Introduction: $35 DIY Electric Travel Guitar

Have you always wanted to build an electric guitar but have been intimidated because of the perceived complexity or high cost? Fear not, a basic guitar can be built using inexpensive pine shelving, all thread and cable clamps for the bridge, some glue, and a little thought for less than $40.

The items not available at any hardware store are: electric pick-up (eBay for about $6); tuning pegs (eBay for about $8); fret material (eBay for about $8); and guitar strings...(yep, eBay for about $5).

The rest of the little odds and ends are probably in your garage or basement workshop drawers. A few screws, some scrap wire, and maybe a phono plug.

For this build I used Inkscape to design the shape and then cut it out using a small 3040 CNC, but this project could absolutely be done using hand tools and a pencil.

The video shows the whole process. The entire build could be done within a few days, depending on how fancy you want the wood working to be.

The body is made up of two pieces glued together. The neck is layed in the body slot and glued up. The frets are glued into slots that were cut using a free CNC program called fretboard at (Fret distancing can be figured out at any number of online fret calculator programs like and then cut manually)

I used no volume control, no tone control, no truss rod, and no on/off switch for this build. The wires from the pick up go straight out to an old karaoke toy amp my kids outgrew 10 years ago. (A real amp would sound much better but surprisingly the guitar doesn't sound too raw even with this toy amp).

This was a fun project that was not overly complicated. In retrospect I would have made the neck a little narrower - this one is around 54mm whereas 48 to 50mm would have been a little more comfortable.

The end of the video shows the way it sounds. Excuse my playing - first time with an electric and a neck this wide.

Have fun with it and share your results! Thanks for taking a look.