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Old 10-29-2012, 04:49 AM   #1
Gatecrasher53
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Question First time guitar building advice.

Hey UG'ers

To anyone who has built a guitar before or has experience building one, I need help deciding whether it is feasible for someone with, currently, NO woodworking/electrical experience or tools to construct a working electric guitar, from scratch in a year.(Yes it's possible that I may be crazy )

To elaborate, I have a school project that I need to do, I won't bore you with the details, but basically I have to research anything that I know nothing about and do a report on it, however I also have the choice of doing something practical, like building a guitar, for example. (Yay) For obvious reasons, I would much rather learn about how to build a guitar, which is something that I have been interested in for a while. However I'm not sure whether it is even realistic to have this goal.

To anyone who has made a guitar, I was wondering, How long did it take you to make your first guitar?, what kind of experience or help did you have when you started? What problems did you run into along the way? and probably most importantly, do you think that it is possible for someone with no experience or tools to do it, without help? I also need to know what kind of equipment I would need to even think about starting this, so if you know please help lol.

Obviously I have a lot more research to do, but I though it wouldn't hurt to make a post and see what you guys think.

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help, and cheers just for reading this far

G53.
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Old 10-29-2012, 04:56 AM   #2
Wesbanez
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Yes. Spend 6 months first learning the basics of woodwork on some POS wood... do everything: cut the body, route the cavities, sand everything to finishing grade etc

I would also recommend making a neck (from scratch) with a POS piece of wood. That will teach you how to rasp and shape the contour, which if you get wrong on your nice shiny expensive neck wood, you'll really regret later.
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Old 10-29-2012, 06:44 AM   #3
Gatecrasher53
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Thanks for the reply, will definitly get some practice on cheaper wood first.

Also, wondering if you knew what kind of tools I might need that are necessary for the shapin of the wood?
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Old 10-29-2012, 06:51 AM   #4
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You will need access to the following:

Jig saw, Rasp file, Fine tooth file, Deadblow hammer, Fret saw, Miter box, Socket wrench, Tape measure, Sandpaper of varying grades, Radius sanding block, Drill, Drill bits, Clamps, Wood glue, Super glue, Screw drivers, Long straightedge, Feeler gauges, Router, Soldering iron, Electronic solder, Flux, Clean rags, Mechanical pencil, Safety goggles, Respirator mask, Hobby knife, Wire cutters and Tweezers.

That list is taken from a popular building website, and is fairly exhaustive. Id also recommend having a belt sander, digital calipers and fine tools for working with the frets (fret bender, fine files etc).
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Old 10-29-2012, 09:49 PM   #5
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Well, I'm currently working on my first guitar. So far I'm really wishing I had had some bar clamps for gluing the body together. A planer would have been great as well. I am going to be wishing I had a bandsaw, tho my jigsaw will work. I'm sure my list of tools I wish I had will expand as the project goes on.
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Old 10-30-2012, 01:01 AM   #6
W4RP1G
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My first build was actually a cookie-tin banjo. It was essentially a banjo neck run through a fancy oblong cookie tin. I learned a ton about shaping the neck, making an angled headstock, and fretting, among other things. I then got into cigar box guitar building, which is actually really fun, though also a bit novel.

I think that's not a bad approach for someone who's relatively new to wood working since those things didn't require much knowledge or experience, and they can be made for under $100.
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Old 10-30-2012, 03:04 PM   #7
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See if there's a Mentor program at your school, or a teacher that can give you hands on help.
I'd build a single pick up, bolt on neck project. This isn't a wood shop project, so it shouldn't take that many tools if you're not building the body or the neck. Don't buy expensive parts, or build a complicated guitar your first time out.
Learn how the pots work while you learn to solder. Understand wiring diagrams.
Maybe you can find a "Project Guitar" on Ebay, and bring it back to life.
Learn guitar setup, soldering, maybe guitar body painting and finishing, but don't try to build a neck without tools or help.
Do you think you will do a perfect job the first time?
Are you prone to throwing tools, quitting projects, do overs? Good luck
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:09 PM   #8
Gatecrasher53
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@Wesbanez - Thanks, do you mind sending me the link to that site just so I could check it out?

@WARP1G and Guitbuilder - So you guys reckon that starting some smaller projects first to build up my skills first would be a better way to go about it?

Again thanks for the help everyone
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:56 PM   #9
W4RP1G
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatecrasher53
@WARP1G and Guitbuilder - So you guys reckon that starting some smaller projects first to build up my skills first would be a better way to go about it?

Yes. Woodworking is like most things, you walk before you run. You could take on a larger project, but there's a good chance that it's going to be extremely frustrating, and possibly even impossible if you make a mistake that you don't know how to fix. You run the risk of not only wasting money, but also turning yourself off to woodworking.

My recommendation is to find something smaller to start with. The cookie tin banjo and cigar box guitars worked for me, but they may not work for you. Find something that you'd like to do and go from there. Another common one is building a speaker cab.

Also, some people start by building a guitar body and then using a ready-made neck. I typical don't recommend someone who wants to get into guitar building do that because learning to build a neck is extremely important, but since you have no woodworking background that may be a good way to get your feet wet.

Last edited by W4RP1G : 11-02-2012 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:03 PM   #10
seabear70
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I just finished My First rebuild on my First Guitar.

It was a POS GRX20.

I tried upgrading the pickups, pots, caps, and wiring this spring. I managed and epic fail.

I have basic woodworking and electronic experience. I can soldier reasonably well. I screwed it up the first time.

I took it to my brother the soldier king, He couldn't rescue it, so it hung on the wall in silent testimony of how I screwed up.

About a month ago i got a bug up my ass and just decided to tear it completely down and rebuild it from scratch. I decided to do it and 10 minutes later it was in pieces in ziplock bags. I sanded the body and prepped it for paint.

I looked for the equipment I would need after I started.

I hung it in the shop and I sprayed it with krylon.

And then I took it down and prayed I hadn't made the unplayable unfixable.

Last night I wired it up and plugged it in.

It sounded god awful.

I opened it up again and stared at the wiring for a good half hour.

I realized I was hungry, so I went to eat and then looked up another set of schematics.

In that set I found out what had screwed it up the first time and what was screwing it up now.

I rewired the ground and gave it one more shot.

I now have an Ibanez Geo that sports a brass tone block, a set of GFS P90's, and upgraded electronics throughout.

It rocks!

Now I told you this story so that you understand what I am about to write.

Yes, you can do it.

Yes, you will probably screw it up.

Yes, you should do it even knowing that you will screw it up, because if you fix what you screwed up you will learn enough to make the next mistake.

If you fix that one and the next and the next, you will eventually have a kick ass guitar.

But if you don't have the balls to see it through, don't waste your time.
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Old 11-03-2012, 04:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seabear70

Yes, you can do it.

Yes, you will probably screw it up.

Yes, you should do it even knowing that you will screw it up


+1
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