Introduction: Build a Custom Electric Guitar

Picture of Build a Custom Electric Guitar

This is a picture of my "not so complete guitar" but it is a start... I always loved old school rock and also most modern rock and recently am learning I just thought my old used guitar could use a "makeover"

Step 1: Design

Picture of Design

Find a design. I used a Paul Stanley aka Star Child design, but you can Google different designs. find one you like next sketch the design on to a poster board. make sure you like the look, feel, and make sure that it will be comfortable!!! next get some MDF from home depot. I used 1/2" and another piece of 3/4" (shown in picture). but trace the design you drew onto both pieces wood. now the power tools!!! cut the designs out w/ either a 1. a ban saw 2. a saber saw or 3. scroll saw. both of the pieces don't have to be perfect just similar. (I'll explain later)

Step 2: Gadgets

Picture of Gadgets

I used old switches and gadgets but I'm pretty sure they can be bought at Radioshack (I love Radioshack) but I have 1 switch 4 knobs and one female / output jack. to put it together you will need some wiring diagrams (below) these are the wiring diagrams I used not to hard to understand. after your drive to Radioshack stop over at Lowes or home depot and pick up some heavy duty plexi glass. this is where the hum bucks and knobs etc are going to go.

Step 3: Componet Resting Spots

Picture of Componet Resting Spots

the componets need to be IN the guitar so you need to cut a place for them I used the 3/4" piece to cut into (more space see picture) the plexi glass pieces will rest on top of the holes. after cutting the plexi glass to the shape desired place them where you want them to go now take a drill bit and drill holes in both the plexi glass and the the wood ( these holes are for the screws to hold the plexi to the wood) during this step you should also dremel a pathway from the hum bucks to the componets to do this I used my dremel tool along with a drill bit. I made a line / cut with the dremel and a straight edge. then I placed the needed wires in the cut then glued the 1/2" piece on top. (also w/ the 3/4" you need to cut a place for the Neck of the guitar!!!!)

Step 4: Knobs

Picture of Knobs

for the knobs I needed 4 of the same thing and keep it cheap you can buy knobs at Radioshack or else ware but instead I used 4 plain white dice cool, cheap and I have a few extra (if I screw up or something) all I did was take my drill press and dill a hole the size of the top of the knobs. later when every things good and settled I'll put a dab of hot glue to keep it more secure. I use hot gleu because it will be easy to rip off if necessary.

Step 5: Whats Next?!?!

Picture of Whats Next?!?!

well from the pic you can see that, thats about as far as I've gotten (considering I started this in the winter and I hate working in the cold!!!) but next I have to drill holes for the string / chord holder and adjuster then cut the piece so both top and the bottom are the same shape, sand it smooth paint it's base coat, airbrush my design on it, and then clear coat it. shouldn't be to far down the road till this project is done. I'll update it later on. I know there are going to be millions of question so bring them on, I'll try to answer asap!! also I have no idea what design I should airbrush on, any ideas? send me a comment or message!!!! please, I really would like peoples input on that subject


Danmo Ma (author)2014-02-25


Aron313 (author)2012-03-09

Nice job! :D

freeza36 (author)2012-01-23

that looks amazing

genghistron (author)2011-09-22

Just a couple notes on Gibson wiring diagram. Gibson typically uses linear taper (B) pots for volume, instead of the log taper (A) that are illustrated here. Audio, or logarithmic taper (A) pots work fine, they will have more a useable middle/low volume 'sweep' but the top/high output is more sensitive, in other words the volume will drop will be more dramatic in the first few degrees than using a linear taper pot.
Gibson's also generally use .022uF capacitors for tone control. Single coil guitars like Strats/Teles/etc will typically use the .047uF caps because they roll off more high end. In a humbucker guitar the higher capacitor value may leave your pickup sounding quite dark and muddy.

Tyrssen (author)2011-08-27

Very nice!!! As to what design to airbrush on it: ooh, tough one. It all depends on what you're into. You've dared to be an individual in crafting your own guitar, why stop now? I've done plenty of custom car and motorcycle painting, and suggest you look to the world of custom automotive painting for ideas. I've been playing for about 40 years, and might even get good some day; but the only one I ever "built" was a Saga kit that I quite like, actually. Next I'll up the ante a bit with an explorer kit from I'll probably shoot a metallic gold finish for a base (over primer of course,) maybe dab it with Saran wrap for a "crinkle" effect while it's still wet, then shoot a candy maroon over "most" of it, sunburst-style. All this can be done from spray cans. I think.

wolf1728 (author)2011-06-18

I see my website has been referenced.
Unfortunately, the domain name was stolen from me last month.

The link should now go to

static911 (author)2010-12-13

i wish i would have found this befor i spent $72 on a poplar body blank but yall should look at they have a tutorial and suplies section that can be really helpfull in building your own guitar

kicker109 (author)2010-06-23

Is it okay if you can draw a proper schematic? because i cant really understand it... Sorry if I sound a bit rude

diy-guitar-guy (author)2010-01-06

i have a really bad idea, could you take an icelolly stic or summin like that and attach the two single coils together and put a new hole in and make a humbucker?

gtrgy (author)2009-11-22

hey i was looking at the wiring diagram and had a suggestion. Instead of using 500k ohm potentiometers, you should use 250k. This is because with single coil pickups that produce a sharper sound, the 250k bleeds of some of the harshness to ground , giving you a warmer tone.

TheMadTinker (author)2008-07-24

Those are actually single-coil pickups, not humbuckers. A humbucker is a pickup that (most often) looks like two single-coil pickups stuck together. The reason they are called humbuckers is that they cancel (or buck) the 60Hz hum that a single-coil pickup will produce when plugged in to an amplifier by adding together two signals that are out of phase with each other. Also, with single-coil pickups, 500K pots (those are the "knobs") are way overkill; for single-coil pickups 250K pots are preferred. If those were actual humbuckers (which a Les Paul-style schematic assumes) then 500K is the way to go. I'm sure that if you're using all the hardware that came with your guitar you should be fine, but if you're putting things together yourself, then you should be aware of these sorts of things.

slimguy379 (author)TheMadTinker2008-07-25

dude read the comments on the FIRST page, god damn!!

bobbyderf123 (author)slimguy3792009-11-15

this is a better page than the first page to point out a thing that only noobs would do, look at it this way, less people see his competely true comment so you look less like a noob

jacobguitar (author)2009-10-17

im doing something similar, the sanding is taking forever....what material did you make the pickguard with and what did you use to cut it?

pyroninja21 (author)2009-08-23

i want to make a blue sunburst guitar with double humbuckers it will be sssssoooooooo sweeeeet

The Jamalam (author)2009-08-17

That is a really nice guitar you made. 4.5 stars!

mike patterson (author)2009-06-16

the mahogany or walnut does not have to be expensive--re-cycle old furniture--beware of veneers and nails---old dining room tables can supply lots of wood, not to mention modern maple chairs with broken legs thrown out ....caution---do not destroy antique furniture--lots of other stuff around.

bigredlevy (author)2009-06-09

yeah, those are single coil pickups mate. it's easy to make a circuit to wire them in parallel so they would sound similar to a humbucker.

I used this circuit to wire single coils in one of my guitars:
it can switch the p-ups in series parallel or individually.

also, with the size of the cavities routed in the body of your guitar, i would not have recommended mdf. pine would have been a stronger option.

funky design though. nice work mate.

abadfart (author)2009-05-25

those aren't humbuckers a humbucker is two put together

486dx4 (author)2009-05-21

what did the neck come off of? it looks like a harmony or national. you should look it up on ebay, every once in a while those can be worth a pretty penny!

FunkNattidelic (author)2008-07-09

How much did this project end up costing?

my original guitar (aka crap) I bought from my friend for 20 bucks (all the dials, switches, etc.) mdf runs a bout 8 bucks a sheet so 2 of them and plexi glass is 8 bucks so about 44 bucks maybe 50!!! for the end result (well near complete) I think its well worth, also the brag rights are awesome. only thing is is to talk to chicks about guitars, you can only really talk about how well you can play the guitar, not about building one, cause the look at you and start to loose interest and start to drool..... I find this happens when ever you talk about anything to do with instructables. Or maybe I hang around to many stupid girls or maybe too many blonds. *AAAAAAAAHHHH it felt so good to say that*

heh, i know what you mean about talking to girls about building stuff. Most give you that zoned out ' im gonna pretend i get it...' type look eh? my friends whom are girls dont lose interest but most of them definitely don't get what im talking about =P . 50 bucks is a way cheaper cost than gbuilders instructable. But probably because he used solid hardwood and stuff. What turned me away from his was the outcome of 200 dollars! this is alot more affordable, great instructable by the way.

personally I hate this instructable it is very vague with not to many pictures, (compared to my others) but yes alot cheaper and even if you want you can go toyour local music shop, (we have a place called Big Apple Music) that carries parts such as necks, dials, etc. OOOh yeah I understand the "im gonna pretend i get it...' type look". thanks a lot!! keep on rock'n!!!

486dx4 (author)slimguy3792009-01-13

necks can get expensive sometimes, how much are they selling them for?

EVHphan (author)486dx42009-05-01

depends where you get the neck from.

slimguy379 (author)486dx42009-01-15

idk, as i said i took mine off an older guitar

486dx4 (author)slimguy3792009-01-20

thats what i alwais do, but ive been planning on trying to make one one of these days.

486dx4 (author)FunkNattidelic2009-01-13

its true, a solid body guitar can end up getting spensive!, a compromise is to use two sheets of wood, and secure them togather with a lot of glue and maby even a couple screws. i tried that with an old shelf for my first guitar, it worked ok but i did a crumby job of it and it started splitting. i used elmers glue and a couple screws, so yah, ive been better about that since

haha, not all girls are like that though! I'm a girl and this is my instructable. :) But really everyone should have GSL- guitar as a second language. I'll be trying to talk to the non-guitarists of my family about a really cool piece of gear or new picking technique and *deer in headlights*. sigh.

abadfart (author)FunkNattidelic2008-07-13

i have that problem with most people they just don't speak guitar

jackillac92 (author)2008-07-25

first off I think you should have sanded the body a lot more on the sides, second off I think that you should have used a good quality wood for your " guitar " and last off I think that you should have bought a SAGA guitar kit instead of jumping the gun and building a guitar straight up. my 2 cents?

486dx4 (author)jackillac922009-01-13

wheres the fun in that?

pyrohaz (author)486dx42009-04-25

Agree with you there :)

shawbob (author)2009-02-07

I have no idea what an air brush is but you could try putting 2 bits of tape parallel and "air brush" it of flick a paint brush over it then remove the tape to get a cool finish Maybe I want to build a guitar my self and do that over an unfinished Explorer body for my GCSE

pyrohaz (author)shawbob2009-04-25

Woah!! Where did you get an explorer body from!?! I have always wanted an explorer bass

axmon (author)2009-03-19

Why the hell would you want to make a guitar from custom wood

JamesRPatrick (author)axmon2009-04-02

Why the hell would you join Instructables?

axmon (author)JamesRPatrick2009-04-06

good shape though ax

axmon (author)JamesRPatrick2009-04-06

cos its awesome make a guitar from rimu

future3003 (author)2008-09-08

What the hell? DId you just make your guitar out of MDF???

slimguy379 (author)future30032008-09-08


486dx4 (author)slimguy3792009-01-13

sweet! i made a hollow body out of mdf and masonite =)

IPlayGuitar (author)2008-11-25

almost looks like the BC Rick Son of A Beast, which is much more hardcore, lol

sosexyiloveit (author)2008-10-29

Hey, can you send the design for that to Gbuilder? he's a guy on this site. Tell him it's sosexyiloveit

slimguy379 (author)sosexyiloveit2008-10-30

i have no true pdf file etc... i sketched my design out

slimguy379 (author)slimguy3792008-10-30

send him the link and tell him to sketch it out

drum=forarmmuscle (author)2008-10-14

did it actually work?

johnanderton (author)2008-10-12

do you know about the scale length and that if you don't have the bridge in the right position the guitar is never gonna be in tune and the intonation will be out on the higher frets?

slimguy379 (author)johnanderton2008-10-12

yes, i didn't build the neck (good job reading) and everything else was perfectly measured from the original guitar so im not worried....

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