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May 8, References. This article was co-authored by Aaron Asghari. In addition to writing and performing with The Ghost Next Door, he is the founder and primary guitar instructor of Asghari Guitar Lessons. There are 17 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 65, times. You might also be interested to learn more about how guitars are put together and function.
If you have moderate woodworking skills, you can build your own solid-body electric guitar. To make things easier, you can even purchase some parts pre-made. To build an electric guitar, start by cutting out the guitar body from a piece of wood like maple or swamp ash. Then, bolt a pre-made neck onto the body and attach the bridge. Next, install the pick-ups, volume control, and guitar cord. Finish by putting your strings on the guitar and testing out your instrument.
If you want to make the process easier, you could try purchasing an electric guitar kit. To get some design ideas for your electric guitar, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No. Log in Facebook.
You can also choose a unique shape for your guitar, such as a square or circle. Some guitarists prefer a single cutaway to access the higher frets, some like a double cutaway, or you might choose not to have a cutaway at all.
Choose your materials. Many electric guitar bodies are made of swamp ash, alder, mahogany, or maple. Common woods for guitar necks include maple and mahogany. Rosewood or maple are standard choices for fingerboards. You can experiment making an electric guitar with any kind of wood you would like, however. There is room for variation in terms of the thickness of an electric guitar body.
Select a wood size based on the thickness of an existing guitar, or on what feels comfortable to you. Each kind of wood has its own tonal quality that makes a unique sound. Woods that are dense and heavy, like walnut or mahogany, have a tone that's thicker and more base-heavy. On the other hand, lighter woods, like basswood or alder, have a tinny, brighter sound.
Professional Guitarist and Instructor. Personal interview. Purchase the required hardware. You can choose based on the kind that existing guitars you like use, or experiment with something new. Buy a pre-manufactured neck. Unless you have a lot of skill and experience in woodworking, it is recommended that you buy a pre-made neck.
Since the neck is often considered the most complicated part to make, you might consider purchasing one and building the rest of the guitar yourself. You still do the rest of the work yourself. Make sure you have the necessary tools and know-how.
However, having access to an electric jigsaw, drill press, and router will make things much easier and faster. Buy a kit if you want to make things easier. If you just want to get your feet wet, these can be a good choice. Part 2 of Cut the body blank. Lay the cut-out of your guitar body design on the wood you selected, and trace the design onto it. Use a jigsaw or another saw to cut through the wood, following the outline you drew. If you would like to round off the top and bottom edges of the guitar, use a sander for that as well.
Mark the position of all the body hardware. Draw a line down the center of the body blank for reference. Then, draw marks on the body blank to identify where you want hardware like volume controls and the pickups to go. Follow the design of an existing guitar, or choose what feels comfortable to you. Pickups should sit under the strings, centered with the fretboard. Mark the position of the pickups by referencing the center line you drew.
The bridge needs to be positioned so that the distance between it and the nut on the neck correspond to the scale length of the neck, which varies somewhat depending on the guitar. If you purchased a pre-manufactured neck, use its scale length to position the bridge accordingly. Otherwise, most guitars have scale lengths ranging from inches. Route the body. You will cover it later with a bit of material usually hard plastic. Rout the pickup cavity or cavities to the depth recommended by the manufacturer.
Drill holes for the electronics. Use the marks you made earlier as a guide. Generally, however, you will need holes:  X Research source For the bridge hardware For the volume, tone, and pickup selector controls To allow the pickup wires to pass from the front cavity to the back one To fit the cord input in place For the strap pegs if you are using them.
Paint or finish the body. Much of the creativity that comes from making your own guitar shows in the way the body looks, so use your imagination here. The possibilities are endless! You might try:  X Research source An oil finish to give your guitar a natural look A colorful paint and either a high-gloss or matte finish Multiple colors to create a striking pattern Painting an image or design on the body for a standout look.
Cut the neck, if needed. If you purchased a pre-manufactured neck recommended , skip this step. Leave the headstock end wider to accommodate the tuning pegs. Round off the back of the neck using a belt sander, for instance until it has a comfortable profile. Make the headstock whatever contour you like. Routing a hole through the length of the neck to insert a truss rod is recommended, but not required.
If you are adding a fingerboard to your neck, cut a thin piece of wood to the same width as the neck, and glue it on top. Measurements need to be highly precise, so use a spacing template available online. Attach the tuning pegs to the headstock, drilling holes if necessary. Bolt or laminate the neck to the body. Attach the neck to the body where you previously made a cavity for this purpose. You can glue the neck in, or run bolts through the back of the body and the neck to fix it in place.
Attach the bridge to the body. There are a number of types of bridges, so the exact directions for attaching yours will depend on its design. The simplest varieties, however, simply require a few screws to fix the bridge in place. Part 3 of Drop the electronics into place. Run the pickup wires through the holes you previously drilled. Drop the pickups into the cavities on the front of the guitar body, and fix them into place with the screws provided by the manufacturer.
Do the same for the volume, tone, and pickup selector controls, as well as the input for the guitar cord. Solder the electronics. The pickups you purchased should come with a schematic that shows exactly how to connect these to the controls and to the input for the guitar cord.
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So here, in twenty steps, is a basic plan for building your first home-made axe. A disclaimer is in order. As rewarding as building a guitar can be, it can also be difficult. This guide will give you some options to make it as easy as possible.
Another piece of mental prepwork that must be stated up front: do not think you will finish this overnight. A natural place to start is deciding on the body type you want. You can look through catalogs and web-sites to get inspiration, and think about some of the most influential body types:. Known for its asymmetrical double cut away, its light, contoured body, and its classic configuration of three single coil pickups, the Fender Stratocaster is the model for the most popular body style in solid-body electrics.
It offers a lot of versatility and easy access to the top frets. A slightly heavier single cutaway without the contour of the Strat, the telecaster is a simpler body style to make. In its classic setup, it is a favorite of country musicians and is gaining popularity with alternative rock guitarists. With its symmetrical, sharp double-cutaway, the SG is a thin, relatively light body style designed for easy playability and full neck access.
Fitted for two humbucker pickups, it is a favorite for hard rock and metal players. Easily among the heaviest of electrics high-end ones are lighter , the Les Paul delivers a warm and full sound with a ringing sustain.
With a carved top, raised pick-guard, and rounded profile, it is widely considered one of the most attractive guitars. You can select from a range of woods that will significantly vary the sound profile of your guitar. Some of the classic woods used in electrics are becoming rare and expensive, so you might look for a substitute, but here are three of the classics and their sounds:. Ash: a hard wood that produces a bright and biting tone. Commonly used for Fender Telecasters to deliver that country twang.
Mahogany: Common for Gibson guitars and particularly the Les Paul, mahogany is a heavy wood that produces a warm sound with a lot of low end. Wood used for the neck will affect its weight, playability, and tone. Here are some of the most popular choices:. Maple: A hard wood that delivers a bite. Particularly common in Fender guitars.
Mahogany: If you really want to round out the thick, warm tone, you might consider a mahogany neck. Just remember that you might end up with a very heavy instrument.
Rosewood fretboards are typically flat and smooth and better for moving quickly around the fretboard. A must for shredders. If you make the neck from scratch you would need to laminate this piece to the neck. For your first guitar, you will have a much easier time if you stick with the hardware that is common for the different body styles, although you can mix and match. Probably the most important consideration is the pickups. There are many to choose from, and you can find just the right ones for you in the catalogs of major manufactures like Dean Markely or EMG.
As far as general categories to consider in your planning, there are two:. They can be very nice for clean tones. However, with added overdrive and distortion, they can get noisy.
They are designed to cancel out the noise you would get with single coils hence the name hum-bucker. When you have an idea of the body and neck you want, you might consider looking online for a template. Aside from simply cutting the body shape, you need to route out space for all of the components in the guitar. A template can greatly help you simplify this. You might also consider buying a neck pre-made for your first project. Carving out the frets and hollowing out space for the truss rod require a lot of precision work with a lot of room for error.
It could take some practice to get it right. You need a jigsaw, router and sander to shape the body. The neck requires some specialized tools. Luthier sites will give you a full list of tools you will need to make your guitar. If you are using a template, you have a design ready to cut.
If you are drawing your own, trace the plan to scale on the tonewood you purchased for the body. Make sure with the latter option that you draw out the plans for where the hardware will go. With the body of the guitar formed, you need to route out spaces for the hardware.
Make sure you have planned out the right depth, and use a depth guage for accuracy. You can paint the body at this point, or you can wait until you have finished the project and then disassemble it. It will need a long time about two weeks to properly dry. You need to apply a coat of wood primer before painting with good quality spray paints and then applying lacquer. Make sure you are following specifications for how it will need to connect to the body. You also need to hollow out space for the truss rod.
Finally, for a rosewood fretboard, you will need to laminate the board to the neck. As mentioned previously, preparing the neck requires specialized tools and needs to follow precise specifications. If you are setting it up yourself, you will want to look up step-by-step instructions specifically for this process. Some premade necks will still require you to place frets in the fret slots.
This will require fret wire, a fret hammer, and cutting pliers. You will cut the wire to make the basic length of each fret, hammer it in, and then trim it to be flush with the neck. Using a dremmel for the trimming could save you some hassle and lead to a better result. You planned out your hardware but it is best to make the purchase after you know you have the body and neck built and made sure they will fit together. If you have made it to that point, you are ready to put in the hardware components.
Realize that you may need to do some basic soldering. If you need some guidance in that area, you can get it in a free course on metalworking. Depending on the type of guitar you made, you will take one of two methods to piece it together. You may bolt the neck on, which is a simple process that makes Fender guitars easier to mass produce. The alternative is laminating the neck on, which is common for Gibson guitars, and it is a bit more intensive and permanent.
This will include adjusting the action, the truss rod, the bridge and the tuning. When you have got your new guitar pieced together and set up, plug it in and make some noise! And if you are looking for a step-by-step system for mastering your new instrument, try a comprehensive online course on playing guitar. More Guitar Courses.
Get a subscription to a library of online courses and digital learning tools for your organization with Udemy for Business. Joe Lowmiller. Share this article. Think this over A disclaimer is in order. Plan for some time Another piece of mental prepwork that must be stated up front: do not think you will finish this overnight. Gibson SG With its symmetrical, sharp double-cutaway, the SG is a thin, relatively light body style designed for easy playability and full neck access.
Gibson Les Paul Easily among the heaviest of electrics high-end ones are lighter , the Les Paul delivers a warm and full sound with a ringing sustain. Pick your tonewoods You can select from a range of woods that will significantly vary the sound profile of your guitar.
Some of the classic woods used in electrics are becoming rare and expensive, so you might look for a substitute, but here are three of the classics and their sounds: Ash: a hard wood that produces a bright and biting tone. Alder: A light wood with a balanced tone. Common in the Stratocaster. Plan the neck Wood used for the neck will affect its weight, playability, and tone.
Here are some of the most popular choices: Maple: A hard wood that delivers a bite. Plan the hardware For your first guitar, you will have a much easier time if you stick with the hardware that is common for the different body styles, although you can mix and match. Consider buying a template When you have an idea of the body and neck you want, you might consider looking online for a template. Consider buying the neck You might also consider buying a neck pre-made for your first project.
Get your tools together You need a jigsaw, router and sander to shape the body. Draw and Cut the body If you are using a template, you have a design ready to cut. Route the body With the body of the guitar formed, you need to route out spaces for the hardware.
Paint the body You can paint the body at this point, or you can wait until you have finished the project and then disassemble it.
Prepare the neck As mentioned previously, preparing the neck requires specialized tools and needs to follow precise specifications. Fret the neck Some premade necks will still require you to place frets in the fret slots. Buy and place the truss rod You can pick up a truss rod, ready to place in the neck at most music stores. Buy and setup the hardware You planned out your hardware but it is best to make the purchase after you know you have the body and neck built and made sure they will fit together.
Bolt it together or laminate it Depending on the type of guitar you made, you will take one of two methods to piece it together. Plug it in When you have got your new guitar pieced together and set up, plug it in and make some noise!