#1
I've been dreaming about building a guitar for a long time, but what always killed the plan were the high costs, especially for necks (no matter where I look, it's usually 160 bucks and upward).

Today I thought that through and I found that the part about building a guitar that excites me the most is mainly designing and building a body. So I thought, if I were to buy a cheap guitar (100-200 bucks), I'd save a buttload of money and get not only a neck but also the rest of the hardware, which I could keep or choose my own if I wanted. This way, I could use the neck, build my own body, and use whatever is in good working order of the rest of the guitar (knobs, bridge and tuners if they're okay) and probably get new pickups. So I'd either get a "custom" guitar for a lower price than when buying a neck and everything, or I'd pay the same price but could spend more money on things such as pickups, because I'd pay less for the neck. When picking a guitar to serve as base, I'd thus only have to care about whether the neck (tuners/birdge) are of good quality, since I'd buy the rest separately and would have to set it up by myself anyway.

So my question is: as long as my "custom" guitar has the same scale length as the original (since I want to use the original neck, which is of course fretted for a certain length), can I fuck up big time along the way? I mean, as long as I mind the scale length and work with care and precision all the time, I shouldn't face any game-breaking problems, right? Or is there anything I haven't thought of that'd pose a big obstacle?

P.S: The whole discussion is (for now) rather hypothetical, since that'd mean saving up about a year to put into practice, but I wanted to ask that question before I forget it xD
#2
So long as you get the bridge placement correct and the pickups under the strings everything else is pretty much up for grabs.

There is always room for fucking things up.

If all you want to do is build your own body then this is a reasonable plan, but I would say that if you're willing to go second hand or to the far East then there are hundreds of necks to choose from under $160. I've had a couple now from HK/China that have been absolutely fine.

Buying a kit or a cheap donor guitar is indeed an economical way of getting everything you need but if you're then going to throw 50% of it out and replace it you may as well just buy parts to start with.
#4
Quote by von Layzonfon
So long as you get the bridge placement correct and the pickups under the strings everything else is pretty much up for grabs.

There is always room for fucking things up.

If all you want to do is build your own body then this is a reasonable plan, but I would say that if you're willing to go second hand or to the far East then there are hundreds of necks to choose from under $160.  I've had a couple now from HK/China that have been absolutely fine.

Buying a kit or a cheap donor guitar is indeed an economical way of getting everything you need but if you're then going to throw 50% of it out and replace it you may as well just buy parts to start with.

I looked around further and found strat neck replacements for about 95 bucks (plus shipping). I made a spreadsheet and ended up with about 320 bucks (which is one year of pocket money and then some). I could save a couple bucks here and there (got some tuners lying around, knobs as well, perhaps I can get my hands on a humbucking pickup we still have at home that nobody uses), but it's rather pricey for someone who's still living off pocket money.

With a "donor" guitar, as you so nicely put it, I'd get neck, bridge and perhaps additional pickups and electronics for about 150 to 200, meaning if I can reuse most of that, I'd basically only have to get a body blank and pickguard material. I guess that seems the better option as long as I can get a guitar of which I can recycle most parts. Perhaps I'll go with option #1 for a second build, if I ever get to do a first at all
#5
And then there's the tools you'll need...it all adds up to not being a very cheap hobby.  But it can be a lot of fun.

Perhaps for your first project you should look for a cheap second-hand guitar that is more or less what you're after, configuration wise.  You should easily be able to find one in the $50 - $150 range. Disassemble it, make your new body and put it back together again.  That's pretty much what my first project was - I just put a cap on an old plywood junker.  It'll certainly give you a feel as to whether you want to take it further.
#6
Quote by von Layzonfon
And then there's the tools you'll need...it all adds up to not being a very cheap hobby.  But it can be a lot of fun.

Perhaps for your first project you should look for a cheap second-hand guitar that is more or less what you're after, configuration wise.  You should easily be able to find one in the $50 - $150 range. Disassemble it, make your new body and put it back together again.  That's pretty much what my first project was - I just put a cap on an old plywood junker.  It'll certainly give you a feel as to whether you want to take it further.

Tools should be manageable, we have a garage, a workbench and more boxes with tools than I can count - saws, one of those sanding machine things (no idea what they're called in english), sanding paper, files, drills, screws, clamps, more saws, one of those electric saws that saw down... everything except a router, really (which is why I decided against building a neck in the first place, which would've been cheaper but way more time-consuming than buying one).

I thought about getting a (used/china/both) strat w/o tremolo (which is basically what I want) and then designing an own body (I'm basically thinking about a single-cut strat with a lower horn like a Mustang). I could re-use knobs, neck, bridge and everything, potentially some of the pickups. I looked for woods some time ago, there are businesses who sell wood for instrument blanks. IIRC, it was something about 50$ for two pieces of maple in the size of one guitar body.
#7
There you go.  You could be up and running on your first project in less than six months.  If it goes well you can keep upgrading it.  If it goes badly you can keep taking it apart and trying again.

Don't underestimate the importance of a router for building a body.  There have been a few people around here over the years who have built without one, but I would have thought it was pretty much essential.
#8
Quote by von Layzonfon
There you go.  You could be up and running on your first project in less than six months.  If it goes well you can keep upgrading it.  If it goes badly you can keep taking it apart and trying again.

Don't underestimate the importance of a router for building a body.  There have been a few people around here over the years who have built without one, but I would have thought it was pretty much essential.

I was thinking of planning how deep I need to go, then sawing the body in half horizontally in that depth, so I could use the jigsaw to "rout" out the cavities on the upper half, and then glue on the lower half. Or perhaps I could see if I could borrow one or get one for cheap (used, perhaps).

Oh, and add one year of saving up to these six months. I'm completely broke, and saving up takes time with 25€ a month (that's 22 pounds, I think).

And apparently the tool I meant (sanding-machine-thingy) is called pad sander in English.
#9
Quote by HashtagMC
I was thinking of planning how deep I need to go, then sawing the body in half horizontally in that depth, so I could use the jigsaw to "rout" out the cavities on the upper half, and then glue on the lower half. Or perhaps I could see if I could borrow one or get one for cheap (used, perhaps).

Oh, and add one year of saving up to these six months. I'm completely broke, and saving up takes time with 25€ a month (that's 22 pounds, I think).

And apparently the tool I meant (sanding-machine-thingy) is called pad sander in English.

A router is one of those tools that you really need at some point. A cheap one will keep you going for a few years of hobby work, save you time, and give you decent results; always use the right tool for the job. If you're going to have a pickguard, you could probably get away with using a chisel, but that's still not ideal. 
#10
Quote by -MintSauce-
A router is one of those tools that you really need at some point. A cheap one will keep you going for a few years of hobby work, save you time, and give you decent results; always use the right tool for the job. If you're going to have a pickguard, you could probably get away with using a chisel, but that's still not ideal. 

I'll worry about that when I've everything else, I think. For now, I'll just keep my eyes open for used Strats, I think.
#11
Quote by HashtagMC
I'll worry about that when I've everything else, I think. For now, I'll just keep my eyes open for used Strats, I think.

Then there is the option of modding the body rather than making a new one:




This started out as a Burny TV yellow sunburst LP Jr with a stop bridge. I replaced the bridge, routed the pickup cavity to universal by hand, made a pickguard, installed new pickups and controls and painted the body flat black.
#12
Quote by Tony Done
Then there is the option of modding the body rather than making a new one:




This started out as a Burny TV yellow sunburst LP Jr with a stop bridge. I replaced the bridge, routed the pickup cavity to universal by hand, made a pickguard, installed new pickups and controls and painted the body flat black.

Modding the body only works when removing things though, not when adding. The idea I've got in my head is something like a single-cut Strat with a Mustang's lower horn /smaller cutaway than a Strat)... I imagine it'd be hard to find a body as a base for that shape.
#13
Modding a low cost guitar is a great test bench to develop your skills.  You don't have a lot invested in it so when you goof ( and you will) it's not the end of the world.

Back in the day I modded several guitars, built speaker cabs for both guitar and PA, developed early Bi-amp powered speaker cabs.  Some of my Frankenprojects turned out rather well and I gigged with them for many years.  Some were a complete waste of quality lumber or electronic components.  One of the reasons most of us want to do this is to learn a skill and also because we are cheap and want to save money.  I learned a lot about how all these things work by digging in and building but I can honestly say that few if any of us ever save money by building or modding.  We just make mistakes, choosing the wrong materials, cut it wrong, wire it wrong etc. and that creates waste.  Go into this with eyes wide open and have fun while you learn useful skills.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#15
I mod guitars very often & the biggest expense has been tools. You don't need to go through Stewmac to get em. If you don't have a home Depot or a Lowe's nearby, surely you have a hardware store. A whole lotta tools from luthier suppliers just have other names at the hardware store. & Don't plan on keeping the electronics if you're modding a cheap guitar. There's a reason they're so cheap & electronics is usually the weak link.