Thinking of building my own guitar from scratch. - Jemsite
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-14-2010, 04:47 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Port Byron, IL
Posts: 502
Thinking of building my own guitar from scratch.

Alright folks,

I've been doing some research and came to the conclusion that I think I can build my own guitar. Of course, I'm going to be getting a book here soon for some more knowledge but I'm just wondering where the best place for me to find wood might be. Could I go into a place say like Lowe's and find something or where should I go?

Any advice will be greatly appreciated. I'm going to start trying to cut out shapes on some cheaper wood just to get a hang of it but then after a few cuts I'll try it on a better piece of wood.

Here's what I'm going for.

a strat style body with a bolt on neck.

Alder body
Maple neck/ebony fretboad hopefully 24 frets.

Pickups - Dimarzio. Not sure which ones yet.
Layout 1 single coil in the neck and 1 bridge humbucker

Trem: Standard vintage with a LR Baggs Piezo trem or just a standard wilkinson.

ummm... anything I'm missing? I'm not sure on a color but my mom has a Ford Edge with a orange rust color... really like that. Might go with something similar on the guitar with chrome or black hardware.

Any advice is welcome.

Guitarmattms is offline  
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-14-2010, 05:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 1,740
Re: Thinking of building my own guitar from scratch.

I'm not trying to dissuade or discourage you, but this is a very ambitious project, especially if you've never built a guitar before. I'd like to try someday but the first thing I do will be to assemble a kit. Why not check out the kits available from Carvin? Their 'bolt-on' kit is a Strat-style guitar with three single coils.

Or you could go with one of the kits from Martin or Stewmac. They are acoustic guitar kits, but you do more work including fret installation, whereas the Carvin kit has a pre-assembled neck. You would learn a lot this way and be better prepared for building another from scratch.

Lowe's or Home Depot will most likely not have the nice, instrument-grade wood you need. You'll have to find a specialty supplier, a lumber yard or shop that specializes in luthiery. Stewmac & Warmoth come to my mind instantly; there are plenty of others out there on the 'net. Good luck!


Hikey Mikey is offline  
post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-14-2010, 06:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: netherlands
Posts: 498
Re: Thinking of building my own guitar from scratch.

Hey There,

First things first man!

Im currently taking courses to become a luthier and im building my own guitar now.

1st step is theory.
2nd is drawingboard (make a technical drawing of you guitar on a 1:1 scale.
Be shure al the aquired messurments are there.And ALWAYS,AWAYS WORK WITH A MIDDLELINE on everything,molds,body,top,neck,fingerboard everything.
3d Make molds for your guitar.check them!(use plywood,easy to handle and never a waste if something goes wrong)
4th Know your woods and how to work with them.
The same with your tools.
5th get down to it and grind that axe!!

Ofcourse this is just a short version and i could go on until my enterbutton fades away.

Just fire,if you need some more info.

Its cool to create

Good luck. is offline  
post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-14-2010, 06:51 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Brampton, ON Canada
Posts: 553
Re: Thinking of building my own guitar from scratch.

I wouldn't be discouraged, just jump in, that's what I did. There's nothing more rewarding that playing a guitar that you built with your own hands.

I've built 2 so far and almost completed my 3rd. It is challenging but having great tools and knowledge makes all the difference.

A great resource is
A book that I read which really helped initially used to be found at this website, but the link didn't work for me.

The hardest part in my opinion is the neck. Measurement of the fret spacing has to be extremely accurate and fretting/leveling etc is quite hard. The body is somewhat easier however measurements still must be very accurate specifically bridge placement. Finishing is no picnic either but patience pays big dividends.

There are a couple of ways you can go that I know of:
1. like Hikey Mikey said above - order a kit and assemble it, this doesn't have quite the same appeal to me as building a complete custom guitar yourself.
2. build the body and finish it then buy a used neck or have a custom neck built for you. This virtually guarantees playability provided you've measured the scale length correctly and placed the bridge the correct distance from the nut. I recently had a custom strat style neck built for me by Warmoth. It was about $450 but nicer than any Ibanez, fender, or Jackson neck and totally custom to my specs.
3. Build the body and neck - a challenge but extremely rewarding. Note, you can buy precut fretboards. A great guitar tech can fret level and set it up to play beautifully. Here is the last one I did, it's a kind of JEM like guitar

Parts can be sourced from Warmoth Guitars, Stew Mac and your local guitar store (pickups, pots, knobs) to name a few.

Wood: - Homedepot, Lowes etc only have building grade lumber. You will have to go to an exotic wood store or find it on the net. There are quite a few places that sell instrument grade wood on the internet. This is a local store luckily for me that I buy at for example,

Most important is a good router - stay away from cheap routers that only take 1/4" shank bits, you'll just be frustrated by the choppy results.

Drum and Belt sander
Drill press
Good measuring straight edge.

A lot of time and patience but it pays off. It's kind of addictive and the more you practice the better you'll be (like anything).

Cost: It ain't cheap. Expect to pay $1,000 to $1,500 in parts if you are like me and demand Ibanez Edge or Original Floyd Rose etc. It adds up quick
Tremelo: $200+
Pickups: $100 each x 3 + $300
Tuners: $50-$75
Knobs, neck screws and misc: $50
Wood: $100
Finishing supplies: $200
Custom neck (optional!!): $450 (Warmoth)

Sounds like a challenge I'm sure but nothing worth doing in this life is easy!! (sorry about the philosophy)
guitvai1 is offline  
post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-14-2010, 07:52 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Adelaide
Posts: 2,561
Reviews: 34
Re: Thinking of building my own guitar from scratch.

Yep, as guitvai says: Just get in there.

Remember is your friend here.

I built my own body from scratch and it isn't that hard. Necks are trickier, but just make one out of cheap wood to start with, you can also buy preslotted boards which make life a lot easier.

Getting the right tools helps. You will need a drill press (pillar drill) router and a band saw helps. Also a planer/thicknesser and a belt sander. What ever you do get get some sort of sanding spindle, or a "robo sander".

First of all I would try and do a guitar with a natural finish, as paint and lacquer is a whole other world to master. I would probably encourage you to take an existing neck and build a body for that first.
nickcoumbe is offline  
post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 01-15-2010, 12:12 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Port Byron, IL
Posts: 502
Re: Thinking of building my own guitar from scratch.

Hey, everyone.

Thanks for all the wonderful advice. I've been doing my research today and I think I'm ready. Now, with me this is going to be your typical strat project. The only thing I want different is a LR. Baggs Piezo bridge. I think I'm obsessed with that thought of a electric/acoustic guitar in one. I also have been looking at the youtube videos and it seems pretty easy. The only concern I have is the neck. I know a guy down in Alabama that will build a custom one for $150. I think I'll go with him. Teddy Zane is his name.

Now, I've heard that you can use automotive paint on guitars... What do you folks think of this?

Anyway, once again thanks again.

Also, here's a pic of what I want to do.

It's going to be that orange rust color like you see on the ford edges. With Mirror Pickguard.
Guitarmattms is offline  

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