MANY tools are required to complete this project, but in many cases alternative tool options are available to complete a job. I used a cnc machine I built on this project, however alternative methods can be used to cut out the guitar and parts. I only listed major tools and I'm sure I missed a couple things. The prices are pretty rough and vary depending on the supplier. Most of my parts were ordered off of Warmoth. The stains and such came from StewMac.
BE SURE TO WEAR YOUR PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT WHEN WORKING WITH POWER TOOLS AND PAINTING! I have worked in a lot of different shops, and been both a victim and witness to a few serious shop accidents. If something makes you nervous, you probably shouldn't be doing it. I almost lost my left index finger doing something seemingly straightforward with a drillgun, it was stupid. Don't be stupid. Its hard to make cool stuff or play guitar if you are missing fingers.
Swamp Ash Blank (14 x 19 x 1.75") ~$90
Pickguard Material w/ Red Tri-layer (12 x 16") ~$10
Warmoth Neck (V-1) 25.5" Scale Length ~$220
Tune O Matic Bridge ~$20
Tune O Matic Tailpiece ~$20
Seymour Duncan SH-1 Pickup ~$80
Seymour Duncan SH-5 Pickup ~$80
Gotoh Tuning Machinges x6 (three left, three right) ~$7 ea.
Electrosocket Jack ~12$
Neck and Pickguard Screws
Push-Pull Potentiometer (500k) ~$10
Potentiometer( 500k) ~$5
LP Switch ~$12
.047 uF Cap ~$1
CNC machine w/ various end-mills
Sandpaper (100, 150, 220)
Wet Sanding paper (800, 1000, 1500)
Foam Polishing Disks (for screw gun)
Forestner Drill Bits
Screwdrivers (phillips and flathead)
Polishing Compound (ultimate compound, and scratch x)
Alcohol (for staining)
Gloves (for painting)
Ventilator (for painting)
Step 1: Design Your Guitar
When designing a guitar, there are two basic pickup setups that are the most commonly seen. The Gibson Humbucker setup and the Fender Stratocaster setup. For this guitar, I wanted to use the humbucker style setup because it lends itself to my dad's playing style.
In this guitar, I used a Gotoh Tune O Matic Bridge and Tailpiece setup. In order for this to work correctly the neck must be mounted to the guitar at a slight angle. Gotoh recommends between a 1.5 and 3.0 degree neck pocket. I designed this guitar to have a 2.0 degree neck pocket angle; the process used to achieve this angle is described in step three.
Selecting the wood you are going to use has a major impact on the tone of the guitar. The selection of the parts is also critical to determining the sound of the guitar. Selecting parts to achieve a desired tone is an entire instructable of its own, and one that should be written by someone more experienced than myself. I bought by neck pre-made from Warmoth guitar parts online. This is also where I got most of the rest of the parts I used.
Step 2: Cut a Prototype (Optional)
I decided the back pocket was not necessary so I omitted it from the design.
Step 3: Cut the Body
I milled a 1.9 degree neck pocket by raising one side of the alignment table .95 inches. This measurement was attained using trigonometry and measuring the base of the alignment table. By cutting the neck at a slight angle, the tune o matic style bridge and tailpiece will work correctly. The angle also improves the comfort and playability of the guitar.
Step 4: Drill the Tuner and Bridge Holes
Step 5: Sand the Contours
Step 6: Stain and Lacquer
I used stain dissolved in 200 proof alcohol and sprayed on a couple coats to get the desired base color. I painted the top and half of the sides, then flipped the body and paint the bottom and other half of the sides.
I used Seagrave Guitar Lacquer (gloss) and Seagrave Lacquer Thinner along with ColorTone concentrated stain (Cherry Red and Red Mahogany)
Then I proceded to add the lacquer: 2 washcoats. Then 4 color coats. Then 3 clear coats. To do this, I hung the body in a paint booth with a ventilation system. This makes spraying the lacquer much easier. Be sure to wear a ventilator while spraying the stain and the lacquer, because breathing this stuff is extremely bad for you. Be sure and let the lacquer dry for an hour or so between coats. You don't want to do too many coats in a single day, so do 3 or 4 a day. After all the coats are complete, allow the body to cure for at least four days before wet-sanding.
Washcoats: 50:50 Lacquer-Thinner. 2 COATS.
Color Coats: Add thinner to lacquer to get the desired viscosity for spraying. Then add ColorTone Concentrated Stain to get the desired color, I used Cherry Red with a couple drops of Red Mahogany. 4 COATS.
Clear Coats: Add thinner to lacquer to get the desired viscosity for spraying. 3 COATS.
Allow to cure at least four days after spraying the last clear coat. Then its ready to be wet sanded.
Step 7: Wet Sanding
Step 8: Polishing
Step 9: Drill Holes
A piece of tape on the drillbit can be useful in keeping you from drilling too deep through the headstock or body. Sometimes with smaller drillbits you can choke down on the bit and set the drilling depth that way. In this case, the piloting bits were small enough to be chucked in at the depth I planned to drill. It is important to use some method of preventing yourself from drilling too far, while making sure you drill the fill depth of the screw. Drill presses are useful because most of them can have some kind of depth stopper jig.
Step 10: Bolt the Neck
Unfortunately, two of the screw heads snapped off. To fix this, im going to add two additional neck bolts neck to the ones with the snapped heads. This is to ensure the neck is secured tight enough.
Step 11: Press in Bridge and Tailpiece Inserts
Be careful when moving the guitar around and what you put it on. It would be sad to put in a lot of work to only put a huge ding in it putting it together.
Step 12: Copper Shielding
You want to make a complete Faraday cage around the pickups and electrical hardware. This means you want to make sure you overlap the copper and leave no gaps. If there are gaps in the cage, the shielding effect will be much weaker.
To complete this step, you will need:
Pencil or Pen
First, I traced the pickup and cavity pockets on the tracing paper. Second (optional), I cut the traced pickup and cavity shapes out. Third, I put the copper tape over a soft flat surface and traced it out with a ballpoint pen. I actually just traced it on my leg, but cardboard works too. Fourth step, I trimmed out the copper tracings with the scissors. Next, I measured the depth op the pocket plus about an eighth of an inch and made a long strip, long enough to go all the way around the pocket. I put the copper in around the walls first, then put in the one cut to fit the bottom. Make sure everything overlaps well, then press it all in and flatten it out.
Step 13: Wiring
For this step, you will need:
Push-Pull Potentiometer 500k
.047 uF Capacitor
I am not going to go into depth on soldering because that is an entire instructable in itself, and there are already quite a few on this site.
Step 14: Install Parts
At this point I attached: the tuners, the electrosocket jack, and the strap buttons. Pretty much everything else attaches to the pick guard.
Step 15: Conclusion
You might also notice that I snapped the heads of the neck bolts. This was also pretty frustrating, because it seriously compromises the strength of the connection between the neck and the body. My solution was to add two bolts next to the broken ones. Also, glued the heads back onto the broken screws to make it more aesthetically pleasing. I could have also injected some epoxy into the crack with an hypodermic needle, but decided this would not be necessary.