Is It Worth It To Build Your Own Guitar?

Is It Worth It To Build Your Own Guitar? | integraudio.com

They say that “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,” and that’s certainly true when it comes to aesthetics. What I hope to determine today is whether or not it’s worth your time to construct your own guitar. In addition, I will outline the benefits and drawbacks of constructing your own guitar.

Prices for guitars range from $150 for entry-level models to several thousand dollars for instruments made by bespoke shops and much more by boutique Luthiers. A growing number of people are opting to construct their guitars with the help of readily available guitar kits and weekend workshops. However, a few queries remain after establishing various guitar construction approaches.

The typical do-it-yourself hobbyist does not have a full complement of tools in their garage or workshop, let alone the dozens needed to construct a guitar from scratch. You’ll need a few extra Lutherie-specific tools for shaping and fretting your neck and the standard woodworking tools you’d expect to spend four figures on.

In addition, you’ll need a soldering kit, not even mentioning the time spent painting and polishing, which is its topic. If conserving money on a guitar is the goal, a first-time builder must shoulder at least part of these expenses.

So, is it worth it to build your own guitar?

The conclusion is that it is beneficial to construct your own guitar. It’s just that there are a lot of factors to think about, such as whether or not you have access to the necessary tools, whether or not you want to utilize a prefabricated kit, and how much time you have to devote to the project.

Given the situation’s complexity, let’s try to parse out the circumstances under which it makes financial sense to construct one’s guitar and those under which doing so, however appealing, is not the best use of one’s time and energy.

If you share my excitement over the prospect of constructing my guitar, read on! Then stick with me, and maybe by the conclusion of this post, you’ll be halfway done with your guitar:

Source: Mi.Edu

Building a Kit Guitar

Constructing a guitar from a kit is similar to assembling one from individual pieces, with the addition of some minor adjustments that can only be made by hand.

There is a wide variety of kits available, from those that require some final work (such as fitting, gluing, and finishing) to those that are complete and only require assembly. Some kits include the body and neck, leaving you to source the rest of the parts and electronics. Many people are willing to provide you with anything you require, right down to the last screw.

  • How much money will you need to construct your own guitar?

All right, let’s get right down to business. You are probably curious about the expense of constructing your own guitar. Have a look at the table down below for some approximate prices on guitar kits.

DIY Kit Base Packages
Style
Price
Electric Solid Body Guitar Kits
Solid Body
$200.00
Bass Guitar Kit (Short Scale)
Bass Guitar
$160.00
Electric Guitar Kit
Electric Guitar EV
$190.00
Electric Guitar
Electric Lap Steel Double neck
$185.00
Electric Guitar
Single Cutaway Semi-Hollow
$195.00
Electric Guitar
Resonator
$300.00
Electric DIY Guitar Kit
Hollow Body
$270.00

Many folks who desire their own guitar find the best way to do it is by constructing one from a kit. They may say it’s not “real” guitar making or something like that. None of that matters if you’re not planning on making a living as a guitar maker. That said, things change if you desire to start from scratch.

A guitar body and neck, typically unfinished, will be included in the kit. However, the frets and truss rod will already be on the neck. Since fretting is one of the more complicated (and crucial) components of guitar manufacturing, you will have already done a lot of the carpentry and heavy lifting for you.

Pros

You need not be a full-fledged Luthier to use routers in a wood shop to construct your object of cherished possession. It would help if you had a knack for music and an appreciation for the guitar. This leaves you with nothing else to do. Within 30 days, you can construct a guitar from scratch. This will depend on your availability and skill level.

I think there is no substitute for the personal fulfillment that comes from creating your guitar. In the end, you’ll have a guitar that sounds like no other. 

Cons

Initially, success is common in most efforts. And we know that if we keep at it, we will succeed and enjoy the benefits of our efforts. However, the meat of the matter is a challenge. This is when the effort is being expended, but no results have yet been realized when you’re working hard but can’t tell if it’s paying off.

  • It’s skill-intensive
    Building a guitar calls for a wide range of abilities. You cannot complete this job in a few hours since it requires woodworking, electronics, neck setup, and configuration. You’d need to put in a lot of research time unless you came into this already knowing how to build things, wire them, and fix guitars. Advice from the pros: the devil is in the details, not the big picture.
  • Finishing
    Sanding, lacquering, and polishing the guitar body (referred to as “finishing”) is a laborious process. Sanding, spraying, blending color, and polishing are all tasks that require practice and patience. So I’m going to be brutally honest with you: the finish on your first do-it-yourself guitar will not be thick, smooth, or perfect like the ones you see on professionally made instruments.
  • Basic Hardware
    You can always count on the bare essentials when purchasing a kit online. Unfortunately, this equipment is consistently low-quality. The better hardware alternatives (I’ll focus on pickups, but this applies to everything) are necessary if you want your guitar to sound decent.
  • Wiring
    The diagrams are hard to read, and you’ll likely spend hours searching online forums for answers. “What do I connect the cable pins to for ground?” Do I connect the tone capacitor wires straight to the volume control? Or connect them with a series of jumper wires?”
    When it comes to technology, electronics are their universe. Soldering, reading wiring diagrams, and electronic understanding concepts are all skills that require practice if you are a complete beginner. 
  • It takes forever
    I looked at a finishing timetable, and it would take weeks to get to the sanding, lacquering, and polishing steps. And that presumed you had a day or two to dedicate to the project. Some days (as when spraying additional coats of lacquer) only required 15 minutes to half an hour, but if you had to travel for work or the holidays got in the way, the whole program would.

What is the difference between a Pro and a Cheap DIY Guitar Kit?

The main differentiating factors are the products and the extent to which you can customize your instrument. As I mentioned before, the lack of necessary materials in a low-quality kit might create frustration and delay the completion of your guitar. However, even the best pro kits have their drawbacks.

  • Pro DIY Guitar Kit

Every part of your guitar, down to the string, is included in this kit. The body and the neck only need your chosen finishing materials. Each neck in these sets has been individually sized to the body to ensure a comfortable and secure fit.

Features a completed body with predrilled holes, a fretted neck, and all necessary electronics and hardware. The wood is unprocessed and in its natural state, so it may need to be sanded, patched, or otherwise prepared before completion. Offered for purchase as a whole unit and also contains introductory guidelines.

  • Cheap DIY Guitar Kit

Though the costs vary widely, they are all reasonably low for DIY Guitar kits. No outrageous costs here. Several different types of kits are commercially available. Consider the wide variety of guitars available today. The Fret Wire also offers this information.

There are many different types of guitar construction, including double cutaways, single cutaways, double necks, solid bodies, semi-hollow bodies, and hollow bodies.

To add to the coolness, you are in luck if you are a beginner and a left-handed player. As a lefty, you might have observed that it’s not quite as simple to track down a guitar as it is for a righty. So you might find it useful to learn how to construct a guitar if you play left-handed.

Reconstructing or modifying an existing guitar

This way is how many pioneering constructors got their start… Restoring and modifying to the extreme a cheap, broken, and clapped-out electric guitar!

Although technically, this isn’t a “build,” it may achieve the same effect:

  • It’s costless

You can still find a fantastic guitar that works for you while potentially reducing your overall spending. For several reasons, this is an excellent first-build starting point. First, if you’re a beginner guitar builder, I highly recommend starting with a modification of an existing instrument.

  • You learn a lot

After tinkering with that first guitar, I learned a lot and gained the confidence to tackle more challenging projects. Modifying an existing guitar may not give you as much freedom as building one from the ground up, but there are many ways to personalize your instrument. A finished guitar may look and sound very different from the original.

Customizable aspects of a modified guitar:

  • Modifying the wiring and pickups.
  • Changing out knobs, tuners, or other minor components.
  • Improvements to the nut or bridge. (it may drastically change how fun the game is!)
  • A new coat of paint and a new finish on the guitar.
  • Modifying the body, headstock, or neck even slightly.

Buying a cheap used guitar is ideal because most of the groundwork has already been laid. To put it another way, the skeleton has been built for you, and you have a solid basis on which to build. This is a fantastic choice if you’re starting or have a small shop.

Last but not least, if you’re a novice constructor, this is a fantastic choice because it can serve as a source of inspiration. Taking the shortest and least complicated route to construction the first time around is preferable to avoid burnout and frustration.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make a name for yourself, but don’t try to take on more than you can handle right now.

Source: Diamond Guitars

Building A Parts Guitar

The alternative is constructing a guitar out of individual components, known as a “partscaster.” You get to customize your guitar to your tastes before putting it together. However, unlike the previous option, where you’d start with a fully functioning guitar, this one has you starting with a pile of existing components.

When you’re done with the guitar, it looks like a Frankenstein creation. Pieces from here for the body, the neck, and elsewhere for the electronics and the hardware. Put the pieces together, and you’re good to go.

Numerous high-quality and even illustrious guitars have been created in this fashion. Eddie Van Halen used this method to construct his famous striped “Frankenstrat” guitar in the late ’70s. One of the most iconic guitars in rock music’s history started as a cheap Charvel body and neck, a Gibson humbucker pickup, a Fender bridge, and a lot of hard work.

Pros

Should you choose this path, many resources are at your disposal for locating necessary components. For example, you can use recycled materials from existing guitars or purchase brand-new components to construct your instrument.

Numerous manufacturers supply excellent quality guitar bodies and necks for bespoke builds. It’s as simple as picking out a neck and body that you like, adding in some hardware and electronics, and putting it all together.

Most of these components will be rough around the edges and must be smoothed out and polished. Nonetheless, some vendors provide whole, pre-assembled bodies, and necks.

The partscaster method will allow for slightly greater individualization than modifying an existing guitar. A partscaster is a guitar in which the player assembles the instrument from scratch rather than modifying an existing instrument to suit their needs.

Cons

One drawback is that this method isn’t as bulletproof as modifying a factory-made guitar. If you wish to utilize nonstandard parts in your construction, go ahead, but make sure they’re all compatible. Pay great attention to the specifications of all the parts you acquire, and have a firm grasp on the type of guitar you ultimately want to build.

You can save a lot of money by constructing your own guitar, but not if you wind up with a junkyard full of useless parts or a non-playable instrument.

Building a Guitar From Scratch

The last possibility is to construct a guitar from scratch. Unfortunately, that’s what most people picture when you say you’re making a guitar. You start with a bunch of raw materials (wood and parts) and build a unique, stunning instrument out of them.

Achieving this is the pinnacle of any builder’s career. Creating a one-of-a-kind guitar using only store-bought hardware and electronics. Once you’ve constructed an instrument from scratch, you can proudly call yourself a luthier.

Making an instrument from scratch allows for limitless personalization. Building anything from the ground up, you can make whatever you want without being limited by the dimensions of guitar kits or other prefabricated components. As a result, the guitar is a versatile instrument that you may use to express any emotion.

Source:guitarassembly

Starting point

You’ll have your hands full simply trying to create it, let alone designing it, at first. But on the other hand, working from predetermined blueprints frees construction workers to give their full attention to building specifications.

On the other hand, you can design the complete instrument from scratch if you want to. Moreover, you’ll be able to customize every last detail of the instrument to your liking. Everything from the overall form and scale length to the hardware, body curves, neck profile, and electronics is up for grabs. In brief, you can make the guitar as wild or calm as you wish!

Remember that there are numerous details to consider while blueprinting an instrument, and you must do enough homework to pull it off. I don’t want to discourage you, but don’t try to build the Eiffel Tower on your first try!

Tools you need

Additionally, there are a few tools that you should consider purchasing. Of course, it’s possible to construct a full guitar with only simple hand tools; I’m sure someone has. In practice, though, having a few supplementary resources at your disposal will greatly simplify matters and reduce the risk of frustration and giving up on the undertaking altogether.

Having a router for the neck pocket and electrical cavities is essential for any guitar I built from scratch. You’ll need a router that falls somewhere in the middle of the size spectrum and a few high-quality parts.

A word of advice: cheap router pieces are terrible. Whenever possible, spend your money on the highest-quality components within your budget. You receive excellent value for your money. Believe what I’m saying…

A bandsaw and drill press, in addition to the router, will be indispensable tools. Of course, they aren’t required, but they will save you a ton of time.

Investments

The time and resources needed to construct a guitar from scratch are substantial compared to the alternatives presented. Depending on the project’s complexity, constructing a modified guitar, parts guitar, or guitar from a kit might take a few weeks of evenings and weekends. On the other hand, depending on how often you work on it, constructing a guitar from scratch can take many weeks or even months.

Conclusion

Regardless of your chosen strategy, I want to ensure you have the right expectations. No matter what approach you take, building a guitar may be tricky. Before starting construction, it’s crucial to lay everything out as well as possible. This way, you will know exactly what it was for when the project is over. There is a direct correlation between time and money saved by careful planning.

Keep in mind that the results of an endeavor like this will directly correlate to the effort you put into it. So put in the time and effort to do everything right. The finer points are what separate a good construction from a great one. The answer to the question “Is this good enough?” is “probably not,” therefore don’t bother asking it. But, on the other hand, keep at it if you want to improve it.

Again, it would help if you didn’t give up on your guitar-building dreams. This is a fantastic endeavor that will yield excellent results. However, remember that it may be a lengthy endeavor that requires some time and effort on your part.

If you’re thinking about constructing your first guitar, there’s one more item to keep in mind. Crafting your own guitars is a highly engaging hobby. You probably won’t stop at just one guitar if you create one.

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