I am a sophomore Technology Education undergrad at the college of New Jersey. This past fall I took an introductory materials course and decided to push my skills and make a playable electric guitar for my final project. It was a sporadic decision; I only gave myself two and half weeks to make the whole thing. I have had wood working experience in high school but this was by far my most extensive project with a lot of room for error. But I pulled it off! In just two and half weeks I created a custom guitar (not the neck) in a college lab and my dorm room that actually looks ok and to my surprise, actually sounds pretty good. The guitar is not finished; there are plenty of finishing touches left, which I plan to do once the spring semester is over in May. This guide however, is my step-by-step guide beginners guide on how to make a custom guitar of your very own! I apologize for the lack in pictures when actually making the cuts, I was working alone for most of this and everything happens so fast when you’re in the moment, the last thing you remember is to take pictures. Happy woodworking everyone!
Before we get started, I want to lie out each step of the build process so we can wrap our mind around the whole project.
1. Materials- Get your materials first, trust me, I know it sucks to dish out the cash up front but it is important to have all of your parts
before you start when you make anything custom. Everything is fabricated to fit your parts.
2. Design and Templates - Figure out the general design of the guitar up front. You will wind up making small adjustments as you go
along but you need a general direction to shoot for. Once you have your design you should make templates regardless of whether you
plan to make one or one hundred guitars. I’ll cover templates more down the road.
3. Prepping the Wood- You may or may not get a perfect slab, regardless, there will still probably be some wood preparation.
4. The Pick Guard- Note: This step does not need to be completed yet, however I do recommend it.
5. The Neck (part 1)- The neck is arguably the most important part of the guitar, might as well get the cuts out of the way first. (NOTE: I
did not make a neck, I purchased a neck, maybe I’ll make one on my next guitar ☺ )
6. Routing out the Body- Its easier to align templates up to a straight square edge, thus why I chose to do this step early in this
7. Cutting out the Body- FINALLY! It looks like a guitar!
8. The Edges and Sanding- Oh how tedious, but when its all done it makes you look damn good.
9. The Neck (part 2)- The bridge was the hard part, now its time to attach the neck!
10. The Bridge- This where boys turn into men, make it or break it.
11. Wire it Up- Time to make her speak!
12. Mock Up- But will she actually play?
13. Finishing Touches- The artistic standpoint.
Step 1: Materials
These are the materials I purchased for my guitar. The materials really can vary quite a bit, if they do vary, any measurements I include in this tutorial probably won’t work but that’s ok! That’s what makes it custom!
• 2 black passive humbucker pick ups
• 3 way selector switch
• Black input jack
• Epiphone style curved jack plate (black)
• Black tuning keys (6)
• Black fender style neck plate & screws
• Black tune-o-matic single piece wrap around bridge
• Pack of Fender Stratocaster Pick guard screws (black)
• Black “glass” (plastic really) Gibson style knobs
• Gibson (1) volume and (1) tuning pot
• Bone string nut
• 10 gage nickel guitar strings
• Dunlop strap lock strap button (2)
• Preassembled hand made unfinished guitar neck (epiphone style) purchased from songtielun on ebay
Lumber, Build and Finish Materials
• 22”x18”x2” hard white maple slab
• 8’x6”x.5” milled walnut board
• 3’x4’ sheet of Masonite
• 22’x30” pink ¾ foam
• ¾” wooden dowel
• Danish Oil
• Tru Oil
My overall cost for this project was around $300