Who here builds guitars? What's your story? - Jemsite
Tech: Setup, Repairs and Mods Guitar workbench discussion such as setup, repairs, mods, installing new parts and more.

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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-11-2015, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Louisiana, USA
Posts: 238
Who here builds guitars? What's your story?

I know of a few of you do, but I’ve been wondering who all here builds and/or modifies guitars and what your back story is? How long have you been doing it, what got you into building, did you have someone teach you or learned on your own, do you do it professionally or as a hobby, any interesting stories, etc etc?

As for me, I’ve been doing builds since 03/04 so a tad over 10 years. What initially got me interested was I wanted a new guitar but was bored with all the typical designs. I wanted something different and unique and thought why not try to build one myself. I pretty much jumped into it flying blind with no real woodworking experience, only the bare minimum of tools and a few books to guide me. The books were actually a lot of help. I initially learned the most from Melvyn Hiscok’s book Make Your Own Electric Guitar (I’d recommend it to anyone starting out). I won’t say my first build was a complete success, the design I created was probably a bit more complicated than my skill set and lack of tools could handle. One of my favorite sayings is I’ve never failed at anything but I have learned many ways to do things wrong and this saying definitely applied. In the end, the guitar didn’t look the best but it actually played really well. So I knew I could make a good playing guitar I just had to get better at woodworking. Learning from my mistakes I went at my second build which came out much better. From there I built up my workshop, improved my skills and with each new build pushed myself to do better and tackle more difficult projects.

One thing I’ve definitely learned over the years is how to fix and/or cover up mistakes, or better yet pull of the oh yeah I totally meant to do that. No I didn’t accidentally gouge that chunk of wood with the router, that was part of the design all along LOL!!!

I guess I’ve been averaging 2-3 guitars a year. Most of what I’ve done have been scratch builds but I won’t pass up a good restoration project either. Finding a beat to hell guitar on the bay and bringing it back to life is great too. I’ve built a few for friends just having them pay for parts but I’ve never sold anything. A lot of people have said I should do custom builds and sell them but it’s not something I want to do. This is my hobby and I enjoy it. Having to cater to others and all the things that can go wrong would make it into a job and most likely kill my passion for it; I don’t want that. So I’ll just keep on building as time allows and filling the house with even more guitars I don’t have space for.
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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-11-2015, 01:50 PM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Athens, Greece
Posts: 983
Re: Who here builds guitars? What's your story?

Hey, lets see some of your work! What do you do for a living?

What I noticed with guitar work, is that it takes me into the whole DIY workmanship that also helps in works in the house. My wife is very competent at doing DIY repairs in the house, but was blown away by my knowledge on woods, metals, glues, epoxies! Most women even the most skilful ones dont know about some tricks like epoxy putty, or polymer glue which can do wonders!
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-11-2015, 04:20 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Louisiana, USA
Posts: 238
Re: Who here builds guitars? What's your story?

I work as an analyist in an environmental lab... complete opposite of anything resembling a luither

I'm in that group too... I've been able to transfer the skills I've learned DIY-ing guitars over to household projects. Knowing about woods and glues and whatnot is definately a plus to do proper fixes vs. just trying to duct tape everything together.

I couldn't find a pic of the first guitar I did but I know I have one on a hard drive somewhere. I do have others I can post tho.

These two are my 2nd & 3rd builds done in 2004. The black & red tribal looking one was my first attempt at painting.

This one was done in 2006 after after having about 6 or so builds under my belt. A modified version of an Iceman adding an upper horn.

This Firebird style one was done around 2009 or so.

The next couple were done around 2011-2012. The first one was inspired by a bat wing shaped guitar I saw online & the other is a 12 string build.

Lastly are 2 I finished over this past summer. Both have the same body shape of a modified Iceman/Fireman. Basically it's the fireman flipped back around to look like an Iceman but keeping the small horn cutout and shaped so it looks right. One's a regular 6 string and the other a short scale bass.

I'd like to think that I've shown some improvement over the years. I do know that my confidence level has grown alot doing these projects from when I first started. As you can tell I gravitate more toward natural wood or dyed wood look with an oil finish rather than paint & lacquer. I'm not a big fan of high gloss finishes mainly because fingerprints and smudges drive me nuts. They don't show up on matte oil finishes.

Recently I've been messing around with paint pens and matte poly finishes which I must say I'm having fun with. This is my current project a 97 iceman restoration. I had it almost finished but then accidentally chipped the finish and had to fix it. Now I'm just waiting for a few days for the weather to be nice so I can finish up spraying it. Stupid Louisiana weather, one place where you can experience all 4 seasons in one day... wake up with the heater on then watch the rain come down and by the end of the day it's sunny and the AC is running full blast. Anyway here's a pic of that one.

madasahatter is offline  
post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-11-2015, 05:38 PM
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Silver Spring, MD
Posts: 531
Re: Who here builds guitars? What's your story?

Good timing, I started building as a hobby pretty much exactly one year ago. My first build is documented in "setups repairs" forum with "Telebanez, my first build" thread. It has an ash telecaster body shape and a 10"-14" compound radius one piece maple neck, with JS electronics (coil split, high pass filter to be exact).

What's funny is, to that date I had not even replaced a pickup on my guitars, and took on that project to build the body, neck and the compound radius fretboard. What turned me to building is equally funny, I was looking for info on setting up my BestBuy clearance telecaster and somehow stumbled on a builders' forum and I thought "crazies! They're building their own guitars out of lumber! Wonder if I can do it too?" Fast forward 6 months and I'm gluing up an ash body blank.

Right now I have four concurrent builds on hold. Two ibanez JS clones, one maple capped mahogany Floyd rose equipped telecaster, and one mahogany/maple semi-hollow, floyd rose equipped, 24.75" scale telecaster as well. As my workshop is an unconditioned garage, I had to put the builds on hold once it got below 40F. Now that a resemblance of decent weather is blinking on the northeast, I'm itching to get back on building.
kissTheApex is offline  
post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 03-12-2015, 01:05 AM
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Athens, Greece
Posts: 983
Re: Who here builds guitars? What's your story?

Madasahater i remember your work on the jungle graphic iceman. Superb!
Als this purple RG with the green pups and green tree of life is way too beautiful!
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