With prices of new guitars rising all the time, it can be difficult and expensive to grab that dream axe. However, with a bunch of DIY kits online, your new guitar is only a few nuts and bolts away. Is building a guitar hard? Let’s take a look.
Is Building a Guitar Hard? Everything You Need to Know
We’ve all been inspired by the warming story of Sir Brian May and his father’s efforts in making the legendary Red Special. How cool is that? You build a guitar that will eventually make you millions and will be used on number-one records…
It’s great having so many new guitars on the market to choose from. Although, it can get pricey. So why not make something that’s exactly what you want, and build your own?
Finding a Kit
Firstly, we need to decide on what kit is best for you. No, we’re not talking about floor toms and crash symbols. Luckily, there are plenty out there.
Each kit varies, but they all come with a bolt-on maple neck with an amaranth fretboard. Moreover, you get all of the chrome hardware, die-cast machine heads and a double-action truss rod.
Thankfully, you’re not limited to just guitars. There are various Bass guitar kits available also. Listed below are just three examples of what you can get your hands on:
- Strat Style:
- Tele Style:
- Single Cut Style:
Now, this step is optional. It all depends on if you want a natural finish, or something a bit brighter. This is where building a guitar can get a bit hard, as a good finish can make or break the overall look of your build. As well as the body, you could also paint the headstock.
A good preparation will ensure you get the best finish. Make sure that there are no cuts or blemishes in the rengas body on the guitar. Secondly, grab yourself some rubbing alcohol and a lint-free towel to give the body a good clean. Be sure to use masking tape to cover any areas you don’t want covered in paint!
I would recommend giving the body a few light coats of primer, followed by three coats of nitrocellulose paint, and then finishing with several coats of clear lacquer. This will really make it shine! You can purchase these spray cans online, or from your local DIY or auto parts store. Is building a guitar hard? So far, not so bad.
Assembling – Is Building a Guitar Hard?
After you’ve left your body to dry, you can get to work on the assembly of your build.
Most of these kits come with pre-wired electronics! Therefore, the pickups just need to be screwed in place, along with the potentiometer pots. Furthermore, the body and neck will have pre-drilled holes for the bridge, tuners, input jack etc. Making assembly a lot easier than you first thought.
The 42mm nut should slide right into place, along with the string trees and tuners on the neck. After you’ve got everything bolted and screwed in place, you will need to attach the neck to the body via the four locating bolts. Don’t worry about the neck tension, we can adjust that later.
As you can see from this Telecaster-style build, the headstock has been painted in Seafoam green. Additionally, there are some fake Fender decals. Optional of course.
Here, we can see a fully assembled body awaiting the neck. The pickguard and pickups screw in nicely to the body. In this example, there are twin-humbucking pickups that come with the kit and are pre-wired for easy assembly.
Setup and Play
Thus far, we’ve purchased, painted and assembled the guitar. Is building a guitar hard? So far it has been pretty easygoing. However, at this stage we have a body and a neck coupled together. There’s still work to be done.
Most kits will come with every cheap set of strings, therefore I’d recommend using a reputable brand’s set of strings or whatever you usually use. Our next step is to string up the guitar for the first time.
Unless you’re extremely lucky, you’ll find that the guitar is virtually unplayable in its current state. The neck tension will be all wrong and the saddles on the bridge will be at the wrong height and intonation. Unless you’re a pro luthier or have plenty of experience, it could be best to take this build to your local guitar shop.
Even though you’ve completed your build, there’s still a lot that you can do! The list of modifications is virtually endless, and could totally transform your new DIY build.
Luckily for us, the retail on one of these kits is fairly low. Unfortunately, this can be reflected in the overall quality of materials. So why not upgrade a few parts? Having saved money on the overall build, there will be some cash left over for some shiny new parts.
What mods are effective? Tonally, a hot set of pickups could brighten up the sound that your guitar makes. Furthermore, a high-quality set of tuners will help with tunability. There’s lots you can do, but pickups and tuners are a great starting point for changing things up.
Is Building a Guitar Hard? Conclusions
So, what have we established from this guide? Well, home-build guitar kits are cheaper than off-the-shelf alternatives. Similarly, they allow for a huge degree of personalisation and will really feel special to play. Don’t get me wrong, a Custom Shop Stratocaster is untouchably cool, and expensive. But could a DIY kit be the next best thing?