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Old 06-03-2014, 06:51 PM   #1
maddog61
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New vs. Handmade

So, I was looking for a new guitar the other day, when it occurred to me "why don't I just make one?" The only problem is that I've never made one before. So, my primary question is this: on average, how much would a good quality guitar cost, for the pieces and everything? Also, are there any special skills required beyond woodworking and electrical skills? If so, what are they?
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Old 06-03-2014, 06:56 PM   #2
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Well, since my finish carpentry skills suck I would just buy one. Hats off to the fearless muthers who can shape wood and make it turn out cool.
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Old 06-03-2014, 06:59 PM   #3
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I'm not necessarily going to carve the wood myself. Most likely, I'd buy a pre-figured body and neck, then add on pickups, knobs, etc.
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:04 PM   #4
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You can find kits of varying degrees of quality for $100 to $200 US. These prices are average. There are places that sell top quality body/neck kits for much more, too. You can usually find a decent quality kit right around the $200 mark, though.
I just bought a body from Guitarfetish.com, Mahogany SG style already finished in black for under $100. The necks are sold out right now, so I have to wait. They also have complete kits.
Definetly get some different pickups if you go that route, though. Most of the guts that come with the kits are only "good enough".
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:08 PM   #5
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Oh, a partscaster. You can end up with a nice player that suits you well but rarely will you save much money. Quality guitars are dirt cheap these days.
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:30 PM   #6
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Building is INSANELY fun! Go with a kit, or hit up music stores buying loose parts, it's a great learning experience.
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Old 06-05-2014, 11:37 AM   #7
CorduroyEW
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Building from scratch is significantly more expensive than buying a mid priced guitar and upgrading. Building from a kit and upgrading the poor quality kit parts is about the same price as getting a mid priced guitar and upgrading. Don't build your own guitar if you want to save money because it won't be cheaper.

If you want to build a guitar because you want to know what it's like to build a guitar then build the guitar. It's fun and it teaches you to setup and maintain your instrument.
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Old 06-05-2014, 03:41 PM   #8
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Nice idea, but if you never tried to make something, I'd never believe you can make a guitar. Moreover if you think you can build one, your first work never will be enough quality to playing it. For example my first handmade guitar I made recently and it was very ugly. But next year I made this one and now use it as my main guitar. You can hear it here: also in other vids on my channel.

If you sure you want to make a guitar, I advise begin with the cheapest wood and furniture. Better if you'll make a guitar with simple shape (Randy Roads, Tele). For my first guitar I used RR shape and birch for thru neck and pine for the body.

I just wrote how I began my own way, you should be able to do it
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Old 06-06-2014, 01:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddog61
So, I was looking for a new guitar the other day, when it occurred to me "why don't I just make one?" The only problem is that I've never made one before. So, my primary question is this: on average, how much would a good quality guitar cost, for the pieces and everything? Also, are there any special skills required beyond woodworking and electrical skills? If so, what are they?


Most guitar players are a bit annoyed to find out that building a guitar is a decidedly low-tech enterprise. Aside from the people who load and maintain the CNC machines, most of the people involved in building guitars are task-oriented and not well paid. No Looothiers involved.

A guitar with the same basic specs as a Gibson Les Paul, for example, can be had for $225 and less, and it can be excellent quality (depending on your definition, of course). That means that the materials, purchased wholesale in bulk, can build guitars, produced in large quantities, and the result done and delivered to your door far cheaper than you can produce. By the time you pay full retail for bits and pieces, you've already spent nearly as much for the "kit" as you would for a decently done guitar. Your labor (much of which will evidently be "discovery") will be far and above what trained workers with specific tools will put into one of their guitars. And once done, there's every chance that the result won't really be as good as theirs.

You'll buy 16 ounces of glue to use the 3/4 ounce needed. You'll buy more paint than you need, more sheets of sandpaper and extras of everything else in case you screw up.

Wander over to the Warmoth site and see how much the individual components will cost you. Then think about how much time it will take to do it. And then think about the likelihood that you'll end up with something playable.
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Old 06-06-2014, 06:53 PM   #10
maddog61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CorduroyEW
Building from scratch is significantly more expensive than buying a mid priced guitar and upgrading. Building from a kit and upgrading the poor quality kit parts is about the same price as getting a mid priced guitar and upgrading. Don't build your own guitar if you want to save money because it won't be cheaper.

If you want to build a guitar because you want to know what it's like to build a guitar then build the guitar. It's fun and it teaches you to setup and maintain your instrument.


The thing is, I'm not really looking to save money. If it costs roughly the same amount to get a kit, build it, then upgrade the lower-quality hardware and to buy a mid-range guitar and upgrade, then I'd like to build it, mostly for the experience.
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Old 06-06-2014, 08:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddog61
The thing is, I'm not really looking to save money. If it costs roughly the same amount to get a kit, build it, then upgrade the lower-quality hardware and to buy a mid-range guitar and upgrade, then I'd like to build it, mostly for the experience.


I feel exactly the same way - you get mojo by doing it yourself. Except I have gone for upgrading cheapos rather than using a kit. If I was doing a parts guitar I would go expensive, - Warmoth timber and top quality hardware and electronics.
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Old 06-07-2014, 08:47 AM   #12
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The wood from guitar fetish is not bad. I built a strat from them. I would not go for the "light" guitars. The wood is too põrus and doesn't hold the small screws well. The neck was actually nice but the tuner holes were not drilled perfectly straight. It took some work to get the frets done correctly and shape the back off the neck but when done, it plays real nice.
Now, I upgraded to the pro pickups. Wow, for the price, I would use them over duncan or dimarz any day.
All in all, I ended up with a great playing strat with a neck shape that was closer to an Ibanez (a lot of shaping later). All for under $150.............
I would also upgrade the pots
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Old 06-07-2014, 07:01 PM   #13
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Build a guitar if you will keep it. It may be difficult to sell a guitar that you made yourself at a break even price.
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Old 06-08-2014, 07:37 AM   #14
CorduroyEW
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddog61
The thing is, I'm not really looking to save money. If it costs roughly the same amount to get a kit, build it, then upgrade the lower-quality hardware and to buy a mid-range guitar and upgrade, then I'd like to build it, mostly for the experience.


.
That is reason enough to build one and like I said before, after you build a guitar you are going to know how to set it up properly which means even your factory made guitars will play better because you will know what to do. Building is fun and most people that build 1 end up building 2 or 3 more.
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Old 06-09-2014, 04:04 AM   #15
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Absolutely agree. If you've made one then you will make more guitars. I can't stop to make guitars since I made my first and now I'm thinking about to begin my little business)
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Old 06-12-2014, 08:54 PM   #16
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I agree with the ones that say building one from scratch is more expensive but, there is nothing like showing off something that no one can just go out and buy.

These are two hollow body strat style guitars hand made from scratch.

My brother and I hand made these guitars. We own our own millworks company so we have all the equipment needed to make just about anything and one day a guy that worked for us challenged us to make one. After 6 different design variations, this is what we came up with. You can play just about any style music that you want on it. even sounds good unplugged.

A Zebrawood and a Mahogany full hollow body with our own proprietary tone ring. We can tone the body to warmer or brighter depending on the wood used. By the way, Zebrawood is an endangered species of wood so we can only use natural deadfall and it is very expensive to get a good cut that is big enough.

Body is carved to be contoured to fit you like a glove.

Full walnut 'V' neck on the Zebrawood, maple on the Mahogany. Glued and screwed to make sure there is no problems. Solid stainless medium frets. Roller nut. Fitted perfectly to the body.

Pick guard is made by us in a composite design with a full piece of aluminum used so that everything is shielded and grounded.

Pickups are SD's, Bridge = 59 Humbucker, Mid = Vintage Tele, Neck = JB Junior.

Wired with a 5 way, a push pull and a switch. You can play the JB full, split it, bring in the 59 with the JB full or split. JB and mid, JB split and mid. Mid by itself. Mid and 59. 59 by itself. All tone and on some settings, you can double tone for even more range.

Best I can say is, If you don't have a lot of experience with wood and how it tones, moves and grains react, you will have a long road ahead of you. By the way, those kits are cheap for a reason. You get what you pay for. Good luck and if you need any advise just ask. Everyone needs help from time to time.

If you want to hear how these sound, we have some short videos on our facebook page. Just go to the Radford Millworks, LLC page.
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