Diy Cheap Bass or Electric Guitar




About: i love building and recycling things, since i was young, but now i got more on to guitars and electronics..

this is my first instructable.

this is an unconventional way of building an electric or bass guitar. i have built a total of 14 including this one.
one of the electric guitar that i have built has lived for 4 years now, but still plays that good.
my building construction has a downside, and i'll talk about that during the build process.
the advantage of this instructable is that it is cheap.

since i have have 7 guitars i decided to build a bass.

i dont know why, but this bass design from rickenbacker is so captivating to the eye.

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Step 1: Prepare Materials

-guitar hardware
machine head, pick ups, female jack, potentiometer, string

any hard type of wood, since the goal is to minimize the cost, salvaging wood is the best solution..
the only wood i bought is for the neck which cost about $8..

main tools -->hand saw, chisel, hammer, ruler(a T-square is much better), isometric triangle 30x60(it'll come in handy), sandpaper.
electronics-->soldering iron, soldering lead.
other tools -->scissors, screwdriver.

-marine epoxy
i dont know in some countries if this is available, but i think any industrial glue can be used.

to keep the budget low i used enamel paint

-other materials
big sized paper, pencil, shoe laces/clamps(is much better), G.I. wire, 

and pure muscle =) (for those with less muscles)..

Step 2: Design the Body

using any big-sized paper, draw your pattern.
things to consider when creating a pattern:
check if you have proper tools for creating the desired pattern.
if you dont have power tools, then i suggest you build an easier pattern.. i.e a flying V or a Dean ML
but if you are like me who is patient and wants to put a lot of sweat to their work, then go with any design.

also design the headstock, as for my build i took a rickenbacker design.

Step 3: Building the Neck

when choosing a wood for the neck, it should be hard types of wood, since most guitars use maple neck and rosewood fingerboards and has a truss rod. the wood that i bought is primarily used in building tables or door jambs it is even used for framing houses here in my place, and since i have build that many guitars before i can trust the wood i is 2"x3"x10ft.

f.y.i. --> it took me almost 5 attempts on building this type of guitar just to know what typical wood to use..

i cut it in half, the neck design is a neck through, all of my last guitar are design this way. i failed when i used a bolt-on design, so i never consider it anymore, and designing a bolt-on needs accurate wood work.

after cutting, find the right edges that would fit perfectly,

draw an outline of the guitar neck in its side, i suggest angled headstock.

Step 4: Shaping the Neck and Head

this is the most gruesome part of the build, if you dont have proper tools.. if you have power tools, then you have reduced your workload.

Step 5: Adding the Fretboard

cut a piece of plywood for the fretboard.. the fretboard should at least be wider than the neck.
since my neck scale is 34" the last fret, the 24th fret's length from the nut is 647.3mm / 64.73cm so add a least 1cm to accommodate the 24th fret.

Step 6: Adding Holes for the Machine Head

if you have a drill then work is much easier. if you dont have then follow my way of putting holes on the headstock.

first pound the nail to create a little whole to place the tip of the screwdriver,
using the screwdriver, twist the tip through the wood make sure you are perpendicular to the guitar head.
after you've punch trough the wood, use the chisel to broaden the hole, this is much more easier. if the machine head can fit in through then you're done, in my case i used a broken scissors to widen up the hole for the machine head.

Step 7: Adding Wood to Create the Body

if you have a long plank of wood then it would be easier to build the body of the guitar.
in my case i didn't have that option, so i recycled any wood i could find that is still in good condition,
i held it together using epoxy.

Step 8: Shaping the Body

Step 9: Fretting

Step 10: Routing the Pickups, Electronics and the Bridge

route for the pickups for the electronics part and for the strings access.

Step 11: Painting

this one depends on you..

not really an EVH fan, but i like the paint jobs on his guitar.
started out with white paint.
then using a masking tape, cover, to create the white stripe,
paint it with black, still the same put some tape on it.
finish off with red.

after the paint has dried, slowly remove the masking tape.

there is a downside when using enamel, when you paint it on top of an enamel painted surface, the paint does not hold that much to the surface, to alleviate this problem, let it dry on a warm weather, dont put it under direct sunlight, let warm wind dry it off.

Step 12: Soldering Time

depending on you, on what pick up configuration you use.
for my design i use a single humbucker with one volume.

Step 13: Other Hardware

as for the bridge i used any metallic hardware, it could be any from bolts to concrete nails.
for the cover i used a plywood.

Step 14: Test It

plug it into an amp and test it.

and there you have it a cheap way to build an electric guitar or bass.

conclusion i spend only about 85$.

some of the guitars i have built.

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    80 Discussions


    2 years ago

    i really loved this build it gave me an idea and im trying to put together my own instructable any advice ?


    Reply 4 years ago

    Sir.. san ka bumibili ng bridge ng bass mo.. san juan city lng ako eh.. mtgal ko na gusto magbuils ng gitara kaso ung nagtuturo skn pano gumawa eh nawala.. may ginawa sya .. rhods ung body then dime ung head. Tulad dn sau walang bolt.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    made one out of wood and epoxy..and place a metal strip on top, in some of my builds i use an acoustic bridge, plastic ones to keep it cheap.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Ok dude. Thanks for the info.. ill make my own too .. credits to you


    Reply 4 years ago

    Tapos 2x2 a ung size ng neck tapos pagdidikitin lang sila? May design kasi ako sir. So pag gawa lng ng neck pinoproblema ko.. sana matulungan mo ko


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    yes 2x2 would suffice.. you could just add more wood on the headstock if you want to have a wider headstock


    Reply 4 years ago

    well I modeled my fretboard from an can go in their website and look up at the specs of the neck. I think most guitar manufacturer's sites have specs on the width and length of their instruments neck.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Well thanks sir. I hope i can build my own guitar. Im here in manila. Same country folk. ;) can you give me an example of best wood glue


    4 years ago

    I'm a bit confused as to how you made the frets and stuck them on. Can someone explain?

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    I used GI wires, cut them and stick them on using marine epoxy then clamped and let the epoxy set..


    The body should be made from solid wood so that it gives sustain. Here is my DIY body made from jackfruit wood. The orginal is a Maya brand made from plywood I bought 30s years ago.

    2 replies

    6 years ago on Introduction

    how did you route the pickups hole?? Did you use chisel?? Anyway I'm a Metallica fan too and from Malaysia :)

    1 reply