- Max Kuehn
Looking for how to make an electric guitar? Electric guitars are one of the most popular instruments in the world. They are used in various genres, from rock and metal to blues and jazz. Check out this guide for everything you need to know, from choosing the right parts to putting it together.
What Kind Of Guitar Are You Looking For?
You can separate the visual and practical sides of this subject.
On the aesthetic front, you may already have an idea of your ideal guitar, or you may wish to create a duplicate of your favorite guitarist or the one who changed your life.
In that scenario, everything will be a little easier to figure out because it already exists and all you have to do is locate the proper specifications and measurements. (Keep reading; they might be here.) Things get hard when you want to alter ‘just a little bit’ or go all out and build an entirely new look.
On the practical side, you may already have an idea of the neck, scale, and pickups you want, the sound you want and the instrument that feels best to play. Eddie Van Halen designed his famed ‘Franken Strat’ because he liked the Stratocaster but wanted to customize it to meet his needs.
Steve Vai went one step further and constructed the ‘Superstrat’ with Ibanez, designing a guitar from the ground up to his specifications. You can build or experiment with whatever you want by mixing and matching parts, styles, and specs.
How To Make A Guitar Electric
Choosing an Instrument
Step 1: Create a body form for your guitar.
You’ll need a good notion of how you want your instrument to look before you start. You can use a classic model like a Fender Telecaster or a Gibson SG as inspiration or create your custom design. Draw the body in full scale on paper and cut it out once you’ve decided on a design.
The body shape of a guitar can be rounded, as on a Gibson Les Paul or Fender Stratocaster, or angled, as on a Gibson Explorer or Flying V.
You can also make your guitar into a unique shape, such as a square or circle.
Some guitarists prefer a single cutaway to get to the higher frets, while others like a double cutaway. You might also choose no cutaway at all.
Step 2: Gather your supplies.
Swamp ash, alder, mahogany, and maple are common electric guitar bodies. Maple and mahogany are popular guitar neck woods. Fingerboards are commonly made of rosewood or maple.
Some of these forests are rare or endangered, making them difficult to find. You can, however, experiment with any wood to make an electric guitar.
There is some leeway when it comes to the thickness of an electric guitar body. Choose a wood size based on the thickness of an existing guitar or your personal preference.
Each type of wood has a distinct tonal characteristic that produces a distinct sound. Dense and heavy woods, such as walnut and mahogany, have a thicker, more base-laden tone. Lighter woods, such as basswood or alder, on the other hand, have a tinny, brighter tone.
Step 3: Get the necessary hardware.
The appearance and capabilities of the parts you’ll need for your guitar are somewhat diverse. You can either choose based on the type of guitar you already own or try something different. Most guitar shops or online retailers carry the necessary equipment. You’ll need the following to play an electric guitar:
- a pickup or several pickups (single coil or humbuckers)
- A bridge
- Pegs for tuning
- A nut
- Controls and knobs for volume and tone
- a switch to change the pickups
- A connector for a 14-inch cable
- A pickguard is a piece of equipment that protects the pick from (optional)
- Pegs for straps (optional, but recommended)
- A truss rod is a rod used to support a structure (optional, but recommended)
- Wire for frets (if you are building your own neck)
Step 4: Purchase a ready-made neck.
It is recommended that you buy a pre-made neck unless you have a lot of woodworking talent and expertise. Because the neck is frequently the most challenging part to create, you could want to buy one and build the rest of the guitar yourself. You are still responsible for the remainder of the work.
Step 5: Double-check that you have all the necessary tools and knowledge.
Building an electric guitar does not require highly advanced tools or experience if you purchase a pre-manufactured neck, but it is also not a beginner-level operation. You’ll need to know how to saw, drill, sand, and solder and have the necessary tools.
It is possible to make an electric guitar solely with hand tools. Having an electric jigsaw, drill press, and router, on the other hand, will make things a lot easier and faster.
Step 6: If you want to make things easy, get a kit.
Several firms sell electric guitar kits that include all necessary parts assembled and ready to play. These are a good option if you only want to get your feet wet. While you won’t get the whole experience of building a guitar from the ground up, you will be satisfied with assembling and finishing it yourself.
Making An Electric Guitar
Step 1: Make a blank body.
Trace the design onto the wood you chose with the cut-out of your guitar body design. Cut through the wood with a jigsaw (or similar saw), following the outline you sketched.
After cutting out the body blank, sand the sides, you can also use a sander to round off the top and bottom edges of the instrument.
Step 2: Make a note of where all body hardware is located.
For reference, draw a line down the center of the body blank. Then, on the body blank, make markings to indicate where you want gear, such as volume controls and pickups.
You can place things like the volume and tone knobs, the pickup selector, and the plug input anywhere. Follow the design of an existing guitar, or go with your gut instinct.
Pickups should be centered on the fretboard, under the strings. Refer to the center line you drew to mark the position of the pickups.
The bridge should be positioned so that the distance between it and the nut on the neck corresponds to the neck’s scale length, which varies depending on the guitar. If you bought a pre-made neck, measure the scale length and place the bridge accordingly. The scale lengths of most guitars range from 24 to 26 inches.
Step 3: Take a body route.
To fit the electronics for the volume, tone, and pickup selection controls, cut a cavity in the back of the guitar (a hole that goes partly through the instrument’s body). You’ll cover it with some material afterward (usually hard plastic).
Each of the guitar’s pickups will require its cavity in the front. Rout the pickup cavity (or cavities) to the manufacturer’s suggested depth.
You’ll also need to carve a large enough cavity to bind the parts together where the neck will attach to the body.
Step 4: Drill holes for the electronics
As a guide, use the marks you created before. The number and placement of the holes will be determined by the hardware you’re using. However, holes are required in most cases:
- Hardware for the bridge
- Controls for volume, tone, and pickup selection
- Allowing the pickup wires to travel from the front to the back hollow
- In order to secure the cord input,
- Pegs for the straps (if you are using them)
Step 5: Finish or paint the body.
The way the body appears reflects a lot of the ingenuity that goes into building your unique guitar, so use your imagination here. The options are limitless! You could try:
- An oil finish gives your instrument a more natural appearance.
- A bright color with a high-gloss or matte finish
- To create a distinctive pattern, use multiple colors.
- For a unique look, paint a picture or design on the body.
Step 6: If necessary, cut the neck.
You might skip this step if you bought a pre-made neck (which is advised). Otherwise, you’ll have to cut the guitar neck to the desired width and thickness. To fit the tuning pegs, make the headstock end wider. Round off the back of the neck until it has a comfortable profile (with a belt sander, for example).
- At the nut, neck widths are typically 1.5–1.75 inches (3.8–4.4 cm), widening somewhat as the frets get higher.
- Make the headstock in any shape you like.
- It is advised, but not needed, to drill a hole across the length of the neck to insert a truss rod.
- Cut a small piece of wood the same width as your neck and glue it on top of installing a fingerboard. Give the fingerboard a “radius” by rounding the corners.
- Cut fret wire to size for each fret, then gently tap the frets into place before smoothing their edges. Because measurements must be exact, utilize a spacing template (available online).
- Where the fingerboard joins the headstock, glue the nut.
- Drill holes in the headstock for the tuning pegs if necessary.
Step 7: Attach the neck to the body with bolts or laminate.
Attach the neck to the body through the cavity you created previously. To secure the neck in place, use glue or bolts through the back of the body and the neck.
Step 8: Join the body to the bridge.
Because there are many different types of bridges, the exact directions for attaching yours will vary. On the other hand, the simplest variations only require a few screws to secure the bridge.
Hardware And Electronics Should Be Installed
Install the bridge, machine heads, nut, and other non-electronic components first.
Make sure you measure everything before screwing anything in that could leave a mark on the wood. You don’t want to leave a hole by screwing something in the wrong position!
Non-electric components are relatively simple to install; ensure everything is adjusted sufficiently but not excessively.
Depending on the pickup package you purchased, soldering may be required to complete the circuit. Everything is pre-connected in some products.
Place the pickups in the electronic cavities and secure them with screws. If the pack you ordered has different ones for the bridge and the neck, make sure you place them correctly. Because most guitars have two pickups, this is something to think about.
Attach the selector switch and the potentiometers to the pickguard. It’s also a good idea to screw in the output jack and solder it to the pickup.
Scratchplate And Pickguard
After all of the hardware and controls have been installed, you can install the faceplate. This is quite simple. Drill small holes through the screw holes in the wood to secure it in place. This should be done with a 1mm or smaller drill bit.
After the holes have been bored, you can begin attaching the plate to the body using screws. Start tightening the screws after they’ve been loosely inserted. This method prevents the faceplate from being broken by putting too much pressure on one material region.
You can either buy pre-made faceplates or design your own. Almost any material can be used. For a more natural look, wood is ideal, while plastic is ideal for a more modern design.
Strings Are Added
After all, the hardware and electronics are in place, and the faceplate is in place; all that’s required is to attach the strings and tune them.
The ideal method is to thread each strand individually. Don’t overtighten it and start tuning it right immediately. Once all of the strings are loosely joined, begin gradually tuning them up, one string at a time.
We can progressively get all of the strings up to the correct tension at the same time this way. Otherwise, you risk fully tensioning one string by itself, which would almost certainly shatter.
Is It Difficult To Make A Guitar?
Building a simple electric guitar is not difficult, but it is complicated and necessitates various skills and tools, including some specialized tools. On the other hand, building a high-end guitar is extremely difficult and requires a high level of talent in multiple areas.
What Is The Best Wood For An Electric Guitar’S Body?
The most prevalent neck wood for electric guitars. Maple has a consistent grain, is sturdy and stable, and reacts to environmental changes less than other hardwoods. It has a highly reflecting tone that concentrates more energy on the body wood.
How Long Does It Take To Make A Guitar From The Ground Up?
Each instrument takes three to six weeks to build at Martin, with more intricate guitars taking six months. The factory can produce more than 250 guitars per day at peak production. However, there is still some uncertainty because trees are living entities, and each piece of wood is unique.
What Are Electric Guitar Strings Made Of?
Guitar strings for electric guitars are mostly made of steel and nickel. An electric guitar string is usually made of steel wire that has been nickel plated, although you may also get strings made of pure steel or pure nickel, which have both been popular in recent years.
You are responsible for making the necessary decisions, gathering all necessary information, obtaining the resources, and purchasing all of the essential pieces. Utilize the checklist as a guide to help you plan out all of the minute details and discover anything you don’t already know.
Fidlar hope you found this article useful, and after all of that information on the theory, it’s time to go have some fun and make some guitars.