The guitar is a musical instrument that combines the power and sound of metal with the warmth of wood. Building a guitar from scratch can be a challenging project, but it’s also a great way to learn how to make music.
Step 1: Picking the Wood
The wood that goes into a guitar’s body is carefully selected, often based on its color and grain. Some types of wood are better for acoustic guitars, while others produce better electric tones. Then the wood is cut into smaller pieces that compose a guitar’s body, including the top, back and sides.
Once the body is made, it’s time to build the neck and fretboard. It’s a long, arduous process that requires precise measurements and a bit of elbow grease.
When choosing the right wood, it’s important to consider the type of guitar you want to make and what you intend to use it for. For example, if you’re going to use it for blues and rock, a lighter-colored wood might be best because it will have a more open tone.
Next, you’ll need to select the type of wood for the neck and fretboard. There are many different options, but some are more common than others. A good luthier will be able to help you decide which is best for your needs.
You’ll also need to choose the type of neck you want to use, which will influence how it is glued to the body. Some luthiers use a laminated neck, where the two pieces are attached through a tight joint called a compound dovetail. This method allows the neck to be thinner than traditional neck-and-body models, which are thicker and stronger.
The neck and fretboard are carved from a single piece of wood, sometimes using a machine called a router, or sometimes by hand. It’s important to make sure the slot sizes for the frets are narrow enough so that they don’t interfere with the action, or the amount of pressure a guitarist exerts on the strings to change their note.
After cutting the slots, a technician places segments of fret wire in each groove, and secures them with a hammer. It’s a labor-intensive process, but it ensures the correct spacing for each string to clear its frets when played.
Once the frets are in place, the neck and body are glued together. They’re sandwiched together with a steel truss rod, which helps counteract the stress put on the neck by tightened strings. The truss rod doesn’t show up on the finished guitar, but it does keep the neck straight and in tune.
Step 2: Drilling the Holes for the Electronics
Once you’ve got the pickups installed, it’s time to drill the holes that will hold the electronics. You’ll need a small drill bit and some basic tools, such as a screwdriver, a hex wrench and a pair of pliers.
This is a great chance to practice your soldering skills, as well. The electronics you’ve purchased should come with a wiring schematic that shows how to connect each pickup to its controls and the input for the guitar cord. If you’re new to soldering, it’s a good idea to buy a simple soldering kit.