have filled up when you preped the body. If there is them apply a few more coats to cover it up and wet sand it to make it level.

RACING STRIPES Once you have checked out the color coat and are satisfied with the results and have let it dry completely, you can move straight to clear coats or add some racing stripes... or any other design you feel comfortable painting on. I did a paint splatter on the guitar I'm currently working on and it looks awsome. Plus it was realy easy. I just sparyed some black laquer paint in a pan, dipped a brush in it and splattered it on to my liking. For racing stripes make sure you get auto masking tape so you don't get any bleed through when you paint. Decide where you want you lines to go and tape them off. Use a garbage bag to cover the rest of the guitar and make sure all the other areas of the body are covered and taped off to prevent any unwanted spray from getting on the guitar. Spray just enough coats of paint to cover up the base color. You don't want it to be too thick because you will lay daown a clear coat on top and wet sand to level out the finish. If it is too thick it will take much more coats of clear and more sanding than you will want to do just to level it out.

CLEAR COATStew Mac sells nitrocellulose lacquer that works realy well for guitar finishing but if your like me you can't afford $10 a can for paint. Or you can check out reranchthough I haven't used any of their products they are a little cheaper. I use Deft spary lacquer. You can get it at Wal-Mart for under $5 a can and it works great. Use the same basic steps that you used when you sprayed you color coats, keeping in mind that you want enough coats so you don't cut through the clear top coat when wet sand and polish it out. Now comes the waiting. The paint has to set for several days to a month to let the solvents that are in the paint to rise to the top and harden. The paint will feel dry but you will notice that it might feel a little sticky or soft when you touch it. I like to do a "nail" test on mine. I use my finger nail and push it into the painted area in the neck pocket to see if it is still soft. No one will see the inside of the neck pocket so it's ok if you scratch it. Once it has cured completly you shouldn't be able dent the finish. It could take longer than a month for certain finishes to harden completely but trust me, you will be glad that you waited. For more information about all the different types of lacquer or clear coats products that are out there and how to choose what may be right for you, check out the drum foundry they have some great info.

WET SANDING You can wet sand with 600 or 800 grit wet sanding papers that you can get from the hardware or auto body shop before you apply the clear coats. You can get precission paper from Stewart Mac Donald that are suppose to cut better, last longer and yeild a better result, but I have never tried them so that's up to you. When wet sanding there are a few things to keep in mind. First you will need to soak the paper overnight in water. You can add a little Murphy's Oil soap to it. It will act as a lubricant and help it cut better. You could even soak the paper in a solvent if you use a laquer finish but I use water because it cleans up easier and dosen't smell. Next be sure not to overly soak the areas that you have drilled holes in. If the water get in the wood it can cause a lift in the lacquer that could lead to cracks in the finish. This is why some people choose a solvent to sand with because it is more forgiving in that area. Start wet sanding with a 600 to 800 grit paper and gradually work your way up to a 2000 plus grit. If you use water you may experience a condition in you finger tips that comes with a prolonged exposure to it called "raisoning". Just let them dry out for a while and get back to work!

POLISHING Once you have completed the wet sanding you wil have a pretty smooth surface that is almost a dull shine. You can either hand polish the finish or use a polising attachment to buff it out. Stew Mac has a polishing pad that attaches to you drill. Or you can get 6" foam bonnets from an auto parts store that will fit over the sanding disk attachment you may already have. It is best not to use any thing made from cotton because it will cut through the finish. Stew Mac also has polishing compounds that you will use in order working you way down to the swirl remover. It's on the expensive side so I use McGuires polish that you can get from the auto shop. If you use a buffing attachment make sure that you uae a different attachment for each grade of polish. Don't use the same pad for each one. Also remember to wait 10 minutes after buffing before you wipe off the surface. The lacquer gets hot and soft after buffing so give it time to cool. You will have to hand polish the cutaways, don't attempt to use the buffer on the edges of the guitar or cutaways because you will burn though the finish.
I finished my last guitar in this pattern:
Wet Sand 800/1000/1500/2000 grit,
Buff Down using an orbital sander that had a "hook and loop" base or velcro that I had attached a polishing pad that Gator Grit makes and McGuiars step 1 cleaner polish
Hand Buff with McGuiars step 2 swirl remover
It took less time than previous finishes and looked awesome.
Once you have finished polishing, clean off the residue the polish left behind with a clean cloth ie: an old t-shirt, look closely to admire the shine and get that piece of broccoli out from between your teeth.

STAINED FINISHES Check out the master Dan Erlewine put a stained finish on a guitar with out the use of spray equipment or buffing arbor.


ASSEMBLE Now you can put it all together! By this time you'll be so excited you'll forget about the electronics and start to string in up before you get the electronics in but it's ok, we'll get there. Start with bolting on the neck in the same fasion that you did when you test fitted everything. Then follow that with the tuners, bridge and pickups. Don't forget to run the wiring for the pickups when you put them in.

SHEILDING Sheilding is good to use if you want to minimize that annoying buzz you can get from surrounding interference that electronic components such as amps can produce. You can use sheilding paint that is a bit more expensive but easier to apply than copper tape. All you do is paint it on and let it dry. It also gets into the areas tape can't reach. To install the tape you basically just apply it to the inside of the control cavity and solder up any seams that might let the interference through. The soldering can be a little tricky since you have to lay down a long bead of it along the seam. Kind of like welding. Here are some futher instructions After this is done you can install the pots and switch. Be careful when tightening them down not to scratch the finish. Add the knobs and get out your schematic for wiring it up.

WIRING Lay your beautifully finished guitar on a soft towel so you don't scratch it and cover the back with a cloth as wel so you don't splatter solder on it. How you wire you guitar up depends on the layout you have chosen. Mine was a simple one tone, one volume and three way switch set up. I have gone with the Les Paul set up on other guitars which is a two tone and two volume before as well. What ever set up you go with just follow the schematic that either came with you pickups or get one from Seymour Duncan. They also have instructional videos that are done by Seymore Duncan himself on Strats and Les Pauls. I recomend watching these if its your first time wiring a guitar.


Now that you have made it through, if you chose to build a guitar, you are probably going to want to make more. Hopefully some of the info as well as links I have provided has helped to get you started in the right direction. Guitar building is fun and chalenging at the same time, and if your like me you will always want to improve your skills and find something else to try out on your next project. I have added some pictures of some of the guitars that I have made down at the bottom so you can see my progression. So here's to having fun and building a piece of art that you don't just have to look at. Though they do look good hung on a wall!
Very good instructable.<br /> I build this one myself when I was 15. I wasn't alowed to buy one, so I asked my parents &quot;what if I build one myself?&quot; They said &quot;OK&quot;, but they thought I couldn't do it. Man, were they wrong... :)<br />
Please tell me ya got a tutorial on how you made that awesome piece of work :D
<em><strong>AWSUM GEETAR DUDE!</strong></em>
<p>email me to a killer supremely awesome guitar dude!!! &quot;vampire guitar&quot; j. ghostr@shaw.ca </p>
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. <br>I only know that it wasn't half as much as a good ready made guitar would have costed me. <br>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. <br>And to have a spare one of course... :-) <br>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. <br> <br>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. <br>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. <br> <br>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 ? <br> <br>Hope to get your replay as soon as possible. <br> <br>Max. <br> <br>
You can build a guitar in any shape you want. <br>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. <br>Make the hole the size it needs to be so your fingers easily fit into it. <br> <br>As you can read in the comment of zenguitar below, it might change the sound. <br>I realy don't know how much that change would be. <br> <br>I have a question for you: <br>You write that you're 12, but your profile says you're 19. <br>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?<br>
Hi there,<br><br>I used Meranti for the body. The neck is made out of beech.<br>Have fun building your own guitar.
Does the shape/material effect the sound?
<br> Just a tiny little bit. Most of the sound is determined by the pickups.<br> If the guitar has a hollow body, the sound is influenced more. Especially if you play with a microphone eventually combined with the pickups.<br> That's because with a hollow body the body acts as an amplifier, not so with a solid guitar.<br> Since this is a solid guitar, the sound influence of the wood is practically zero.<br> The different woods give different looks, that's their main influence. ;)<br>
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.<br><br>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).<br><br>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.<br><br>Andy
does it make any diference on the finish i want to use danish oil on my first guitar <br>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.<br><br>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.<br><br>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.<br><br>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.<br><br>Andy
Thanks Andy for the info <br> 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 <br>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.<br><br>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. <br><br>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.<br><br>Best of luck and I promise two things. There will be frustrations along the way, but once you are finished it is deeply satisfying.<br><br>Andy
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.<br>So much fun to build instruments<br>
&nbsp;SIX PICKUPS!<br /> <br /> 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 (0.2mm&sup2;). The magnets I got out of relays that were no longer used from an old telephone central.<br />
did you actually make your own pick-up??
Yes I did. It's the middle one with the black top.<br> It's not that difficult, but you have to find the right materials.<br> <br> I used a 4 mm thick piece of hardwood to make the base.<br> 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).<br> 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.<br> One row of magnets were put in with the north pole up, the other row with the south pole up.<br> 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.<br> 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.<br> 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.<br> These nails I had placed in another piece of wood at the width of the outer magnets.<br> Some 4000 windings go into one spool.<br> Some tape was applied to cover and fasten the copper windings.<br> The second spool was wound in the opposite direction.<br> Next I placed the two spools over the magnets and connected them so that they were connected as serial spools.<br> 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.<br> <br> 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.<br> <br> I used two ballpoint springs and a couple of metal screws to attach the pick-up to the front plate of the guitar.<br> The screws drive into the wood directly. I drilled a smaller hole and tapped wire in it. Because it is hardwood this works.<br> The springs and the screws make it easy to adjust the height of the pick-up to the strings.<br> <br> That's it for my mini instructable.<br> I don't have any pictures of the works because it was so long ago and instructables.com didn't exist at the time. As a matter of fact there was no internet, nor personal computers at the time either.<br> But I guess everybody understands what I have written here.<br> 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.
&nbsp;you should put out a pickup making instructable.
That's excellent!!!<br />
This is sick! <br>I love everything about it. Good job Merlin. :)
i herd about some british dude forging aluminum cans&nbsp; to make the guitars body or whatever its called&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; i admire the british culture
Well, maybe he's into soft metal rather than heavy metal... ;-)<br />
lol nice one
<p>If you did build a guitar out&nbsp;of aluminum cans, than why don't you post a pic of one?</p>
I never stated to have build a guitar out of aluminum cans.<br /> Please read the comments and replies in the correct order.<br />
Sorry&nbsp;but you did say &quot; I sure did m8.&quot;
That was about the guitar in the picture I posted. At that time there was no mentioning of the 'canned' guitar...<br />
Sorry but you did say &quot; I sure m8.&quot;
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:<br /> - Use your imagination<br /> - Check out some books or sites on guitar schematics.<br /> - Check out some books/sites on woodworking<br /> <br /> The only limitation a person has is located between his ears. (unless you're gifted with two left hands ;-) )<br />
Oh no you didn't. :P
Nice !
It's nice to show doubters UR can do attitude, nice job Merlin!
whatever you didnt build that
I sure did m8.<br />
i dont believe you
Well, everyone is allowed to have his/her own opinion.<br /> I don't mind, I kn&ograve;w I made it myself.<br />
I believe you dude i am working on just refinishing one and putting EMGs in it. It will be cool i want to build one from scratch some time though.
That Guitar Is SWEET!! is it a custom shape? And i Love how its triple humbuckers.
Thanks. Actually it's a crossing between a Fender stratocaster and a Gibson Solid Guitar. The body is made after a Gibson SG while the neck was based on the Stratocaster. Only I split up the tuning keys into a 4/2 setup rather than all keys on one side like the original Strat has.
&nbsp;how hard was this to make, and how much money would you say it costed you? my parents gave me the same answer, and id like to make my own too! im 15, is it within a 1OO dollar range? or 2OO?
I don't remember the exact cost. It was many years ago. But remember that a project like this one will cost you more than when you buy a ready made one.<br /> You can make it as difficult as you want yourself. For instance. I made the neck myself, the form, the thickness, the bending spring inside, the fretboard. The whole stuff. But you can also buy a ready made neck. Then you don't have the issue that the frets need to be positioned in the exact positions one from another. The only thing you'll have to take care of is that the bridge is placed in the correct position measured from the last fret on the body side.<br /> The body is actually the easiest part to make so to speak. Off course you need the right tools. A milling machine to make the cavities for the pickups and cables, a drill you can place in a holder to drill perfectly straight,... If you don't have these or can't go somewhere (family or friends) where they have the tools which you might be permitted to use, it may be difficult. But it can be done without also. You only need the will to do it and do it right. If it doesn't work out the first time, you may have to start over. And I would suggest that if you have no experience with woodworking and precision working, buy the neck, don't make it yourself because it is the one piece that is very sensitive and needs a lot of work to build correctly. The tones need to be right, and if the distances between the frets aren't right the instrument will not sound good.<br /> By all means, if you want to make your own, don't let anyone stop you. Go ahead and give it a try. This instructable is a very good one. Take it and follow it. You'l be happy with the result. Good luck with your project.<br />

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