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Guitar Parts and Guitar Kits

Updated on July 1, 2009

Guitar Parts and Guitar Kits Help You Build a Guitar

If you're a guitar player you might have wanted to customize your guitar with some custom guitar parts at some time or another. Maybe you've wanted to build your own guitar from scratch, or maybe from a guitar kit. Building a guitar is doable if you can follow instructions, and are a little bit resourceful. You don't have to be a super woodworker especially if you're wanting to build an electric guitar. There are plenty of guitar kits and books to help you with your guitar building.

If you're looking for a book on electric guitar building then the Melvyn Hiscock book is probably one of the best. It shows you how to make three different types of guitars, one with bolt on neck, one with set in neck, and one with neck through. There are step by step guides, and it's also something you can adapt to other types of fretted instruments.

If you're looking to build a classical or steel string guitar the William Cumpiano is a standard. It's got lots of pictures and details. There are several mistakes in the first edition of the book, and it's been re-edited. Cumpiano also has a website where you can ask questions, and see what improvements he's made in the 30+ years since the book has been published.

If you want to go all out and build an archtop guitar, then Building and Archtop Guitar by Robert Benedetto is probably the best book out there right now. There are lots of templates to use included with the book and it's got a lot of jigs and things you can build to make your job easier.

Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology (Guitar Reference)
Guitarmaking: Tradition and Technology (Guitar Reference)
The "bible" of acoustic guitar building. One of the oldest, it shows you how to make virtually every component except the tuners.

Saga Guitar Kit

Guitar Kits Are the Easiest Way to Get Started

Probably the easiest way to get started is to get one of the Saga guitar kits from eBay.  They're around $100, the wooden parts are sealed, and the electronics just snap together.  It's pretty easy to put together with minimal tools and headaches.  I put one together and did have some problems with the neck sitting deep enough.  I have a router so I could fix it, but that would be tough to do without the right tool.  Still most people get them put together without any problem.  Lots of people will highly modify them.  They're great for that, you can get all the parts together in one place and they're inexpensive guitar kits with out being cheap.  Some of the guitar parts are better upgraded though.  The tuners are ok, but I upgraded mine.  I got a different bridge too, it actually wasn't as beefy as the original guitar kit, but I wanted a gold one to match the tuners. 

I think the kits are a good practice for working on your own guitar.  The Saga guitar kit is inexpensive and you can learn about how every aspect of an electric gutiar goes together.  It makes it much easier if you want to put some new guitar parts like tuners, or a new bridge or neck on your guitar.  You won't feel so bad messing up a cheap kit guitar, plus you can learn how to fix your own mistakes.  It's a great learning experience putting together a guitar kit.

Guitar Parts

Guitar Parts by Roadside Guitar via Flickr
Guitar Parts by Roadside Guitar via Flickr

Making an Electric Guitar

Building an Electric Guitar Kit

If you want to build an electric guitar this is probably the easiest of all guitars. A stratocaster style guitar, with pickguard and bolt-on neck is the very easiest. You don't need to bend the guitar sides like you do with an acoustic guitar, all you do is cut the guitar shape out of a slab of wood. You can do by hand with a coping saw if you've got a lot of patience. A jig saw will make the job much easier, and a bandsaw is best of all. You will have to rout out the channels for the pickups, and drill holes for the wires but you can do this by hand too if you want. You can use a chisel to carve out the spaces for the pickups, it will take a long time and it might look ugly, but it will be covered up by the pickguard. So, if you don't have a lot of power tools you can still make an electric guitar. The neck will probably be the hardest part to make, and if you like, you can get pre-made necks for under a hundred dollars. Pickups and pickguards can be bought together already wired up, you'll just have to connect your pickups to your output jack. You won't have to worry about making a bridge like you would with an acoustic you can buy bridges already made.

If you want to take the really easy route, you can buy all the guitar parts online, liket the body, neck, tuners, pickups, and then just bolt them together. You can get electric guitar parts like necks and bodies pre finished, that means you won't have to even paint them. There are also electric guitar kits out there many for around the hundred dollar mark. You get all the parts in one box, then just bolt them together. You can find vintage guitar parts too, or vintage reproductions. I highly recommend that you put your guitar together without painting of finishing it first, just to be sure everything fits. You don't want to finish it then find it doesn't fit together, because you'll have to drill, sand, or rout, then there goes your nice finish.  I made a telecaster from a kit, and used a lot of custom parts even though I didn't have to.  The kit gave me a good cheap starting point.

Bending Guitar Sides

Building an Acoustic Guitar

If you want to build an acoustic guitar, either steel string or classical it's a lot more tricky than building an electric guitar. There are some specialized tools you'll need. Bending the sides is probably the part that will be the most difficult for people, you'll need a tool called a bending iron. It's basically a pipe that is heated by gas or electricity. The sides are bent around this pipe.

Building a guitar neck is necessary for an acoustic guitar. The neck is fitted to the curve of the body, not bolted on, so it will need to be custom built for each guitar. The basic process is the same, shaping, attaching fingerboard, cutting fret slots etc. There are acoustic guitar kits, some have more parts done then others. For example the sides might come pre-bent, the fretboard is pre-slotted, etc. Some come with just the raw wood and you have to shape and assemble it yourself.


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