#1
Okay so for my Leaving Cert next year for my Construction Studies i hope to make an electric guitar, i will have more or less all power tools available as well as all hand tools,
I will have about from September to may to complete it,
Does anybody have any advice on doing this project ? or link or anything at all that will help, I have no idea what wood to use, something that is cheap but looks good when finished, considering doing a 2 coloured body and neck
I have a good understanding of how the circuit board works but im lost with where to router out ect

So yeah, all help is appreciated, as i say i dont have to start until september, but ideally i would like to get the wood before june so it can dry out over summer : )

Also i found somebody who did a project similar a few years ago
http://file043a.bebo.com/9/large/2008/05/25/22/57584105a7840340806l.jpg


Go Raibh maith agat
#2
I built a guitar for my 12 (senior) project, and i started off with no clue what i was doing.

Sooo, step 1, decide if you believe in tone wood, or not so much. (no flames please)

Step 2, choose your wood. I went with Mahogany because I stained it, and i like the figuring of the wood; not to mention it sounds darker to me, which is what i aimed for. Also, if you want a different top, a la Les Pauls. (In my build, I liked mahogany, so I didnt use a top, though i love quilted maple)

Also, are you making a set, bolt-on, or neck through guitar. People claim different things about sustain between the 3, so, make your call. (I like bot-ons, because if you ever need a new neck, its easiest to change)

As far as routing goes, and if you want a HH setup, you need 2 pup routs, a control cavity, and if your using a trem, doubley if its a floyd rose, you will need to route a home for it too.

Im not sure on prices for woods where you are, and frankly I'll wait for someone else to pitch in there thoughts, because I really only want to use basswood/mahogany in my builds (again, I likes it dark), but for a neck, you could always go with warmoth or even a mighty mite. Heck, I think carvin sells necks with paddle headstocks, so you can customize it!

Keep us posted
Gear:

Guitars:
BC Rich Warlock
Dean 88
ME682-In Progress
Amps:
Carvin SX300
Etc:
Clayton 1.0mm picks
Planet Waves cables.
#3
Quote by abyssspecter
I built a guitar for my 12 (senior) project, and i started off with no clue what i was doing.

Sooo, step 1, decide if you believe in tone wood, or not so much. (no flames please)

Step 2, choose your wood. I went with Mahogany because I stained it, and i like the figuring of the wood; not to mention it sounds darker to me, which is what i aimed for. Also, if you want a different top, a la Les Pauls. (In my build, I liked mahogany, so I didnt use a top, though i love quilted maple)

Also, are you making a set, bolt-on, or neck through guitar. People claim different things about sustain between the 3, so, make your call. (I like bot-ons, because if you ever need a new neck, its easiest to change)

As far as routing goes, and if you want a HH setup, you need 2 pup routs, a control cavity, and if your using a trem, doubley if its a floyd rose, you will need to route a home for it too.

Im not sure on prices for woods where you are, and frankly I'll wait for someone else to pitch in there thoughts, because I really only want to use basswood/mahogany in my builds (again, I likes it dark), but for a neck, you could always go with warmoth or even a mighty mite. Heck, I think carvin sells necks with paddle headstocks, so you can customize it!

Keep us posted

Thank you
Ill probabaly do a bolt on neck, im not really sure about tone wood, see the examiner wont ever play it so it just had to look good :P but i was thinking rosewood for the fingerboard.
Ill probably do HH, ill use a tuneomatic bridge and a stoptail ! Ill have to talk to the teacher but there could be good wood available from the school

Does anybody have basic plans that i could alter ?
#5
Quote by Tony Done
Sounds like a great idea to me.

What will the examiner be looking for? I think that should influence your build decisions.

These will be my heading that i will write my project on
1. Choosing the project
2. Design
3. Working Drawing
4. Body
5. Neck
6. Electronics
7. Finishing
8. Photos
9. Health and Safety
10. Experiments
11. Evaluation
12. Acknowledgements

Well they are looking for something unique, nobody ever does guitars so im good in that aspect, it has to be functionable, look good, difficulty
#6
Quote by peter3clarke
These will be my heading that i will write my project on
1. Choosing the project
2. Design
3. Working Drawing
4. Body
5. Neck
6. Electronics
7. Finishing
8. Photos
9. Health and Safety
10. Experiments
11. Evaluation
12. Acknowledgements

Well they are looking for something unique, nobody ever does guitars so im good in that aspect, it has to be functionable, look good, difficulty


You've got a big job ahead of you eh? I bit trickier than building a trinket box.

IMO, omething along the lines of a Fender design would likely be easiest - simple neck finish, painted body, pickguard. I personally would go for a Fender-type timber, like ash or alder, or basswood, or merante because it is very easy to work. Pickguards allow scope for artistry. I make them ( also lap steel fretboards) out of clear acrylic and paint them from the back, which allows all kinds of flashy design options. If you spray them with acrylic, the different colours will melt into each other, if you use spray can poly, they won't. This is a pic of a lap steel board, masked with car pinstriping and scrapbook stickers, sprayed with poly:



It might give you some ideas. The great thing about this is that if if doesn't work, you can always remove it and try again - the paint will hold better on a sanded finish. For pickguards I cover the back with double-sided adhesive tape, then ******* foil, for shielding. On the fretboards I just used masking tape as the backing.
#7
WOW that fretboard looks fantastic :O
I was considering Ash as their should be a good amount of it at school !
Are pickgaurds any good if i made them out of wood ?
Really do not like the strat headstock but im looking into an easier head to make
Thinking about a wooden finish or making FHoles and filling them with a different colour wood ?
#8
Quote by peter3clarke
WOW that fretboard looks fantastic :O
I was considering Ash as their should be a good amount of it at school !
Are pickgaurds any good if i made them out of wood ?
Really do not like the strat headstock but im looking into an easier head to make
Thinking about a wooden finish or making FHoles and filling them with a different colour wood ?


Sure you could use wood for the pickguard, and it could end up looking very nice, but I would laminate it for strength. - Something like a 3-ply fender pick guard with a fancy veneer for the top layer. F-holes is a nice idea.

Here's a suggestion, if you haven't already though of it. Do the neck first, then the neck pocket in the body. Then use the temporarily-installed neck to line up the bridge and pickup locations, by running lines from the edges of the neck.
#9
Quote by Tony Done
Sure you could use wood for the pickguard, and it could end up looking very nice, but I would laminate it for strength. - Something like a 3-ply fender pick guard with a fancy veneer for the top layer. F-holes is a nice idea.

Here's a suggestion, if you haven't already though of it. Do the neck first, then the neck pocket in the body. Then use the temporarily-installed neck to line up the bridge and pickup locations, by running lines from the edges of the neck.



Yes i think ill have to make the neck first, because if i muck up. i really don't have a second chance :P

Have to use a wooden finnish, so i plan on using, Walnut and ash/beach for the body and neck, possible if i can get another colour to put in the neck as well.

Going to make the body 1 1/2 inches, using two boards of 3/4 inch, glue them together then make laminates and cut out the body, using a side template i will make the neck with probably 5 or 7 pieces, of 3/4 inch of 5 of them and millimetre for 2 of them.

I plan on using a floating tremolo, humbucker and 2 single coils, i made a wiring diagram which i want someone to take a look at :P one tone and volume, 3 way switch,

Not sure what to use for the fretboard, considering using walnut and inlaying it with ash, not sire what design to do maybe a full neck design ? Playing about with it to be honest.

Also i was plannign on just using the cheap 5€ pickups just to show for the exam, as the examiner will just test to see if it makes a sound, if he bothers atall :P Might buy a pair of more expensive ones any recommendations ?
#10
Quote by peter3clarke
Yes i think ill have to make the neck first, because if i muck up. i really don't have a second chance :P

Have to use a wooden finnish, so i plan on using, Walnut and ash/beach for the body and neck, possible if i can get another colour to put in the neck as well.

Going to make the body 1 1/2 inches, using two boards of 3/4 inch, glue them together then make laminates and cut out the body, using a side template i will make the neck with probably 5 or 7 pieces, of 3/4 inch of 5 of them and millimetre for 2 of them.

I plan on using a floating tremolo, humbucker and 2 single coils, i made a wiring diagram which i want someone to take a look at :P one tone and volume, 3 way switch,

Not sure what to use for the fretboard, considering using walnut and inlaying it with ash, not sire what design to do maybe a full neck design ? Playing about with it to be honest.

Also i was plannign on just using the cheap 5€ pickups just to show for the exam, as the examiner will just test to see if it makes a sound, if he bothers atall :P Might buy a pair of more expensive ones any recommendations ?


This is the site I use most for wiring diagrams:

http://www.guitarelectronics.com/

Fretboard are usually made of something fairly hard like ebony or rosewood, but there are plenty of alternatives. Jarrah is cheap here in Oz and works well. This might give you some ideas:

http://www.warmoth.com/Guitar/Necks/NeckWoods.aspx

There are plenty of good expensive pickup makers, and I'm sure yo would get plenty of suggestions if you posted a query, explaining your musical interests. In the lower price ranges, Guitar Fetish have a good reputation. I have had several sets of their Retrotrons and like them a lot. However, I would avoid their very cheap ones.

http://www.guitarfetish.com/GFS-Guitar-Pickups_c_7.html


Post some progress pics when you get part way through.
#11
Quote by Tony Done
This is the site I use most for wiring diagrams:

http://www.guitarelectronics.com/

Fretboard are usually made of something fairly hard like ebony or rosewood, but there are plenty of alternatives. Jarrah is cheap here in Oz and works well. This might give you some ideas:

http://www.warmoth.com/Guitar/Necks/NeckWoods.aspx

There are plenty of good expensive pickup makers, and I'm sure yo would get plenty of suggestions if you posted a query, explaining your musical interests. In the lower price ranges, Guitar Fetish have a good reputation. I have had several sets of their Retrotrons and like them a lot. However, I would avoid their very cheap ones.

http://www.guitarfetish.com/GFS-Guitar-Pickups_c_7.html


Post some progress pics when you get part way through.

Wow, thank you so so much, this is brilliant, i wont be starting until septmeber probably, but ill have to record everything i do on a pdf so ill post the updates asap, Thanks a mill
#12
Can you build a guitar kit or restore an old guitar to pass the cert.? I mentored a kid a few years back for his senior project. He didn't have to build the neck and stuff. He restored an old archtop, installed the hardware, did the wireing and setup and that was it. He played a song with the guitar, wrote a report, and aced the project.
Maybe putting together a good guitar kit will get you the cert without building everything yourself. Building a good guitar kit is hard enough.
Are you biting off more than you need to chew by building everything from scratch?
Last edited by Guitbuilder at May 16, 2014,
#13
Quote by Guitbuilder
Can you build a guitar kit or restore an old guitar to pass the cert.? I mentored a kid a few years back for his senior project. He didn't have to build the neck and stuff. He restored an old archtop, installed the hardware, did the wireing and setup and that was it. He played a song with the guitar, wrote a report, and aced the project.
Maybe putting together a good guitar kit will get you the cert without building everything yourself. Building a good guitar kit is hard enough.
Are you biting off more than you need to chew by building everything from scratch?

To be honest it has to be all from scratch, maybe i am biting off more than i can chew, but i have the guts of 6 months, and 2-3 hours a week at it, i will have the report finished by september, see if it all goes balls up which it probably will, all i need to do is make it look good, with working electronics, so in theory if the necks wrong or the tremolo doesnt work its okay because the examiner wont get to play it, so realistically it just needs to look good for the exam, i will try to make it to the best of my abilities as regards to playability but if it turns out that it doesnt play well ill deal with that next summer, but i appreciate your concern
#14
Just throwing out ideas, if you have limited time, you could just bathtub route the body, and get a prewired pickguard that fits... Some guitar brands do that.

Or, you could make it a single pickup style, a la van halen. then you would only need 1 pickup and the control cavity, and thus cutting down the additional routing for other pickups.

just my 2 cents, though.
Gear:

Guitars:
BC Rich Warlock
Dean 88
ME682-In Progress
Amps:
Carvin SX300
Etc:
Clayton 1.0mm picks
Planet Waves cables.
#15
Quote by abyssspecter
Just throwing out ideas, if you have limited time, you could just bathtub route the body, and get a prewired pickguard that fits... Some guitar brands do that.

Or, you could make it a single pickup style, a la van halen. then you would only need 1 pickup and the control cavity, and thus cutting down the additional routing for other pickups.

just my 2 cents, though.


well how long would it really take to route out a piece of wood ? an hour or 2 ? Im making templates of of perspex for the pickups so i think ill be alright, but i appreciate the input
#16
Quote by peter3clarke
well how long would it really take to route out a piece of wood ? an hour or 2 ? Im making templates of of perspex for the pickups so i think ill be alright, but i appreciate the input


I think a bathtub (universal) rout is a good idea, as it is easier than a specific pickup rout and allows a choice of any pickup combination - I just did that conversion on one of my modding projects, using a mallet and a good sharp chisel. I don't like big noisy machines.

While we're at it, how are you going to measure your fret distances? You can buy jigs from Stewmac, but there are other ways of doing it. One I have used for lap steel fret markers is to buy a slotted but unfinished fretboard (from Stewmac) and use that as a stop gauge for marking the distances. A credit card or similar jammed in the fret slot makes a good stop.
#17
Quote by Tony Done
I think a bathtub (universal) rout is a good idea, as it is easier than a specific pickup rout and allows a choice of any pickup combination - I just did that conversion on one of my modding projects, using a mallet and a good sharp chisel. I don't like big noisy machines.

While we're at it, how are you going to measure your fret distances? You can buy jigs from Stewmac, but there are other ways of doing it. One I have used for lap steel fret markers is to buy a slotted but unfinished fretboard (from Stewmac) and use that as a stop gauge for marking the distances. A credit card or similar jammed in the fret slot makes a good stop.

Is a bathtub route just a big section taken out of the middle ?

Iwas just going to use a fret calculator, and use a square piece of wood to lie the saw against while i cut ?
#18
Quote by abyssspecter

Also, are you making a set, bolt-on, or neck through guitar. People claim different things about sustain between the 3, so, make your call. (I like bot-ons, because if you ever need a new neck, its easiest to change)

Im not sure on prices for woods where you are, and frankly I'll wait for someone else to pitch in there thoughts, because I really only want to use basswood/mahogany in my builds (again, I likes it dark), but for a neck, you could always go with warmoth or even a mighty mite. Heck, I think carvin sells necks with paddle headstocks, so you can customize it!


Carvin sells necks with paddle headstocks, both for bolt-necks and for neck-through builds. My preference is for neck-throughs (at 50 guitars plus in the stack, some dating to 1939, I've never needed a new neck), in part because it's the easiest way to get rid of the clunky neck heel you find on bolt necks and on most set-neck guitars. And in part because it's a bit more "buildy." Slapping together a bolt neck and a body (*poof!* guitar!) just seems more like assembly than "building."

I like mahogany guitars, but I *really* like koa, both for sound and for looks. Funny thing, I was once sold a neck-through guitar that has a koa body and neck and a flame maple cap a long time ago, and apologies were made. "It's a sort of cheaper mahogany substitute, but it's sort of an interesting looking wood..."

Thing is, there are some spectacular woods out there. I'd check out AC Guitars (http://www.acguitars.co.uk/acg_admin/wordpress/ in the UK for examples of amazing woods used creatively. Plain old mahogany or (ick) basswood just seems so pedestrian once you've seen what can be done with amazing woods and good design.
Last edited by dspellman at May 18, 2014,
#19
Quote by peter3clarke
Is a bathtub route just a big section taken out of the middle ?

Iwas just going to use a fret calculator, and use a square piece of wood to lie the saw against while i cut ?



I would give that a lot of thought if I were you, because even a small irregularity in the high frets will stand out to the examiner like the proverbial dog's balls. It is alos the kind of thing your eye will keep coming back to if you don't get it right. I did that on a first lap steel fretboard I did, and it looked untidy. You could compromise and make a stop gauge, then use that to measure and cut the frets if it works out well.
#20
Quote by Tony Done
I would give that a lot of thought if I were you, because even a small irregularity in the high frets will stand out to the examiner like the proverbial dog's balls. It is alos the kind of thing your eye will keep coming back to if you don't get it right. I did that on a first lap steel fretboard I did, and it looked untidy. You could compromise and make a stop gauge, then use that to measure and cut the frets if it works out well.


Oh sorry, i didnt realise you meant the depth of the frets, hmmh i never really gave it much though :/ How would i go about making a stop gauge ? i could always use a marking guage along the sides to measure the cut ? What do you think about using wood for the frets ? Stupid or worth looking into ?
#21
Quote by peter3clarke
Oh sorry, i didnt realise you meant the depth of the frets, hmmh i never really gave it much though :/ How would i go about making a stop gauge ? i could always use a marking guage along the sides to measure the cut ? What do you think about using wood for the frets ? Stupid or worth looking into ?


Heh, we've got at cross purposes. I was talkng about the distance from the low end of the fretboard to each fret, rather than the depth. If you don't want to invest in a fancy jig, you can get the distances accurately by using any old fretboard with the frets pulled (I used a new Stewmac unslotted board). And use like so:


Saw against end of gauge
:
__________________:
__________________| Stop gauge (unfretted board)
|---------------------
|--------------------- Your board
^
^Stop stuck in stop gauge fret slot.

I hope you can follow that rough diagram, it's pretty easy and hopefully foolproof.

Also, you need the correct width saw for the fret tangs - there's plenty of info on that on the Stewmac site. A baby hacksaw is a bit too narrow, and a coping saw is a bit too wide.
#22
Quote by Tony Done
Heh, we've got at cross purposes. I was talkng about the distance from the low end of the fretboard to each fret, rather than the depth. If you don't want to invest in a fancy jig, you can get the distances accurately by using any old fretboard with the frets pulled (I used a new Stewmac unslotted board). And use like so:


Saw against end of gauge
:
__________________:
__________________| Stop gauge (unfretted board)
|---------------------
|--------------------- Your board
^
^Stop stuck in stop gauge fret slot.

I hope you can follow that rough diagram, it's pretty easy and hopefully foolproof.

Also, you need the correct width saw for the fret tangs - there's plenty of info on that on the Stewmac site. A baby hacksaw is a bit too narrow, and a coping saw is a bit too wide.


The word wrap wrecked my nice diagram, so here's a pic:



It shows a Stewmac fretboard with a piece of plastic jammed in a fret slot. It is held against a piece of wood that could be your fretboard blank, and the end of the Stewmac board is used as a stop for the saw.
#23
Quote by Tony Done
The word wrap wrecked my nice diagram, so here's a pic:



It shows a Stewmac fretboard with a piece of plastic jammed in a fret slot. It is held against a piece of wood that could be your fretboard blank, and the end of the Stewmac board is used as a stop for the saw.

Im sorry i have no clue what your trying to show me, :/ Sorry, i do ppreciate the help mate
#24
Quote by peter3clarke
Im sorry i have no clue what your trying to show me, :/ Sorry, i do ppreciate the help mate


OK, I'll try and explain it better.

The upper piece of wood in the pick is a Stewmac fretboard blank preslotted fo fretting. You can use the slots to hold a piece of metal or plastic in place. Call it SB for short

Imagine that the lower piece of wood is the blank that you want to turn into a fretboard for your guitar. You sit it on the bench or in a vice.

Take the SB, stick the plastic stop in the last (highest note) fret, invert it and sit it on top of your blank with a stop jammed up against the end of your board. Clamp or hold it firmly in place. The end of the SB now acts as a marker for your highest fret position, and you can use it like a mitre block to position your saw for making the slot. It you line things up properly it will be in exactly the right location and at right angles to your blank.

Cut the slot. The unclamp the SB and move the plastic stop to the next slot down. Clamp it back on your board and cut the next slot.

Repeat the process until all the slots are cut.

Here's a couple more pics to make it clearer:




This shows it in action, the plastic stop is jammed against the plank in the vice, and the end of the SB is being used as a saw stop. You can see from the ones I've cut how neat and uniform it is.



That shows the SB flipped over so you can its fret slots and the plastic stop.

Because my piece of wood was short, I couldn't start at the highest fret as you would on a full size board.

I used a mini hacksaw for this demo, but the blade is too narrow for cutting real fret slots.

Ask again if you're still not clear about this.
#25
Ahhh excellent, thats actually brilliant :O excellent idea im so excited for the build,

Gonna be either a thunderbird, sg, or jazzmaster style body, If i go for an Sg it will be a carved top Id love your insight
Okay so how do i create the neck angle ? something like 3degrees ? can i put a wedge in the neck pocket or do i have to do something more intricate

Tony, thank you so much for your insight :O Would i be able to reference you in my Portfolio as a master luthier or something like that
#26
Quote by peter3clarke
Ahhh excellent, thats actually brilliant :O excellent idea im so excited for the build,

Gonna be either a thunderbird, sg, or jazzmaster style body, If i go for an Sg it will be a carved top Id love your insight
Okay so how do i create the neck angle ? something like 3degrees ? can i put a wedge in the neck pocket or do i have to do something more intricate

Tony, thank you so much for your insight :O Would i be able to reference you in my Portfolio as a master luthier or something like that


I'm glad you found it helpful. If you want to include me in the Acknowledgements, I regard myself as an amateur guitar mechanic, a very long way removed from luthier, let alone master.

Whatever body design you choose, make sure that the neck pocket has adequate support. The SG is very poor for this, and would be even worse with a bolt-on neck. The Jazzmaster and the Thunderbird look OK. Something with a single cutaway, like an LP Jr, has even more support.

With the neck pocket I would play safe and cut it flat, then add a wedge or shims to get it right. However, you need to think how it will look to the examiner if the shim is showing in the side of the neck pocket. - So I would make sure that the sides of the neck pocket run right to the front end of the body, so nothing of it can be seen from the side. Whatever you do inside the neck pocket will then be well-hidden from sight.
#27
Quote by Tony Done
I'm glad you found it helpful. If you want to include me in the Acknowledgements, I regard myself as an amateur guitar mechanic, a very long way removed from luthier, let alone master.

Whatever body design you choose, make sure that the neck pocket has adequate support. The SG is very poor for this, and would be even worse with a bolt-on neck. The Jazzmaster and the Thunderbird look OK. Something with a single cutaway, like an LP Jr, has even more support.

With the neck pocket I would play safe and cut it flat, then add a wedge or shims to get it right. However, you need to think how it will look to the examiner if the shim is showing in the side of the neck pocket. - So I would make sure that the sides of the neck pocket run right to the front end of the body, so nothing of it can be seen from the side. Whatever you do inside the neck pocket will then be well-hidden from sight.

My teacher is being a bit of a dose, he told me im not allowed to do a strat tele or LP i have to do something original :/ Im really think about a TBird or Explorer, would it be difficult to make a neck through guitar ?
#28
Quote by peter3clarke
My teacher is being a bit of a dose, he told me im not allowed to do a strat tele or LP i have to do something original :/ Im really think about a TBird or Explorer, would it be difficult to make a neck through guitar ?


Bummer. I can't answer your question, because it is about 15 years since I owned a neck-through - which I very much regret selling. I like the idea, but you have to get the neck and body section just right, no opportunity for fixing or mix and match later. You haven't got a neck pocket to worry about, but you have got to build the neck angle into the neck extension. I guess it's swings and roundabouts.