HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
How to build a guitar. So you want to build your own guitar? Well this is something that really interests me as as guitar enthusiast. Why buy when I can build one just the way I want it. This is a step by step post that will show you how to build your own guitar. This is not for everyone but for those with a little know how with tools or maybe someone who wants to start a new hobby. This could also be a great source of income for someone who wants to get an extra income.
Building a guitar is a very complex and difficult process especially if you doing it for the first time. However you do not have to be a master wood worker or have years of experience to be able to do this. You will have to be able to work with different types of wood. You must also be very comfortable with power tools or hand tools.
If this is the first time you have taken on any wood project do not be frightened as the willingness to take a risk is the first step to becoming great at something. If you are diligent and are someone who is careful you could easily pull this one off.
HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST:
Your very first guitar will cost you about $2000 to make. It will cost this much because you will need to purchase all the tools needed. After the first one is done you can make one for about $800. I could probably made for even cheaper but it won’t be good quality.
THE GUITAR PLAN BUILD BLUEPRINT – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
Before you start your acoustic guitar build you will need a blueprint. The blueprint will have all your design layouts, sizes and more. The best is to make about six copies of these so you can use the actual blueprints to be able to cut out on the wood. You will also use them to trace out on the wood so that each cut is accurate.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS YOU WILL NEED:
- Particle Board
- Belt Sander
- Flush trim bit
- Router table
- East Indian Rose Wood
- Aluminium Sheets
- Silicon Heating Pad
- Laser Thermometer
- Mahogany Board
- Truss Rod
- Rat tail file
- Half round rasp
- Shinto Rasp
- Ziricote veneer
- Spruce board
- Aqua Coat
- True Oil
STEP 1 MAKING THE BENDING JIGS – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
So for this first step you will need to take the blueprint. For this sections you will need to cut the guitar shape in half.
Use some adhesive spray to stick it on some particle board. The take the board and cut the guitar shape out with your bandsaw. Then take the cut out piece of wood and clean the cut with a belt sander. Now you need to duplicate this shape nine times. This is easy as you will trace the existing board on another particle board and the cut out that shape again nice times.
Now does this nine times until you have nine pieces that are the exact same size and shape. Okay now for the fun part, you will now need to glue all nine pieces of wood together. But before you do this you will need to cut about half an inch out on every second board. This helps so that it does not get too hot.
After the wood dries you will have a big chunk of guitar shape wooden piece.
So after you have made the above guitar jig you will need to then make the other one. So now you will take the left over piece of blueprint that was left over and and glue it onto another particle board. This time you must cut on the outside line of the guitar shape.
So now measure six inches above from where you cut on either side then cut a notch at the top and bottom and cut where you measured the six inches. Cut about four or five inches from the cut you did previously. Now duplicate this six more times by taking the piece of wood and tracing it again onto another particle board. The screw the cut out piece of board and trim it so it is exactly the same size with the router table.
When you have your six pieces you will glue two sets of three together. Do this also with the other three pieces.
Now clamp them together symmetrically like in the picture above. Drill a hole into the bottom of each section and bolt these two pieces together. Do the same on the other side.
Last thing you are going to do is make a some spreaders.
The spreader will be the same as in the picture above. You will need to shape is piece of wood so that it is in the same shape as the jig. And then you will use the turn buckle inside of them to push them against the mould.
So these are the two jigs you will need to make a guitar. The great thing is that you only need to make these once and you can use them on any future builds. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
STEP 2 BENDING THE SIDES OF THE GUITAR
This part of making your guitar should be one of the more enjoyable parts. There are a lot of factors that will go into this part so you will need to take your time and make sure everything is set up properly. If this is your first build I would recommend that you use East Indian Rose wood for your back and sides. This sort of wood looks and sounds great. It is also very easy to bend when making.
The boards will need to be 0.086 inches thick. If you cannot get it this thickness you can take them to a wood place that can sand then down for you.
See above picture, you will need to make two of those. This should be simple. Cut two pieces of wood and add the connectors up to the jig on both on opposite sides.
MAKE THESE PIECES – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
You will also need to make another two pieces of wood cuts like in the picture below. The one will be clamped down in the middle and the other piece will be used to push down the ends of the side of the guitar.
So now we take a spray bottle and spray one side strip with water like in the picture below:
Now wait another five minutes and then wrap it in contractors paper and then tinfoil on top.
TIME TO CUT ALUMINIUM – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
The get yourself a piece of aluminium sheet, cut out two pieces out of this sheet like in the below picture and make sure it is the same as the side of the guitar.
After you have cut the aluminium sheets like above you will need to get a silicon heating pad that you will put in between these two sheets. The silicon heating pad will heat the whole thing up to about 300 degree fahrenheit. The heating combined with the water will make the wood flexible enough to bend to shape. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
PUT IT TOGETHER
So now you will need to take one aluminium sheet down and put the wood board on top of that. Next you will take the silicon heating pad and place that one top of the wood. Next you will take the other aluminium sheet and place it on top of the silicon pad. You will then need to clamp down the ends of the sheets so it closes everything together like in picture below:
After you have clamped both sides you will need to plug the silicon heater in and wait for about eight minutes. The next tool you will need to get out is the laser thermometer, this will be used to measure the heat. Once the contraption has reached 300 degrees fahrenheit you can start bending it. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
BENDING THE SIDE
Match your piece up to the middle of the jig and slowly start pressing it down. Slowly press about a half inch at a time and then wait a couple of seconds to let the wood settle and adjust. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
GET YOUR CLAMPS
Now you will need to clamp the wood piece down like in the picture below:
After you have clamped the middle you will then need to push down the other sides. Once you get it all the way you will need to hook it with the butterfly nut as in picture below. Also do this with the other side. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
Unplug the silicon pad and leave that for a few days. Now do the same for the other side of the guitar and leave for another two days. If the wood snap at any stage please don’t clamp the middle to low or too tight.
STEP 3 – ATTACHING THE SIDES
First thing you must do is make the lower bout, make sure to sand it so that it fits the guitar shaped jig 100%. Next you must make the upper bout, make sure to make it the correct size as this part connects up to the neck of the guitar.
Next you will need to take the two guitar sides and put in the guitar shaped jig and clamp them on with the spreaders. Now glue to heel block as in the picture below, make sure it is glued in the centre. Also glue the other block directly on the other side of the guitar body. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
After you have glued them you must then glue kerfing on the guitar like in the below picture.
At the bottom of the guitar you will need to glue a small piece of the side board. The reason is that you will notice a little gap.
STEP 4 – MAKE THE NECK BLANK
You will need a mahogany board to make the neck piece. The size of the guitar neck piece will all depend on the blueprint you have. The first part you will need to cut off the peg head off the blueprint. Use this to cut out the same size on the board. The peg head will be at a little angle but this angle will also depend on the blueprint design. Just make sure to follow it 100%. Make sure to sand the wood down until it is nice and smooth. Also glue the field stack on the bottom of the neck. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
Make sure to cut the guitar neck flush, you will need to measure where the 14 fret is and cut it. After you have cut the guitar neck you must then drill 2 holes into the top of the neck piece. Connect up the connect piece with bolts to the body.
STEP 5 – INSTALLING THE TRUSS ROD
A truss Rod is something you will need to give the neck some strength. The strings of the guitar can stress the guitar neck out after years of use. Order yourself a truss rod of Amazon or wherever you can get one. This is a very simple process, all you will need to do is chisel a groove into the neck where the truss rod must go and then glue it in. You can also find the details of where to chisel on your neck from your blueprint. You will then glue the finger board over it. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
STEP 6 – SHAPING THE HEADSTOCK
Take the same board you used on the sides of your guitar to use for the head stock. Now size the board so that it fits the headstock and cut it out and glue it on.
Cut out the template of the headstock from your blueprint.
Now cut out the head stock again from the blueprint. Glue this paper on a piece of particle board. Cut out the headstock with your band saw from this board.
Take that piece you cut out and push it down on the headstock and cut around. This will help you get those measurements and the shape to be accurate. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
While you will have that piece on the head stock use a router table to make shape the wood so that it is the exact same size. After that take your plan out and measure the tuning machines on the headstock. Then take a drill and drill holes in where you have marked it.
STEP 7 – ATTACHING THE FRETBOARD
I personally preferred to purchase a fretboard instead of making it. You can purchase it from Amazon at a good price. The reason I prefer to purchase one is that the fretboard is actually very difficult to make and the ones your purchase will just look and feel tons better. Make sure you purchase the same size fretboard as the blueprint you have. There are a few fretboards you can choose from on Amazon.
Put the purchased fretboard on the neck and glue it down carefully with wood glue. Make sure not to spill any glue on the neck or anywhere else. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
STEP 8 – CARVING THE NECK
Neck carving is a very easy process. First you will need to cut the heel on the neck to the specified size and shape -this you can also get from your blueprint.
Make sure to shape the heel cap as per your blueprint design – each design will be different that is why I am not giving specific instructions.
Now cut your neck width to the width of your blueprint and then we will begin with the carving.
WHAT TOOLS WILL YOU NEED TO CARVE – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
The shinto rasp works really well in carving and will take a lot of wood of when carving with it. Secure your neck before starting to carve it.
Now carve the rest of your neck as to the specified blueprint you got.
From here you must use not so rough carving tools and sand paper. Sand it down until it is very smooth using finer grits of sand paper as you go along until you have sanded it down to a 220 grit. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
STEP 9 – CUTTING THE BACK
For the back you will need to purchase a Ziricote veneer board and for the soundboard you will need a Spruce board. Next step you will need to do is cut the back and sound board to the exact same size. Make sure to take the cut out boards to a sander or wood supplier to sand it down to a tenth of an inch thick. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
STEP 10 – INSTALLING A SHELL ROSETTE
A rosette is the decorative circle the goes around a sound hole.
This is a very easy process, just purchase on of these from Amazon and glue it on – all done 🙂
STEP 11 – BACK BRACING
All acoustic guitar have bracing on the back board of the guitar. All blueprints will have all the design guide lines for the different bracing lengths. Cut them all out and glue them on. For the best result use spruce wood as it just works and sounds better. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
STEP 12 – SOUNDBOARD BRACING
Cut out your pieces using your blueprint plan – make sure to cut the sizes 100% correct. Now glue the pieces on the soundboard.
See below video on more details with regards to adding bracing to a soundboard. Some people spend lots of time trying to perfect this and there are a lot of videos on Youtube that can give you more info.
STEP 13 – CLOSING THE BOX
The first thing you will do is fit the back, the process is pretty easy as you will just need to glue it on. You can also cut little grooves where the bracing is onto the sides. Make sure they are the exact same size. Glue the bottom and leave it overnight to set. Do the same for the front. Cut off any extra wood that it sticking out. Use your router table to get all the edges 100% smooth. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
STEP 14 – ATTACHING THE NECK
Very first thing you will need to do is chisel the heel so that is fits nicely to the body of the guitar.
After that fit that neck on, don’t glue it on as it would be better to screw in on. The reason for that is so that if you need to adjust it in the future you can just unscrew it. You must glue the fretboard on the body though as that is easy to take off.
Mark on the body in the centre where the bridge is going to sit, align it up that it is inline with the neck. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
STEP 15 – ATTACHING THE BRIDGE
For the bridge get yourself a piece of East Indian Rose Wood. The thickness will depend on your design blueprint. Get all the measurements from your plans and draw them onto the wood and cut it out. Clean up all the edges so they nice and smooth.
The centre should stay full thickness and the sides should be chiselled down to and eighth of an inch.
Sand the whole bridge down to 220 grit before gluing it down. Use your blueprint to determine where to glue in on. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
STEP 16 – APPLYING A TRU-OIL FINISH
Before you go ahead make sure you whole work station is dust free. Purchase some Aqua Coat and True Oil to complete the finish properly. Hang your guitar up somehow to apply the finish. Tape up the fretboard and bridge so that nothing gets on to it.
Apply the Aqua Coat to fill up the pores of the wood. Put the Aqua Coat on a towel and apply it all over the guitar. After you have done that sand it down slightly and clean it again. Add 15 coats of Aqua Coat, each coat will take 3 hours to dry, this process can take a few days to complete. Use a cotton pad to apply it on the guitar. After each coat wipe it down with some steel wool and do it again until done. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
STEP 17 – TAKE THE GUITAR TO A GUITAR STORE
So as you have noticed we have not added the strings and the tuning machines. Because this is a very complex thing to do I prefer to have a professional finish it off. Because if you try do it you can possible make a small error that makes the whole guitar sound bad. – HOW TO BUILD A GUITAR
As you can see to build your own guitar is a very complex but doable task. I recommend that you try it and see how it goes. If you managed to make a guitar with the help of this article please leave a comment below and let me know how it went. Please also have a look around our website as we have tons of cool articles like Strumming Guitar Patterns.