Introduction: The Absolute Worst and Utterly Terrible Way to Build a Folding Guitar

Picture of The Absolute Worst and Utterly Terrible Way to Build a Folding Guitar

in this instructable, I will explain how to create a folding electric guitar out of a few pieces of hardware and an old guitar. (you could use a new one, but I don't recommend it). this instructable is not for people not willing to compromise the structure and even playability of a guitar.

UPDATE:: there are lots of better ways to do this. I just documented mine. I know this compromises pretty much everything that a good guitar should have. the thing is, my guitar didn't have those qualities. so that's why I did it. I've actually already gutted and thrown out the guitar (kept the insides for replacements, see), but it would work if you needed it to.

Step 1: Remove the Strings of the Guitar

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you'll need to take off the strings. if you can't do this, just stop right now.

Step 2: Remove the Neck

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there are four screws on the back. remove them.

note- there may be some glue holding it on. mine was old and has suffered some damage, so the glue was no longer holding.

Step 3: Remove the Pickguard

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next, take off the pickguard. you'll generally want to just unscrew everything you see.

Step 4: Remove Part of the Neck

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this is the point of no return. if you do this, there's no going back.

you're going to want to take off some of the end of the neck. it's hard to explain, so look at the picture.

Step 5: Attach the Hinge

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you're going to need the best hinge you can find. I couldn't find a good one. anyway, mark and drill your holes, then screw on the hinge.

Step 6: Mark and Screw the Hinge Into the Guitar Body

Picture of Mark and Screw the Hinge Into the Guitar Body

now, mark where the hinge needs to go on the guitar body so that the neck swings out of place and back again. make sure you do this carefully; I did it wrong the first time. also, because my guitar is about as cheap as a turd, it's made of laminated plywood. which is not good for holding screws horizontally. so, I added a little shim on the other side to hold it.

Step 7: Put the Electronics Back In

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um, yeah. make sure they go back where they should be. then put the pickguard back on.

Step 8: String Winder

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this is the hardish part. we're going to make the apparatus on the back. first, get a large, round piece of wood. I found an old piano leg, so I used that. you need to drill holes for strings, axle, and pin (to keep it from turning).

the hole for the axle is drilled straight through. I would reccomend using a drill press. I don't have one. my axle is crooked. get my point?

the holes for the pins go in the sides. you might want to make a few, because you never know what position your cylinder might end up in.

the holes for the strings are drilled at an angle. they are this way because it causes less stress for the strings.

sorry about the ms schematics, this step took both hands. also, I forgot to take pictures.

Step 9: Mount on Guitar

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now, you'll need to use L-brackets to mount it. I had to make mine, I didn't have any. make sure they're strong. I would reccomend one with four screwholes holding it to the guitar. then, put a bolt through it and it's mounted.

Step 10: I've Made It, How Do I Use It?

Picture of I've Made It, How Do I Use It?

to use it, you need to put strings on it. first, put the strings through the six holes in the cylinder, making sure they aren't too big to hold the strings. (if they are, you could just use washer to hold them.) then, string it like a regular guitar.

to keep the neck down while playing, screw in the top two screws originally used to hold on the neck and tune. when you want to collapse it, unscrew them, then roll the cylinder until the strings are wound around it and are kept out of place.

I don't have an original picture for this step. suck it up.

Step 11: Ending Notes

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when the guitar is closed, you may want to put a towel or something in between the neck and the body to keep it from damaging itself.

this guitar doesn't hold a tune. my guitar didn't hold a tune before, so that might be it, but be warned.

you may want to add side guards to the string organizer. on my design, the strings would fall off the side of the cylinder.

I know this is not an original idea. but it's original because I am the first to DIY this guitar (as opposed to the commercially available one).

this method doesn't work for fused neck guitars. only bolted ones.

you can endlessly adapt this method. I'm just documenting mine. for instance, ironsmiter added this comment (this is just an excerpt):

Step 4 ; It's usually called a Rabbet. Sometimes, mistaken for a Dado(which is really only a rabbet on the face side of the board, rather than the side).

Step 5 ; I think a Door hinge(maybe a little overkill) would be plenty strong, and a brass one might look nice too.

By using 2 dead-bolts on the back, and a piece of velcro strap, you could avoid the whole string winder issue. Basically, loosen the strings a bit with the tuning pegs, wrap the lower neck once with the velcro strap, undo the deadbolts, and fold. The strap should hold the strings pretty well in place, and the dead bolts should resist the folding forces well, when re-tuning the guitar.

I really like the strap idea- the string winder seemed like a good idea, but it doesn't work as well as i'd hoped. this just reiterates the idea that this isn't set in stone, and it's an endlessly changeable project.


freeza36 (author)2012-02-20

these are very vague instructions

nckballer (author)2009-06-05

Will you post a vid this is an amazing idea good job!

codongolev (author)nckballer2009-06-06

sorry, I don't have a camera. but I really don't know how a video would help.

freeza36 (author)codongolev2011-12-02

If you don't have a camera, how did you make the 'ible? Or do you mean you don't have a video camera?

codongolev (author)freeza362011-12-04

I don't have a video camera.

goeon (author)codongolev2009-06-08

the video for sound quality

WickeD12 (author)2011-09-17

man... strats look so empty without the pickguards...

codongolev (author)WickeD122011-09-19

I just thought that while i was here, I would mention again that this was an absolutely terrible idea and an awful way to go about doing this.

WickeD12 (author)codongolev2011-10-18

lol dont worry i wont try it on mine

gotanysparecake (author)2010-12-22

Youre a lefty!

yes I am. I haven't looked at this instructable in years. so full of terrible ideas.....

like the fact that you have to re string and tune it every time XD

how can someone, it two years, go from complete idiot (let's go cut up a guitar and throw in a door hinge!") to a pretty competent maker? (and if this is how the whole "making" thing is going to go, I should be able to do some amazing stuff by the time I'm 18 and allowed to buy all the "off limits" stuff in the hardware store.)

codongolev (author)codongolev2011-09-19

now I'm seventeen and just finished building a pretty great catapult in engineering. man, this instructable sucked....

ToddisI (author)codongolev2010-12-31

lol im so used to seeing right handed guitars, when i saw the pictures i figured it was some foldable guitar drawn and cut out of cardboard... LOL

codongolev (author)2010-03-06

mexico. but it's a good one. some that come out of mexico aren't too hot.

codongolev (author)2010-03-06

whatever you do, don't make it folding.

chevyboy666 (author)2009-09-18

That was an Epiphone strat style. I have a similar one, same p-up combo & bridge but the headstock is the Batwing type that's on the new Wilshires. The only problem i had with mine were the stock pickups. I swapped them out & had a really nice guitar for about 150 buck total. Being left handed sucks, finding ANY guitar is half the damn battle.

codongolev (author)chevyboy6662009-09-19

are you left handed? yeah. I was at guitar center. they have walls upon walls of guitars. I asked where the leftys were. they pointed me to a single support beam with about 10 guitars on it labeled "lefty land".

Guitar_slave (author)2009-09-17

this is very good project but it does terrible thing to guitar i wouldn't personaly tried it made it well done!!

codongolev (author)Guitar_slave2009-09-19

yeah.... I was willing to risk that guitar's life for a contest, but I didn't win, so whatever. the guitar was already terrible, though. it's been dropped so many times. the worst was on one halloween. I dressed up as a rock star. I had heelys to collect candy faster (and therefore more candy). a rock got lodged inside. the wheel locked up. the neck split in two lengthwise down to the second fret. that was an awkward trip to the repair shop.....

codongolev (author)2009-08-26

no, it was ruined long ago. that's why I did it. I've long since gutted and thrown away this guitar. the tone was always crap, and now it just has a lot of extra unneeded hardware. I now have a strat, so yeah.

fatfanny (author)2009-07-30

purdy guitar

codongolev (author)fatfanny2009-08-02

not up close, it's not.

fatfanny (author)codongolev2009-08-04

at least your whammy bar didn't break inside the bidge, that is if you have one, cuz i don't see oine here

kneecaps (author)2009-06-23

this is not a good idea. it will change the guitars natural tone. changing the wood and how it is attached in anyway will have an effect on how it sounds. it will ruin the sustain immensely i would imagine. vibrations are meant to be carried out through the guitar, not to be cut off by some hinge. the tone will also be shortened, there wont be as much as there was before. portability is the only upside. but sacrificing tone and sustain? i wouldnt. i would only do this to a very cheap guitar just for on the go. nothing else. especially for a guitar you use all the time

codongolev (author)kneecaps2009-06-29

the guitar sucked in the first place. I said that in the instructable. it's been dropped too many times to count. it's been repaired once. the sound is like rocks in a tin can. I figured I can't make it much worse. there was barely any tone or sustain anyway.

blackcorvo (author)2009-06-19

you could have done the string winder not that big... it may be really uncomfortable to play with that thing in there O.o and yeah the project is really cool... but I remember of seeing a guy that created a folding guitar, if I'm not wrong he's from the US airforce and was tired of having his guitar damaged when travelling so he made something that could fit inside a common school bag and now he sells that guitar... anyway you did a nice job!

randofo (author)2009-06-02

I am a bit confused here. Why would you want to fold a guitar?

codongolev (author)randofo2009-06-02

it makes it just a little bit more portable. it could fit in a backpack, for instance.

Keith-Kid (author)codongolev2009-06-06


Keith-Kid (author)randofo2009-06-06

WHY wouldn't I?

pstretz (author)2009-06-03

wouldn't everything be easier to put the hinge on the back so that the back of neck folds to the back of the guitar? All you'd have to do is loosen the strings to fold it, then straighten it out and tune it up.

Wesley666 (author)pstretz2009-06-03

you would have to loosen the strings all the way until they came off or snap them and its really annoying having to put strings on again.

pstretz (author)Wesley6662009-06-03

It depends on how loose you put them on. I usually make sure the string goes around the post a couple times so it keeps better tune. This would probably be loose enough without having to be removed. It's worth a shot. :) having to re-string it would for sure be unpleasant.

Wesley666 (author)pstretz2009-06-04

ya but this also stretches the strings too.

pstretz (author)Wesley6662009-06-04

Yes it does, and that's a huge benefit. I was just looking for a way that would not have a huge can on my guitar. :) at least in this ible solution it's hidden, though i think it may be uncomfortable to play with it's placement here. I typically do not have a need to unfold and play at a moments notice, but I'm sure others do. That's what makes this world great, differences. I would have time to tune it, so I could get away with using a different solution. If you have to unfold and play this solution works great for you.

codongolev (author)pstretz2009-06-04

with this placement, the string thingamajig (for lack of a better word) is just out of the way. but it's not going anywhere, so you can't really play very animatedly.

this is probably not the best design, I just documented what I did.

codongolev (author)pstretz2009-06-03

well, you would have to loosen the strings quite a bit, and that would take quite a while. but that is a great idea. (just another way the instructables community is like a giant brain.)

musher (author)2009-06-04

I made my guitar fold so it would fit in a suitcase. These days on the budget airlines in the UK you have to pay for each bag carried so a guitar case is an extra cost whereas if the guitar fits in your normal case it's only one charge! By using a bolt to fix the neck behind the hinge means that once it's tightened up fully you have the same tuning as before. If you loosen the bolt a bit you have a funky tremeloe effect by pulling back on the neck. Keeping the guitar strung whilst folded makes it dead simple to use, about 1 minute between taking out of the case and unfolding it to start playing.

pstretz (author)2009-06-03

that'd be great! you could tune them at the base like the headless guitars.

ironsmiter (author)2009-06-02

Step 4 ; It's usually called a Rabbet. Sometimes, mistaken for a Dado(which is really only a rabbet on the face side of the board, rather than the side).

Step 5 ; I think a Door hinge(maybe a little overkill) would be plenty strong, and a brass one might look nice too.

By using 2 dead-bolts on the back, and a piece of velcro strap, you could avoid the whole string winder issue. Basically, loosen the strings a bit with the tuning pegs, wrap the lower neck once with the velcro strap, undo the deadbolts, and fold. The strap should hold the strings pretty well in place, and the dead bolts should resist the folding forces well, when re-tuning the guitar.

BTW, How do you keep YOUR guitar from folding back up, from the tension of tuning? Without something to lock it in the "playable" position, it seems like a very dangerous thing to try playing.

DOH, never mind, I see.... you replaced your neck screws before tuning.

codongolev (author)ironsmiter2009-06-03

like I said at the end, this is just my interpretation on this idea. you bring up some nice points..... the string winder is quite tedious, and it makes it hard to use (and the tuning is a little funky). I'm going to add this to the instructable.

musher (author)2009-06-03

I've done something similar with a steel strung acoustic backpacking traveller guitar so that it will fit in a normal suitcase when flying. To secure the hinged part of the neck I used two of the metal sleeves that a door bolt slides into and an ordinary nut and bolt through them. Putting a capo on the first fret before unbolting the neck and folding the guitar stops the strings coming unwound from the tuning pegs.

codongolev (author)musher2009-06-03

yeah.... I just used coat hanger and a rubber band as a capo-like thing right above the nut. it may be one of the reasons it doesn't tune well. or, it could be the fact that it's old as the pyramids and has been seriously dropped twice and repaired once. oh well, I have a strat now.

About This Instructable




Bio: Christian, MECE student, amateur guitarist, occasional pipe smoker, human, probably not dead. yep.
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