Jump to content
aberdeen-music
Sign in to follow this  
Stichman

Making Guitars

Recommended Posts

It's always been something I've thought about; my woodwork skills aren't THAT bad, but they aren't exactly up to luthier-like standards. I've read a few books on it, but it just looks seems so... hard. I think I'd want to start from scratch as opposed to using a kit, but I don't know if it's a realistic idea.

Has anyone built their own axe? Or had a go and given up? Is it as hard as it looks?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've built a few guitars from scratch and one from a kit. The easiest way of getting into it is to make a body and buy a neck from intornet or from bruce millers or somewhere. The neck is the hardest part to make well and how well it's made determines how well the thing plays. The body is far less important in my opinion.

If you want something simple to start with, make a telecaster. Can't get much easier than that. All you need is a router, a drill, some sort of saw and sandpaper or an electric sander (preferably of the belt variety). You could get away without the need for a router if you choose two pieces of wood approx half the thickness of the entire body thickness and cut out holes for pickups and neck in the top one, then once it's glued to the lower piece, it looks pretty much like its been done with a router. A good thing about this method is that you can hid all your wiring channels very easily by routing or chiseling channels into the inside face of either the top or bottom piece and then they can't be seen from outside the guitar which means you don't need a scratch plate to hide everything.

You can see a few of my guitars here:

PeteBuchan - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The white strat was made from a saga kit and is just used as an electronics experiment these days. It had about 22 different pickup combinations on it at one point. I'd avoid buying saga strat kits.

The diagonal strat thing which you can see me playing was my first body and has a fender neck. Something like that might be easy enough to start with if you can cope with the additional work of the body contours. It was made using the 'two piece' body method (although this is not the traditional 'two piece' method).

The telecaster shown with my ac30 was my second build, again using a neck bought from bruce millers. It's semi hollow (much like one of the other pictures showing the inside of a tele which will soon become my P-90 loaded tele). Sounds awesome - I recommend doing something like that.

The hollow 12 string lezzer was next I think. It's got a through neck and some nice rosewood accent lines. I put 'f-holes' on this one and you can hear the volume difference immediately so I'll be using f-holes on any hollow guitars I make in the future.

The t-bird bass is also through neck, and has LED inlays with a chaser circuit. Avoid making through neck guitars. They are just to be avoided.....at all costs!

I have a few others, but they are pretty much different versions of those.

Pete

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It's always been something I've thought about; my woodwork skills aren't THAT bad, but they aren't exactly up to luthier-like standards. I've read a few books on it, but it just looks seems so... hard. I think I'd want to start from scratch as opposed to using a kit, but I don't know if it's a realistic idea.

Has anyone built their own axe? Or had a go and given up? Is it as hard as it looks?

My Uncle has built a couple tele copies. He cut and routed the bodies himself, but bought the necks etc.

Maybe you should try that idea first to get you used to trying to line things up right, and intonation/scale length correct etc. Then you can try making one using a neck you made yourself. Perhaps you could use your 'kit' neck as a template.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I've built a few guitars from scratch and one from a kit. The easiest way of getting into it is to make a body and buy a neck from intornet or from bruce millers or somewhere. The neck is the hardest part to make well and how well it's made determines how well the thing plays. The body is far less important in my opinion.

If you want something simple to start with, make a telecaster. Can't get much easier than that. All you need is a router, a drill, some sort of saw and sandpaper or an electric sander (preferably of the belt variety). You could get away without the need for a router if you choose two pieces of wood approx half the thickness of the entire body thickness and cut out holes for pickups and neck in the top one, then once it's glued to the lower piece, it looks pretty much like its been done with a router. A good thing about this method is that you can hid all your wiring channels very easily by routing or chiseling channels into the inside face of either the top or bottom piece and then they can't be seen from outside the guitar which means you don't need a scratch plate to hide everything.

You can see a few of my guitars here:

PeteBuchan - Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

The white strat was made from a saga kit and is just used as an electronics experiment these days. It had about 22 different pickup combinations on it at one point. I'd avoid buying saga strat kits.

The diagonal strat thing which you can see me playing was my first body and has a fender neck. Something like that might be easy enough to start with if you can cope with the additional work of the body contours. It was made using the 'two piece' body method (although this is not the traditional 'two piece' method).

The telecaster shown with my ac30 was my second build, again using a neck bought from bruce millers. It's semi hollow (much like one of the other pictures showing the inside of a tele which will soon become my P-90 loaded tele). Sounds awesome - I recommend doing something like that.

The hollow 12 string lezzer was next I think. It's got a through neck and some nice rosewood accent lines. I put 'f-holes' on this one and you can hear the volume difference immediately so I'll be using f-holes on any hollow guitars I make in the future.

The t-bird bass is also through neck, and has LED inlays with a chaser circuit. Avoid making through neck guitars. They are just to be avoided.....at all costs!

I have a few others, but they are pretty much different versions of those.

Pete

I don't know how to do those 2 quote things.....

Anyway, nice work. Make me want to go out and try my hand at making something. A P90 tele sounds a good idea. How did you make the through neck?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started with five pieces of wood - one long 'fence post' shaped piece for the neck and centre block of the body, and four long thin pieces for the body wings (two either side of the centre block and one on top of the other). I shaped the wing pieces roughly and hollowed the out with a router before gluing them together and template routing them to the final shape. The top was carved with a plane, spokeshave and a lot of sandpaper! I carved the inside of the top pieces to match the profile of the outer carve in order to maintain a constant thickness. The rosewood stripes are just off cuts from the side of the fretboard glued into routed channels in the top of the body to hide my bad joins. I left the wood out in the garage over night before I glued it, didn't notice it had warped and when it glued, the joins were visible so I hid them. The rest is probably obvious enough.

Pete

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started by finishing other people's half finished projects. Just picked up one on eBay and finished it off.

Started with this:

01full.jpg

and ended up with this:

02body.jpg

Full story here

Since then, I'm doing a fretless based upon a Squier Bullet which my sister is going to decorate: w h e e e e . o r g

Resurrecting a 1966 Hagstrom: w h e e e e . o r g

A wide necked 5 string bass (just started)

I also have obtained the wood I need to do my first one from scratch - walnut body, Bolivian rosewood neck, African padauk fingerboard.

It's not too hard if you're at least a little handy with wood working and hand tools. It's a lot of fun. Best advice I can give you - be patient and use the right tools if you can!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×