Building your own guitar - Made easy!
Ever thought about making your own guitar?
It is not as difficult as it may sound and in fact, there are many great reasons to consider building your own guitar.
Firstly, you can end up with a very high quality instrument for a fraction of the price. If you think about it, a lot of the top branded guitars such as Fender, Gibson, Gretsch are pricey to say the least, but if you buy good quality parts seperately, it can work out much cheaper.
Secondly, You have so much flexibility over what parts go into the guitar, how it's finished and the final sound etc.
Finally, it's a lot of fun. There is something magical about making your own instrument, and you can really get great satisfaction from the whole process.
So read on and I will explain just how easy it can be and will provide a few useful tips, pointers and things you should avoid.
Buy an unfinished guitar DIY kit
If this is your first time building a guitar, I would probably recommend you go down this route.
It is probably the cheapest and fastest method, and above all else the least complicated way of doing it.
It is possible to buy these DIY guitar kits that contain all the parts you need to build your own guitar.
You get a body, neck, machine heads, bridge, knobs, you name it - everything is included.
Most of the assembly is not too difficult at all, but you would need to have at least a little bit of knowledge of the function of each of these parts, but if you play the guitar, you will be quite familiar with them.
I would recommend separating all of the parts and grouping them into relevant groups. Most of it is just literally screwing parts together eg. machine heads can simply be screwed into the headstock. The neck will be bolted on inside the neck pocket, or in some cases glued. The holes are usually pre-drilled, so it is difficult to go wrong.
Before you do any assembling, it is usually easier to do any lacquer or paint work to the body / neck first, as it is a lot more difficult if you attempt it with all of the parts on. Personally I would try a natural lacquer for your first time which is straightforward to do, and can just be brushed on. Spray painting and decal printing are other options but require more skill, but there is nothing stopping you getting someone else with experience to do this part of it for you.
After you have assembled most of the parts, the most tricky part is possibly the wiring of the pickups to the volume / tone pots, jack socket, pickup selector switch. Fortunately there are countless examples of wiring diagrams available if you google it. Just google the style of guitar you are making + wiring diagram, and find one with the same configuaration. To join the cables to the parts, you will need a soldering iron. They are cheap to buy and easy to use. If you haven't used one before, have a quick look on the video below, and do a few trial attempts on something else until you are comfortable. Remember, if you make a mistake, you can always melt down the solder again and re-do it.
Once you have everything assembled and strings on, the guitar will need a setup. It is too much to cover here as there are so many different types of guitar and different methods of doing it, but again there is tons of information on the web and tutorial videos on youtube. What you are trying to achieve is accurate intonation and to get a low action without any strings buzzing or dead frets. It is a lot of trial and error, but you should get the hang of it after awhile. You can buy these complete DIY Guitar Projects here. Many styles are available and they are incredibly good value. You might feel you are limited with having to use all of the parts provided, but there is nothing to stop you using other parts are substituting for beefier pickups. Believe me, you can end up with a cracking guitar for around 100 - 150 euro and a little bit of work.
Check out this useful soldering tutorial.
Sourcing the parts seperately
This method entails buying all the guitar parts seperately.
The advantage of this is that you can completely customise the guitar to your own taste. You have huge flexibility over pretty much everything, and can really end up with a stunning guitar if you know what you are doing.
The downside to this would be that it will invariably cost a lot more. There are a lot of parts to buy seperately and these will all add up.
You will also have to be careful that the parts you buy match each other. Necks come in different widths and will not fit in every neck pocket in the body. Pickups come in different shapes and sizes and you will need to ensure that they will fit in the body and also suit the configuration of volume / tone pots and pickup selector switch. Likewise, machine heads have different diameters and must match the hole diameter in the headstock. There are quite a lot of things you need to get right, so I would not recommend this method for your first attempt, unless you have been playing a long time and have a good knowledge of guitar maintenance and setup.
Making the body & neck
Method 3 is essentially the same as method 2, except you are going to make the body & neck yourself, instead of just buying them.
This will be difficult if you are not proficient in woodwork and have a good knowledge of the mathematics behind calculating fret distances etc.
If you are going to shape the body and neck yourself, it is possible to buy 'blanks', which are available in different wood types. Basically you get the piece of wood and carve your body / neck out of it. You are going to want to have a nice finish so it is important that you are used to woodwork, otherwise it could look very unprofessional. You will also need to do your math in advance and work out the dimensions of the body and neck, and the scale length you will need for it to come together properly and make chords possible! The 'Rule of 18' can be used for the fret positions and I have provided a link to a useful article on it. You will also need to calculate where to position the bridge on the body and have to do all of the drilling yourself.
You can also buy guitar body templates which outline the exact shape and positions of parts. See the video below.
This method will give you the greatest flexibility in your build but is the most complicated. You really need to have a full understanding of exactly how the guitar works from a mechanical point of view. It is also essential to calculate all of your measurements and positions for all the parts in advance, because if you just launch straight into it, without any preperation, you are bound to get something wrong and could end up ruining the body or neck.
Guitar body mould
Using templates to build your body.
Get more out of your electric guitar with some creative wiring techniques
Did you know that there is a lot of interesting things you can do when wiring up pickups?
If you think about it, there are quite a few components involved:
A combination of guitar pickups, multiple volume & tone knobs, pickup selector switch.
There is usually more than one way to wire up your setup.
With different configurations, you can achieve different EQ results, different tones etc.
So go ahead an experiment!
Great Stuff on Amazon
Some good resources and products.....