Hi and thanks for checking out my instructable!  This instructable is twofold.  I’d like to explain a design process from a styling point of view of making something real using a computer aided process as well as the actual build process.  I chose to design a guitar as it is something I have been wanting to do for a long time. Keep in mind, the design process part of this instructable is relevant to anything that you might want to create. 

Don’t care about the design phase and just want to make the guitar?  Please skip the Design Process Phase 1-4 and go right to Make it Real! section.   I have also created a time-lapse video that documents the project and the construction for a better visual on how I made the guitar.

For this instructable, I wanted to give you guys a choice of either making this by hand the old fashioned way if you don’t have access to CNC tools, or use my digital files and make them by milling them out using CNC machine.  I chose to build this first one old school to prove out the process for the instructions.  If you choose to build this and go the CNC route, you can skim ahead to Surfacing and Sanding of each step.

As for the guitar that I have designed, it has more modern, angular shapes and it also features removable “wings” in which you would be able to swap out with a different design or color to suit your mood.  Feel free to use the wings I designed or design your own!  I’ve provided some templates that you can use to sketch over to create your own custom look. 

If anyone decides to make one of these guitars please post a link in the comments as I’d love to see what you guys come up with!  Please don’t make this guitar with the intent to sell them or to use in a commercial setting without my permission.

Step 1: Design Process

Design process Phase 1. Research

Ok, so you’ve got an idea for something you’d like to create.  In my case it was an electric guitar.  I can “sort of” play guitar but I’ve never designed or built an electric guitar before.

First Step: Learn
Learn as much as you can about what ever it is you are going to design.  Find as many reference materials as you can that will give you inspiration for creating your new object as well as any technical information you might need to learn to make the thing work.  The internet is great for this first step.  Download lots photos, or take images out of books and magazines of things that will inspire you to create an awesome design.  They don’t have to be images of the exact same object you are creating either.  You can get inspiration from just about anywhere.  Architecture, animals, bugs, cars etc, etc.  Field trips are great as well.  Go out to the local store that sells similar things to what you’re designing and have a good look and feel of similar products.  If you are going to make your object out of materials that require a choice such as types of wood, plastic, paint colors, fabric types and patterns etc, you can start collecting samples of those as well. 

Second Step: Imageboard
Once you have a pile of images and materials that you like you can create an image board. Pick out the best ones that describe the look and feel you are after and stick them on a piece of poster or illustration board and hang it somewhere close to your work area.  You can refer to it while you are creating and check that what you are designing fits in the realm of the photos and materials you selected.  You don’t have to stay in this realm if inspiration takes you somewhere else but it’s a good starting point.  You might even want to come up with 2 or more image boards to give your designs many different looks for you to choose from.  For example, say you had an image board with a lot of cool architecture and minimalistic product designs and the other image board was based on plants and bugs.  Depending on the images selected, I would imagine that you would come up with two totally different looking designs.  One with hard edges and a clean look whereas the other would be soft and organic in nature.  One might work better than the other but it’s alway good to try as many options as possible.   

Third Step: Background Research
On the technical side, learn any new skills that you might need to know to create your object.  In my case, I had to learn how a guitar was made so I read a book that I bought probably 10 years ago, which was very helpful. How to make an electric guitar by Melvyn Hiscock and also check out some sights on the internet on building guitars. The one that I found that was most helpful and fun to watch is Sully’s Guitar Garage on youtube.  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA6D01D66C9D6B4B9&feature=plcp

Fourth Step:  Off the shelf componentry
If your design uses “off the shelf” items, research those and choose what you want to use.  I designed the guitar in the computer so I needed dimensions of all the parts that I chose. I needed to 3D model them and make sure that everything would fit.  Again the internet is great for this.  Many manufactures of parts provide detailed, dimensioned drawings that you can use and sometimes they even provide 3D models of their parts for you to use.  In my case, EMG, and Schaller provide pdf files with drawings and dimensions for most of their parts.  The PDF files can be loaded into 3D programs and you can build the parts from them, for sizing reference.  McMaster.com is a great place to find 3D models of actual fasteners and other parts.  I downloaded the 3D models of the nuts and bolts from them to see what fits best and ordered the actual parts from them so I knew they would fit as planned.  Grabcad.com is another great site for free downloadable models that individuals have created of actual objects.  For other parts such as the knobs etc, I bought the parts and dimensioned them by hand with a caliper and built 3D models of them. 

Once you have a general look and feel of your design from your image board, finished all the technical research and have or found all the parts that you want to use, it’s time to go to the next phase of designing your object!
Wow!! Thank you Instructables and thanks to all that voted for me in the woodworking challenge!!!! Congrats to all the other winners and entrants as well! There are so many amazing projects in this contest! Thanks again!!!!!!
<p>Boss you have done a great work !!!! I am planing to do dis as a summer project ,i need a small help frm u can u tell me what size shld i print d templates and which size paper shd i use (A4or A3)??</p>
<p>Cool thanks! Let me know how it goes! Everything should fit nice on Super A3.. 13&quot;X19&quot;</p>
sir can u please tell me size of d pieces of wood u used before and after d project (please tell me d height too)<br>
<p>I purchased this chunk of wood for the body and cut it in half.. <a href="http://www.stewmac.com/Materials_and_Supplies/Bodies_and_Necks_and_Wood/Electric_Guitar_Bodies_and_Necks_and_Wood/African_Mahogany_Body_Blank.html" rel="nofollow"> http://www.stewmac.com/Materials_and_Supplies/Bod...</a></p><p>For the wings, I used 3/4&quot; maple from a local hardware store. Each wing is about 19&quot;X6&quot;</p>
thanx alot sir... :)
<p>Hi..This project looks great..Very inspiring..What is the weight of the guitar please ? Thanks..ajw</p>
<p>Thanks very much for this. It really opened my thinking towards modularity. I am working on some template schematics now!</p>
<p>Awesome! Glad you liked it and let me know how it goes!</p>
hi thank you for this instructable, upon seeing this, i'm totally inspired! i always wanted to make my own guitar too but i don't know how to start, i have photoshop and illustrator, i have some questions for you: <br> <br>1. How did you make the neck measurements, frets spacing, distance between the neck, bridge and pickups? where can i find an accurate template for this? is there a downloadable template with accurate measurements? the distance between the nut to the 12th fret must be equal to the distance between the 12th fret and bridge right? <br> <br>2. do you know any freeware for 3d modelling which can also print pdf files with actual measurements? <br> <br>3. i'm gonna try this by hand first and maybe with cnc later, can you recommend the cheapest cnc router? <br> <br>4. where can i find free downloadble, ebooks, tutorials about guitar making? <br> <br>thanks, great post!!!
Great! Glad you liked it and feel inspired!<br><br>1. I purchased the neck already made because you really need to be accurate with the measurements and for my first time making a guitar I wanted to make it a little easier on myself. I might try to make my own next time though. I purchased mine from here.. http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Bodies,_necks,_wood/Electric_guitar_necks/Blank-peghead_Guitar_Necks.html<br><br>You are right with the measurement from the 12th fret to the bridge. The bridge that I purchased came with a template or you can download it here.. http://guitar-bridge.com/download/CY57c7da5bX13d640142f8X2b8d/GuitarBridge_Hannes_InstallationTemplate.pdf You should be able to find similar for others on the manufacturers sites.<br><br>To calculate the fret distances, I found this calculator.. http://www.stewmac.com/fretcalculator?gclid=CL_s7bqp7boCFUVp7Aod900AWw<br><br>2. Not sure what the best freeware software would be. Maybe google sketch up or blender.. http://www.blender.org<br><br>3. Again, not sure what's best. For the cheapest.. probably do a search on instructables and maybe make your own!<br><br>4. The best info I found while working through this project was Sully's Guitars youtube channel.. http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA6D01D66C9D6B4B9 There is an amazing amount of awesome tips on there! Everything from start to finish.<br><br>Good luck with your guitar and let me know how it goes!!<br><br>
did you use solidworks or rhino?
Neither .. I'm using Autodesk Alias.
That is a really great looking axe. I'm planning to build a guitar but your build is way out of my league. Would quite like to have seen it with a headless bridge - I think that would go really well with the design concept. <br>Fantastic instructable and brilliant build quality.
Dude you rock! This is probably the best thing I've seen on Instructables ever! I'll make sure to subscribe to you, and when I make my guitar I'll post a pic. :D
Thanks, and glad you like it!!! Can't wait to see your guitar :)
Sorry, one last thing. How much did this cost approximately, minus the wood and paint. And do you know any ways to get cheap but not to crappy pickups? Im on a really low budget!
That's Awesome.. Can't wait to see your guitar! The parts minus the wood and paint were about 750 bucks (including the neck). Maybe try ebay for the pickups. Think if I did it again and was on a tighter budget, I'd go to guitar center and buy a guitar within budget that has cool hardware / neck and gut it. Buying the guitar parts individually is kind of expensive.
Actually i talked to my band teacher, and hes going to ask his friend who ones a music shop for a guitar we can get the internals from! So other than stuff like fret wire and probably a newer truss rod, i get most stuff free!
Just an update on that, i know i said that a long time ago, but me and my girlfriend are making a guitar in shop. it should be done sometime in the next month, so i will post its pic. Still love this one!
Wow! A truly beautiful piece of work. Your attention to detail is sick - in every aspect from design to execution - a rare gift (or curse). Thanks so much for sharing your design process - I always enjoy seeing how others think through their process. This makes me want to build a guitar ... or at least add it to my bucket list - lol.
Thanks jwilliamsen! This has been on my bucket list as well for quite some time. Well worth the effort!
What program would you suggest for creating these designs in a CAD machine?
Blown away by this you did a truly amazing job on this, its been a dream of mine to build a custom guitar and now after seeing this i know i can. Thank you and keep up the amazing work.
Congrats on your Grand Prize Win!! Awesome Instructable!!
Nice loking guitar, well done!!
Thanks gigin!
all i can think of is that i would want my Floyd Rose and locking nut on there
I have another guitar with a Floyd Rose and roughly eyeballing, it looks like you could get it in there but I think you'd have to move the neck volume knob. I'll take a look at the 3D model and see if it could be adapted.
does this one get good enough resonance without the wings? if it does i would suggest maybe making the wings out of ABS or some other plastic. it looks great i have just always wondered what one made with some plastic would sound like.
So far, I've only played it with the wings on but I've wondered the same thing. At one point I was thinking of water jetting the wings out of a thick rubber to have a cool material breakup but thought it might deaden the tone a bit. Would be fun to experiment with different materials to see if you can get a different sounds out of it. Overall, with the wings at least, the guitar seams to be quite a bit more resonant than my ESP strat. I'll give it a try without the wings and see if there's much difference.
of course if your like me resonace doesnt really matter when your pluged in and distortion is set to 12. if it aint metal it aint right! i do love the look of this. maybe sell these. custom jobs usually alwas go for a good amount.
Didn't know the knob went below 12 :) I did a test with and without the wings and didn't really notice any difference. If anything, the wings might make it slightly brighter but not enough to say either version was better. I think one would be safe to make the wings out of any material they wished.
Here's a quick look of the model with a Floyd Rose tech drawing on it I think it could work but you would have to rearrange the control cavity for the whammy bar, probably move the front tone knob towards the rear and maybe move the switch as well.
Hi! Nice job ;) I found one good place where is more 3D models. Check this out! www.cgtrader.com
Cool.. Thanks for the link. I haven't seen that site before.
Beautifully constructed and extremely well written- awesome job!
Cool... Thanks Honus!
two words...... BAD-ASS
i love where u but the input jack, this guitar reminds me of this bass i almost bid on on ebay!!! it has the input jack and knobs in the back also!!!
Cool thanks! I didn't really have anywhere else to put it but it worked out to be kind of cool feature. Thanks for sharing the pix. That's some wild paint!
yeah, its hand painted with oil paint. are u planning on making another guitar? or even maybe a bass? i play bass btw, but if u were to make a bass and sell it for the right price, i might buy it from you....
No plans anytime soon but a bass would be fun to try. I'll let you know if I ever plan to make one. Thanks for the interest :)
thanks, btw, i subscribed to you on youtube, check out some of my videos!!!
Amazing build and outline of the design process. I can't play any instruments, nor do i have anywhere near the capabilities to do this, but it's still a great build! Wicked guitar!
Thanks!! Glad you liked it.
Thanks guys!! I really had a lot of fun doing this project!
You sir, are amazing.
Very cool. I'll be watching for more.

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