#1
I am very interested in 'building my own guitar', mainly because I would love to have the experience, understand the guitar and how it works better, and be able to design it the way I want. However, I also want it to be of around equal quality to $600 Epiphone guitars. Is that a ridiculous expectation?

What are the best guitar building kits out there? I want to build a Les Paul style (or maybe something like an ESP Horizon body shape, either one is fine)
Last edited by Tmusician at Feb 10, 2012,
#3
I know there are bulldog les paul kits. You could always try that. They're fairly cheap and get good reviews from a lot of guys.

Of course, you will notice once you start a project guitar, that a lot of money can go into it very quickly. I think the kits are only like $300 or so, but once you throw in hardware, electronics, tuners, pickups, the materials required for finishing, etc. etc. etc. you may end up well over $1000 for the guitar.
Last edited by al112987 at Feb 9, 2012,
#5
I've never built from a kit... I've "assembled" guitars from various parts I've collected, and I have built from scratch starting with raw wood. From what I've read and heard, kits will run the gamut from pretty good to pure junk.

The better ones will be made of better grade woods cut to fit together without much additional shaping, and may have a little better grade of hardware and electronics. Few will come with hardware and electronics good enough to make a truly professional grade guitar. The most difficult part of building from a kit will be finishing... most of the rest of the work has been done for you, and assembling isn't really that hard, unless you have never soldered before.

A kit is probably a good place to start your building endeavors... you learn how all the parts fit together, what works and what doesn't, and all the pieces are already there. The other route is buying all the parts separately..... body, neck, pickups, tuners, pickguard, etc. That route may cost a bit more, but you would probably end up with better quality parts.

There are a lot of places to get the parts and materials.... some I've used are:
Stewart McDonald
Guitarfetish
EYParts
...and there are tons of parts for sale on ebay

Stewart McDonald also has a lot of specialty tools and books on guitar building.

Whatever route you choose, I think you will find that building your own guitar will be a very rewarding experience.

Good luck!
#7
Quote by Tmusician
What does where I live affect? I live in Athens, Greece


So we can link you sites/places that ship it Greece etc.
#8
Ask in Gear Building and Customizing, they'l have more detailed ansers for ya
But I know some dude(Matt something, if i remember correctly) built himself a guitar with BYO kits and even theuhg the hardware might be not super good, the wood itself is reliable. So he said, i think.
#9
Quote by TTeddybear
So we can link you sites/places that ship it Greece etc.


Oh, well no worries I think, we have APO
#10
If you want to build a guitar for fun and the learning experiance, go for it. But if you thing you're going to build a quality guitar for a lower price than buying outright, first time out, don't even try.
The learning curve, redo's, and hidden costs make building just one guitar very expensive, and if you throw tools, not very pleasing.
I started by rebuilding project Ebay guitars.My first one cost way more than it's worth. The wiring harness cost too much time and money to get right. Setup had to be learned. Better parts would have made it nicer.
Practice soldering before trying on new parts. Practice painting before spraying new parts. Read all you can on setup and guitar building. Start easy. Don't try to build a three puckup, five way switched monster if you don't know how to solder or read a wiring diagram. You probability of success goes up the simpler your goal is.
It makes more sense if you plan on building three guitars, knowing the last one will be infinatelly better than the first, which is your practice build guitar. Good luck.
#11
Quote by Guitbuilder
If you want to build a guitar for fun and the learning experiance, go for it. But if you thing you're going to build a quality guitar for a lower price than buying outright, first time out, don't even try.
The learning curve, redo's, and hidden costs make building just one guitar very expensive, and if you throw tools, not very pleasing.
I started by rebuilding project Ebay guitars.My first one cost way more than it's worth. The wiring harness cost too much time and money to get right. Setup had to be learned. Better parts would have made it nicer.
Practice soldering before trying on new parts. Practice painting before spraying new parts. Read all you can on setup and guitar building. Start easy. Don't try to build a three puckup, five way switched monster if you don't know how to solder or read a wiring diagram. You probability of success goes up the simpler your goal is.
It makes more sense if you plan on building three guitars, knowing the last one will be infinatelly better than the first, which is your practice build guitar. Good luck.


Does what you are saying apply with guitar kits as well? They seem simpler. I don't know if it's worth it if I have to try three times to get something I like, with each one costing around $300 and surely taking a lot of time.

The thread was moved thanks to a mod! I hope people still find it and post...
#12
That's the question. What are your quality standards and what do you want to get out of the guitar build. Spending big bucks on parts if you don't have the time, patients, tools, workspace, etc. to build it right dosn't add up.
If you can accept that your first and only guitar build may not play like a Gibson, but is good enough for you because you had fun learning how to build it, and you're proud of it, then your money and time's worth it. If you're going to be dissatisfied with your work before you finish, don't start.
Do you have the self disipline, drive, long term interest and willingness to learn by yourself to spend the time it takes to build to your quality requirements?
I'm just trying to make sure that you don't end up with a box of expensive guitar parts, under your bed or in the closet, that remind you of failure instead of sucess.
Ebay is full of unfinished project guitars. Each one a guitar builders dream that died.
If you're going to have fun building it, do it, if not, don't, but a single pickup guitar with a volume and tone control, output jack and ground wire, nice body, playable neck, good intonation, setup properly, etc. will be plenty to get right for a first build, and something to be proud of if you do. Good luck.
#13
I think you've had some really good advice here. I'm in the same boat. I've been playing for twenty-odd years, I know guitars intimately and I'm pretty good at wood working and not entirely useless with a soldering iron (athough it took A LOT of practise). Your skills may vary .

So, for my first project I picked up a dirt cheap but reasonable guitar with the plan of taking it apart and rebuilding it with upgrades. For the most part, I really don't fancy making a neck from scratch.

Now, my "donor" guitar was only £40 and I already own all the tools I require. BUT, I've been keeping track of what I've spent and I'm getting pretty close to the £250 mark. And I've not bought any laquer yet.

My point is, this first DIY guitar project is going to end up costng me close to £300 and I could've bought a far superior guitar for that money - even if everything goes perfectly. I have no delusions that the money I spend on this project will land me a guitar that measures up to something I could've bought for the same price. But then again, it's a training programme.

Along the way I've learned a whole lot of stuff about building a guitar, and if the end result is even half decent then it will be completely unique and it will be something that I made and can (hopefully) be proud of. And it's kind of hard to put a price on that.

By the way, I did look at a lot of kits and in the end I decided that it was more economical to find a cheap guitar and spend a few (ha!) hours reducing it to its component parts.

I'd say, if you've got the money and the motivation then go for it, but don't have too high hopes for your first attempt. Unless you're already a master craftsman and electronics whizz, of course.

Oh, and read everybody else's build threads - there's lots of different skill levels represented and you'll learn all sorts from them.
#14
Go for it! Im currently working on building a LP Jr. Doublecut from scratch and from my experience so far i would really like to have tried a kit first
#15
Hmm, lots of varying opinions. I'm definitely going to start with a guitar kit, not scratch.

I'm considering this: http://www.byoguitar.com/BVModules/ProductTemplates/VolumeDiscountLayout/Product.aspx?productid=b1d6871b-6a64-4f15-b8d2-628d96aaf292

It's not too expensive, and it seems similar to that ESP Horizon body shape that I like and linked in the OP. I already have two les paul guitars, and if I make another one it needs to be of good enough value to compete. If this first one doesn't go that well at least I'll have a nice different body shape.

Is it worth selecting any of those upgrades they give you?

Edit: And I found GuitarFetish has a very similar option: http://www.guitarfetish.com/Double-Cutaway-Set-Neck-Carved-Top-Flamed-maple-Kit-COMPLETE_p_1195.html I like the BYO inlays a lot better but this one has a place for the Tone Switch while the other one doesn't (what does the other one do?)
Last edited by Tmusician at Feb 11, 2012,
#16
If I were to buy a guitar kit, it would be from here:

http://precisionguitarkits.com/guitars/59-lp-kit/

They may be more expensive than grizzly/guitar fetish/BYOG, etc. but they are top quality. Made with genuine woods (you would be amazed what those companies are allowed to call "mahogany" and "maple") and beautifully machined. Each body and neck are paired together for a perfect fit, so there is no worrying that you will have to mess around with the pocket. They leave the hardware up to you, but I have honestly never seen a kit build thread where the person was going to be using the hardware with the kit anyway.

Definitely where I would spend my money if I wanted to do a quality kit build.
#17
Quote by rapfohl09
If I were to buy a guitar kit, it would be from here:

http://precisionguitarkits.com/guitars/59-lp-kit/

They may be more expensive than grizzly/guitar fetish/BYOG, etc. but they are top quality. Made with genuine woods (you would be amazed what those companies are allowed to call "mahogany" and "maple") and beautifully machined. Each body and neck are paired together for a perfect fit, so there is no worrying that you will have to mess around with the pocket. They leave the hardware up to you, but I have honestly never seen a kit build thread where the person was going to be using the hardware with the kit anyway.

Definitely where I would spend my money if I wanted to do a quality kit build.


Would you agree though that since this will be my first one, it's better to start with a cheaper option?
#19
I would say that if you stuff up a cheaper kit then you've not lost so much. But it seems to me that with the kits most of the work is soldering and finishing and if you mess those up they should be easier to put right than any f-ups you might make cutting wood.

Not that my opinion matters in this respect, but I liked the look of the BYOG PRS-style one the best. But then again, you're not going to have any idea of the quality of the thing until it's in your hands. Unless you ask around. But, as I think you're finding out, that doesn't always help.
#20
http://notrightinthehead.net/2010/11/03/byo-les-paul-guitar-kit-product-review/

Okay, so that seemed like a pretty good review. Basically it revealed that these kits have lots of flaws. I think I've realized that I don't actually want to have to deal with that. Understanding how a guitar is made is cool, but maybe not worth it, at least not for me right now.

From the beginning I said though that I want to be able to make my own design on the guitar and choose what pickups I get. I'm pretty certain I can change the pickups of any guitar fairly easily (with soldering), can anyone confirm?

How do I go about making my own design a reality though? Do I have to take everything off, sand down the guitar's finish a lot, then paint and buff?
#21
If you want your own body shape but are unsure about routing cavities and the neck pocket, try a pre-routed body blank. I think Warmoth has them and I'm sure a bunch of other companies. You can have a totally custom shape with little work. Check the link below.

http://www.warmoth.com/Guitar/Bodies/BodyBlank.aspx
Last edited by Hadalet at Feb 12, 2012,
#22
Quote by von Layzonfon
Not that my opinion matters in this respect, but I liked the look of the BYOG PRS-style one the best. But then again, you're not going to have any idea of the quality of the thing until it's in your hands. Unless you ask around. But, as I think you're finding out, that doesn't always help.

The new one is ugly. The older one was so much nicer.
#23
I built my own from scratch with my dad. It was fun and makes the guitars even more memorable. check out them out at cablerguitars.blogspot.com
I can help you out if you have any questions as well. But i prefer to make them from scratch.
#24
Quote by Hadalet
If you want your own body shape but are unsure about routing cavities and the neck pocket, try a pre-routed body blank. I think Warmoth has them and I'm sure a bunch of other companies. You can have a totally custom shape with little work. Check the link below.

http://www.warmoth.com/Guitar/Bodies/BodyBlank.aspx



Wow, thanks for that link, that's pretty cool. Hopefully this isn't too idiotic of a question, but how do I cut the body shape myself? What tools would I need?

I'm really interested again into making the guitar, I'm still hesitant about what kit/body to buy though. I'm thinking I'll just get the BYO 'PRS' style guitar and if there are any mistakes like that review convinced me there will be, I'll try to fix them.
#25
Quote by Tmusician
Wow, thanks for that link, that's pretty cool. Hopefully this isn't too idiotic of a question, but how do I cut the body shape myself? What tools would I need?


A band saw would be best, but a jigsaw would work too. Additionally, a spindle sander is great for smoothing the mill marks from the bandsaw and dialing the shape in. It can be done by hand though. Depending on the shape, you can use a router for the edges.
#26
Oh wow, I'm getting pretty excited about making my own guitar now. Apparently the place my dad works at has tons of tools (for woodworking as well) so I basically have any tool I could need. Still, I have no experience. My dad and maybe some people at my dad's work can help if I need it, however there's an extremely low chance they've ever worked on guitars.

What do you suggest I do? I'm thinking I'll still just do a cheap kit for my first time, then maybe I'll see that I do have the potential to make my own guitar from scratch.