This is a step by step guide on how I built my Custom Electric Guitar. I designed this guitar for my dad as a Christmas present. This is my first instructable, so go easy on me. This is also the first time I have ever built a guitar, so if you notice something I'm doing wrong please leave a constructive comment. If you have any questions or suggestions, please post them or message me. In my conclusion, I discuss things I would have done differently and things people have suggested to achieve a better end result. You may notice several mistakes in the photos as you read this instructable. Those problems are addressed in the conclusion.
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
I designed my guitar in Adobe Illustrator CS6. This was useful because I was able to export the drawing paths as a .dxf file which can be interpreted by the CAM software and cut with a cnc machine. My design was inspired by my dad's old guitar, a Gibson Marauder. One of the main design features I wanted to include was the iconic dragon from the Welsh flag. I decided to engrave the dragon into the pick guard and define its shape based on the dragon's body. I recommend printing or drawing out a full scale version of the drawing to be sure that the dimensions of your drawing are accurate.
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.