3 String Slide Guitar




About: i am a photolab technician and an incurable packrat. i have made swords ,chainmail, crossbows.cameras,bike trailers,kayaks,guitars{slide and electric},knives,various film winders and vacum easels for the ph...

this is my homemade slide guitar.
its made out of junk and scrap and is pretty easy to make

Step 1: Gather the Bits

materials used:
1. birch board 1x3x30 inches{this is a good size if your going to make a slide guitar as the usual string length for such a beast is 22 inches}.

2: set of tuners from an old junked guitar{you know the kind all three are mounted on a stamped sheet metal bar on those crappy old student guitars that tear out the bridge after a few years in the closet} save the strings too.

3:a magnet and coil of copper wire . i used a coil from a soleniod that came out of a scrapped photo printer but you can make your own out of any insulated{varnished}copper wire . as for the magnet i took the steel magnet from an old stereo speaker.{you can use a real guitar pickup if you have one to spare}

4: a 1/8 phono jack.

5: a couple of pieces of aluminum or brass to make bridges {mine were cut from an old window frame}

6: a couple of those bolt/screws that are used as leg mounts on furniture.

7: various screws and last but not least a powerade cap{its like gatorade}

Step 2: Shape the Board

i was a bad boy and didnt document this step as i had no idea it was going to work at all but here is an early photo after it was sort of done and tested.{the copper pipe was added to get an idea of what shape the body should take}
but basically you shape the neck and headstock, drill the holes for the tuners,decide where the pickup goes and mill a pocket, lay out the hardware where it has to go and predrill all holes,

Step 3: Fret Markers

to get an accurate set of fret marks you will need to use a fret calculator.
here is a great online one
while your there check out the whole site its great for do it yourself guitars
be very careful to properly mark the frets then if you want you can cut them in with a fretsaw {i used a hacksaw} and you can fill the shallow cuts with white paint or bits of brass wire or leave them empty like i did

Step 4: Pickup

the pickup is just a copper coil wrapped around a magnet.
a real guitar pickup will work better here but almost any coil of a decent length will work {experiment first before you start}
the two leads from the coil go to the jack located on the lower edge of the board
first use a hole saw to cut a circular pit in the wood where you want the pickup(cut it the shape of your pickup or coil) dont cut all the way through or you will seriously weaken the wood.
run the wires back through a trench cut in the back{should be a nice neat slot . mine looks like a trench} to the pickup slot which should be located past the bridge to avoid too many holes and voids in the stressed part of the neck
after its wired and tested glue the pickup in the cavity and cover with the powerade cap{or any non metallic cover} glue in place if necessary.

Step 5: Locating the Nut and Bridge

when you decide what scale length you want to use mark from the nut{up at the place where the strings come up on the neck} the full scale/ string length {22 inches} then mark that place as where the bridge goes.
screw both pieces to the board{predrill or youll break lots of screws in the hardwood} 3 inches behind the bridge drill 3 holes 1/8 inch through the board for the strings to go through.
insert the strings (go from thickest to thinnest) lead them up over the bridge and over the nut then tighten them up with the tuning pegs
you`ll notice at this point that the strings dont come anywhere near the neck like in a regular guitar. that because you dont push in the strings with your fingers to fret the notes you use a bottle neck or a section of steel pipe held across the strings to change the effective lengths of the strings

Step 6: The Body

well this guitar doesnt have a real body it has a lower limb which is shaped to fit over your thigh so you can play it sitting down.
mine is made out of a chunk of mdf {medium density fiberboard} two holes are drilled through the end peice and into the end of the board and is held on either with screws of a screw/bolt used to screw legs on coffee tables and such.
its not terribly strong but it could be reinforced with a dowel between the body and the neck up at the point where it curves back towards the neck.
you might depending on your skill level want to bend some hardwood to make it or just use a bit of plywood scrap{stronger than what i did but uglier}

Step 7: Finish

varnish the neck to keep the wood from swelling and to pretty it up a bit
get a guitar slide{steel or glass) plug it in to you favorite amp. and torture you neighbors.
seriously if you dont know how to play a slide guitar your gonna make some awful noises but thats not covered here
any questions just ask

Step 8: Finish



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    57 Discussions


    6 months ago on Introduction

    well done i might pick your brain later on, never played before but might be a good way to see if i like it let alone learn how to read music , thanks


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Yes and No, the piezo would pick up vibrations from the guitars body instead of directly from the string, resulting in a less than electric sound. If you really want to use one I know Risa uses this method in their uke-sticks. Try placing it in the stall instead of under the strings.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    a piezo buzzer picks up the sound of the strings while a magnetic pickup has an electric current induced in it by the steel string moving in its magnetic field.


    8 years ago on Step 1

    This is constructive advice about your Instructions.

    you wrote
    " you know the kind all three are mounted on a stamped sheet metal bar on those crappy old student guitars that tear out the bridge after a few years in the closet}"
    Now on a good guitar that won't happen, but you should never leave strings on (Well don't take them off just loosen them a lot ) a guitar that will sit more than a month or two, because it will warp the neck or damage the bridge. Maybe you already knew this i thought I'd mention it though.

    P.S that is a cool looking guitar!

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Step 1

    quite true you shouldnt leave an acoustic guitar fully tensioned when stored long term,
    but everyone still does . i see dozens of cheapo guitars at yard sales every year and 80% of them have a bulged out top under the bridge. mostly its because they are so poorly made that disregarding proper storage is nearly always fatal to them.
    as for expensive acoustics i have only seen one or two that had a bad bulge and i suspect that more than being left under tension is the problem {humidity making the wood soft is biggest suspect}
    i was mostly pointing out that you could feel free to use the parts from a wiped out student guitar that wasn`t worth repairing anyway.
    but you`re right i should have struck a blow for neglected guitars everywhere and pointed out the abuse.
    :) also im glad you like it.


    10 years ago on Step 3

    so if your making a guitar does the length from the nut to the bridge have to be exactly the same for every guitar or could you shorten it if you didn't have enough space?

    6 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    You can shorten it a little, but to be able to tune the guitar at the same pitch you'd then have to reduce the tension on the strings. Struings have an optimum tension, and if it gets too low the soudn goes off and eventually the string starts to just flop about. That's why a uke is tuned an octave higher than a regular guitar, because its scale is half the length. So within limits you can do it, but not too far.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 3

    You are absolutely correct plutopia. The word used to describe the 12th fret  being the octave of the open string (so on and so forth) is called intonation.


    Reply 8 years ago on Step 3

    best thing to do if your building the neck too or if you need to shorten a guitar you can recalculate and reposition the frets to match it up but the positioning must be precise or the guitar will never tune up ie the 12th fret must be midway between the nut and bridge.
    just slappin the bridge on there anywhere without measuring will not work very well.if you have a neck already just measure from the nut to the 12th fret then measure from the 12th fret down the same distance and the bridge must go there,
    if your making your neck and the space is limited use an online fret calculater and get the spacings .
    you can find one here    http://www.buildyourguitar.com/resources/fretcalc/index.htm


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Ok well the amount i meant was off the top of my head around 10 cm not over, but im guessing that's too much. And just out of interest what do they do on a 3/4 length guitar then do they keep the length of the strings the same but alter the body size or something? cheers mdog


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    a 3/4 length guitar has a scale 3/4 as long as a standard 26 inch. the tension should be almost the same and the frets just get closer together. you can make the fretboard / scale almost any length but as mdog says the pitch will go higher{thats kinda why a bass is longer than a six string} if you pass a certain length then the strings get thinner and you have a uke and the body is usually smaller too


    9 years ago on Step 7

    sweet project! i might have a go at 1 this weekend. is that some kind of P90 humbucker!?

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 7

    naw its just a couple of strat pickups wired up like a humbucker.
     it did work ok but a p90 would work much better .


    9 years ago on Step 3

    ok this probably applies to this as does with real guitars the space from the nut to the 12th fret has to be the EXACT as the length from the 12th fret to the bridge aka the little moveable sadles they have on bridges, that way you can exact the distance

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 3

    quite true. all guitars have the 12th fret at the exact midpoint. no exceptions{that i know of} if you know the formula it is possible to work out where they all go. but i use a fret calculator because im bad at math.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I would like to build one of my own. Could you please explain how exactly you made the pickup? Extremely nice Instructable BTW.

    1 reply