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.

<p>ok, got a crasy idea. thinking of transforming a cheapie Epi LPJr into an Dean ML style boy. This would, ofcorpse, involve sawing the appropriate angles into the Epi body and adding 'wings' to transform the LP into the Dean. Thoughts?</p>
<p>What would it take to build a neck for a guitar?</p>
<p>hi there would it be cheaper to make a fender guitar by buying the body and neck etc separate or to just buy the guitar</p>
<p>If you plan to build a guitar from parts, you may be tempted to buy those cheap diy guitar kits, there are many out there. However many of them are garbage, with bad measurements, bad fret work etc, so you'd need to do your research to find some good ones.</p>
<p>If you want to build a Fender-style guitar, you can do as I did. I bought an old (2007), beaten up and chipped alder Squier (full-thickness 1.75&quot;) and stripped everything off down to the raw wood. I then bought all Fender parts on eBay - neck (I wanted a maple neck even though the rosewood (?) Squier neck was terrific), tuners, pick guard, bridge (a thru-body bridge for a hardtail), bone nut, Fender pickups and pots, different capacitors (for tone differences), and string retainer. I was building a '54 clone. I filled, sealed, primed, painted, and clear coated with urethane car paints in an original '54 color - Surf Green. Strat wiring is pretty easy (compared to a Les Paul) and diagrams are everywhere, so all you need is soldering skills and you can put it all together. Only the painting takes time, and it can be reduced by doing a thin coat of paint over a sealed body and polish it out. I toned the neck a bit to look a little aged, soaked metal parts in muriatic acid to age them, and used the old, scratched and aged pickguard and used the aged pickup covers from the Squier for consistency. In the end, I had a &quot;factory finish&quot; closet classic Strat. I liked it so much that I did it again to make a Tele in a different color! The Tele is now my absolute fav and both are much admired by anyone who's played them. Not hard, but do it right.</p>
<p>Hey I was wondering if someone could help me out, I'm building my first guitar and I'm going with a v-shape body so I was wondering if anyone had any templates or designs?</p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>for this guitar, I just took a picture on the net and put the right size and print on A3.</p>
I'm trying to build my first guitar and there's a lot I don't know but I want to try it. Do I need a specific kind of neck depending on what body style I want to make?
<p>I like this alot, but feel having the correct tools is half the battle to really getting the project done. I found this description of good luthier tools here. Thanks everyone.</p><p>rickmaguireguitars.com/shop-tour/shop-tour-ii/</p>
<p>Guys i have a problem please help! I have bought a handcrafted guitar with swirl finish. After a mount paint startet cracking (minting). Is there any solution to fix this issue. Thanks in advance! </p>
<p>Hello everyone. My name is Tyler. I need to install a new tuning system on my Jackson electric guitar. As of right now, it has the Floyd Rose tuning system installed... How do I install a new tuning system, and what kind of setup should I use?</p>
you don't NEED to use the string locks on the neck if you don't want to...<br><br>BTW it's a locking bridge not a tuning system.<br><br>as to tuning one string messing with the other strings' tuning, you can &quot;block&quot; the tremolo...with a wood block. wedge a fittingly sized piece of wood on the outside of the tremolo base under the back cover, on the side opposite of the springs. some people will also advise additionally using all 5 tremolo springs with it (loosen the 'claw' screws to keep the bridge level). tah-dah, now you can tune strings independently.
<p>GuitarDiyDude to anwser your question locking tuners lock your strings down so they stay in tune when you do bends unlike regular tuners where they have a problem of going out of tune when you bend your string when you are doing licks and bending strings!! Mini tuners is what gibson come out with its like tuning for dummies,you select standard tuning and strum all 6 strings and it tunes all 6 simutaneously for you!! So i hope thathelps you,Guitargod6666!!!!!!</p>
<p>I am interested in making an electric guitar and I was wondering what a locking tuner does that regular tuners don't. Ideally I would go for some Tronical tuners (they make Gibsons 2015 mini e-tuners) but the cost &pound;275 odd pounds. They make them for strat style as well if your interested:</p><p><a href="http://www.andertons.co.uk/guitar-parts/pid33170/cid708/tronical-type-c-for-fender-guitars.asp" rel="nofollow">http://www.andertons.co.uk/guitar-parts/pid33170/c...</a></p><p>Thanks</p>
Total cost????
Did you run a ground to your bridge on these? I'm doing a p90 setup. I'm using shielding paint but didn't know if it were necessary to ground as well. Don't really wasn't to have to drill that hole. <br><br>Also, BVB, this should work for bass as well.
Hey. Do u think that I could use this tutorial for a bass and just us bass neck, strings etc...
<p>Thanks for this, tons of useful info! </p><p>I've been trying to make a ceramic guitar body but I'm not sure how to pre-plan for wiring and electronics. Any suggestions? Attached are pics of my 'sketch' attempt. I've made a mold so the shape will be relatively the same. </p>
<p>Hi Matt,</p><p>I have made dozens of molds and tooling parts over the years. What I would do with a ceramic part is insert flexible tubing where the wiring would go. then I would pull it out after the part was made.</p>
<p>How do you do kind of like a Zebra pattern for the guitar.What do you mix on with the paint?</p>
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 />
<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

About This Instructable




More by gbuilder:Build Your Own Electric Guitar! 
Add instructable to: