I always wanted to have a compact guitar to take along when traveling. It shall fit a normal piece of luggage to also be taken along on a flight.
I looked at the usual suspect online shops, but travel guitars are expensive. I tried building one from scratch, which worked. But I wasn't satisfied. In the end, I'm not a luthier.
So I came up with the idea of modifying a guitar to make it as compact as possible. I found some ideas on the internet, so here's what I came up with...
Step 1: Find an Electric Guitar to Start With
I got a cheap stratocaster copy from ebay. They start from around 25€.
I find that they work best.
Step 2: Disassemble and Clean
Dismantle it completely, that means at minimum:
- the tuning pegs (as we will reshape the headstock)
- the neck (to properly work on headstock and body)
- the pickguard (electronics can stay in). desolder or cut the wires to the jack and the trem system
- the trem system
(Sorry, I missed to take a picture, but I'm sure you get it...)
Step 3: Headstock
Find adequate positions for the tuning pegs of high e and b string.
Use a string or anthing straight to see how the string would go straight.
Mark the positions and determine the "cut line", apporx 1.5 cm out
Cut and shape the tip as desired.
Drill holes (measure the others to find the right diameter)
Step 4: Shape the Body
Use the pickguard and mark the line you want to cut, approx 1cm out of the pickguard boundary.
Make sure to keep/plan for places to screw the strap pins.
Cut with a band- or jig saw
Step 5: Electrics
Only few steps left now:
Re-solder the ground wire to the trem system.
Re-solder the jack.
I also added a battery powered amplifier. You can leave that out, but that means you don't have an amp at hand...
you might have to route a cavity for it.
I did not physically wire the amp with the guitar, but used a short patch cabel to connect them to be as flexible as possible.
Step 6: Assemble and Enjoy
Attach the tuning pegs and the neck to the body
Mount the scrachplate
Use the jack plate insinde-out. You might have to drill a dent to make a jack fit.
Attacht the trem system. If you have a battery for an amp to fit, you can place it between the springs.
Cut the trem cover to the appropriate size.
Add the strap buttons to appropriate places.
Re-string and you are done!