We all want to play the best guitars in the world, but, unfortunately, we don’t always have the money to buy them.
So, what about a homemade guitar? Is it a realistic idea, or just something the kids do? Can an average musician built a guitar at home and make it look and sound good enough? Well, that’s exactly why we decided to write this article. Get comfy and let’s learn how to make a homemade guitar! You might not believe it now, but almost every single part of the “king of instruments” can be made at home in a DIY style. Picks, stands, capos – whatever comes to mind. All you need is sleight of hands, a little bit of luck, and, of course, our guidance.
True, it’s not that easy to handle wood, fabric, or any other materials if you’re new to this. However, once you really get into it, you’ll realize that it’s not really that hard.
Besides, don’t you want to make cool, one-of-a-kind things that will impress even the most hard-boiled fans of guitars?
Now, we’re talking about serious stuff in this article, things that we can actually use in our daily practice, not just some silly guitars made of cardboard that look good but can’t really compete with the real deal. Ok, without further ado, let’s see what we can do.
You can craft the components yourself, or, if you want to make things simpler, check these kits out.
How To Make A Homemade Lap Steel Guitar – Our Guide
Ok, let’s be honest: you need to be a professional carpenter and have a whole bunch of expensive and hard-to-find components to make a “commercial” acoustic guitar. So, we’ll focus on something that we, the regular musicians, can create in our garages. It will take us no more than 1, 5/2 hours, and the end result will be quite impressive.
First of all, you’ll need a 2×4 piece of wood that will serve as the main body of the instrument. A couple of cuts here and there, and you’ll get the necessary shape. Cut it into a 32” length. Pine lumber is the best choice for this. Obviously, that’s not all. You’ll also need strings (for an EG), a pickup, a bunch of strings (6 in total), and a couple of all-thread rods.
As for the tools, a screwdriver, a regular saw, and an electric drill are all you’ll ever need.
Ok, ready to turn into a DIY pro and master this guitar homemade project?
Once the lumber is done, it will be time to cut out the headstock. Mark a spot 4” from one of the ends; next, draw a horizontal line (5/8”). Saw away the lower half. I’d highly recommend using dado blades for this part. If you’re low on that, a chisel will help you “carve it out”. Alright, now we need to drill 6 holes for our tuners. If you keep them 1 inch apart from each other, everything will be alright. The next step is a bit tricky: we’ll need to put several marks on the board, and they must be super-accurate.
Getting Up Close And Personal With Our Instrument
Turn the piece of wood over so that it’s lying on its “belly” and start putting marks from “head” to “toes”. Overall, you’ll need five marks, including the so-called string feed (1, 5”), the bridge (3”), two marks for the pickup “gap” (4, 5” and 6” respectively), and finally a 26” mark for the nut. For the strings, you’ll need 6 equal holes. You won’t need to be super-accurate with them, but I would recommend a 3/32 drill bit. Oh, and don’t forget to carve out the pickup cavity. Simply cut out the piece of wood between the marks we made moments ago. Again, if you’ve got a dado saw, it will be perfect for this task.
Alright, our homemade electric guitar is starting to look more like a proper instrument. It will resemble the real thing even more after you mark the frets. Begin at the nut mark and use a ruler and a pencil for this task. A sharpie might be the best pick for some solid fret lines. I’d highly recommend using the Stewart MacDonald calculator for the markers. It’s totally free. With it, you can be sure that you’re doing everything right. The bushings and the tuners will give our instrument the necessary “gloss”. But it’s the pickup that will turn it into a playable guitar. The process of installing may vary greatly depending on the pickup you, well, pick.
Finishing Our Grandiose Project
Basically, you’ll need to place it in the gap/cavity we just made and mount it to the main body of the guitar with a couple of good screws. In a perfect world, the pickup should be +/- ¼” away from the steel strings. To achieve that, you might need to put something under it, like maybe a piece of paperboard. Go with your gut, as they say. Ok, we’re almost done with this how to make a homemade guitar out of wood tutorial. It’s time to put the strings through. Next, take the all-thread bolts we discussed earlier and put, or, rather, wedge them into the marks we made before – 3” and 26”. Yes, they will serve both as your bridge and nut.
Finally, position the six strings evenly over the pickup we previously installed. That’s basically it. Tune the newly-made guitar and fire away! For the slide, you can use something as casual and non-musical as a beer bottle. The biggest downside of this otherwise genius instrument is that the strings tend to come out of the threads you made for them. To solve this, use regular wood screws. Position them so that the heads of the screws are right above the strings. The deeper the screws go into the wood, the better they’ll hold the strings. Don’t overdo it, though, as too much tension can result in unwanted problems.
The Pros And Cons Of Making A Homemade Guitar
I really hope that you’ll be able to nail this little project of ours, but sometimes, it takes a series of trials and errors before you get it right. I know first-hand what it means to be frustrated when something goes south. Plus, it will take a lot of your free time. Third, even though we did everything on the budget, you should remember that an intermediate-level guitar might cost you less if you buy it from the local music store. Yep, it might sound a bit weird, but it is what it is. Wood, pickups, strings, and all the other tiny things (like the saw we used), will cost you a significant amount of money, especially when you don’t know exactly what you need. Tools do tend to cost a lot.
Furthermore, not every single person out there knows how to drill, cut, measure, and do everything else in between. On the other hand, a homemade guitar means you can customize it however you want and make it unique. It’s a known fact that every single element, every part of the instrument affects the way it sounds; therefore, after you learn the ins and outs of guitar making, you’ll become a better musician. So, keep it all in mind and remember that hard work always pays off. Some hard-boiled guitar geniuses claim that you won’t be able to become one of the greats unless you make your own instrument from scratch.
Switching To Homemade Picks, Stands, and Amps
Making A Guitar Pick
I’m happy to say that it’s quite easy to make a homemade guitar pick. You can “carve it out” from pretty much any material you’ve got lying around. Obviously, it needs to be sturdy enough, but that’s probably the only requirement. Old credit cards are among the most popular “victims” for this project. Anything made of plastic will suffice. Oh, and, obviously, you’ll need a template for the future picks. There are tons of those available on the Internet. Print the one you like and use a sharp pair of scissors to cut the picks out. A sharpie might also come in handy. Remember we used one to make the steel guitar? Draw around the template with it to shape the pick. Cutting is the final step.
Some people really like to make picks from CDs. The technique is the same: you need to draw it with a sharpie, and then cut it out. However, with a CD, you’ll also need to polish the DIY pick; otherwise, it will ruin your strings because of the rough edges. You can use an old towel or a sock for that. That’s it. Many musicians really like to stylize their picks and other stuff to make them more unique and personalized. If you’ve got some ideas, go ahead and try them out. That’s just not our focus today, so, let’s just move on.
Making A Guitar Pick Necklace
Picks are great and all, but how about a homemade guitar pick necklace that you can carry around with you? It’s not really hard to make one, especially since we’ve got the picks already and know our way around cutting different shapes out. For this, you’ll need a necklace cord, and a drill. The hole should be pretty tiny and “sit” in the left corner. As for the cord, it can be of different lengths, but remember that the most common one is +/- 18 inches. Experiment with it until you find the perfect combination that works for you. This item will also be a great gift to a friend/relative who’s in love with music.
Making A Guitar Capo
See how easy it was to make a bunch of solid picks? Now it’s time to try our luck with a homemade guitar capo. It’s just as easy. Sometimes, we forget out trusty capos at home, and it is super frustrating when we find that out at the rehearsal. So, let’s learn the art of making a DIY capo.
All you’ll need for this to work is a pencil/marker (or anything sturdy enough to hold the pressure) and a rubber band. Put the pencil where you want the impromptu capo to be. Next, put the rubber around the left side of the pencil. Finally, put it around the right side. Make sure that it holds nice and steady. I hope it will help you direct your creative flow in the right direction!
Cigar Box Guitar Kit
A guitar building kit is something like a super-advanced LEGO constructor. It has all the pieces, you just need to put them together and get the final product. It`s more complicated, you`ll need a hammer, a screwdiver and a plenty of free space. Here is what you get from the kit:
- The cigar box. It will be the body of the guitar.
- The neck. A plain straight piece of wood basically, the future neck.
- The strings. It`s definitely not something you can craft yourself.
- All the small stuff. Bolts, nails, screws, etc.
The best thing about this kit is that you can purchase it like a toy for a child and then assemble it yourself. It`s a legit toy for grown-up men. Finally, it will be working better, than something you can craft yourself, as all the frets are already marked.
The kit comes with the “how-to-build” and “how-to-play” instructions, so you`ll not find yourself in a situation, where you have absolutely no clue on what to do next.
Chrome Parts for a Cigar Box Guitar
Once you`ve assembled your guitar, you feel like a superhero. After playing it for two weeks you start feeling bored though. This is where the bundle of additional parts comes in handy. There are:
- Chrome tuners. All stylish and looking brand new. They are pretty convenient in fact.
- Chrome knobs. For regulating the sound volume.
- Chrome plates and screws. For making your self-made guitar look even more majestic.
- Electric guitar strings. You are transforming a guitar into an electric guitar. You`ll definitely need them.
- Other electric stuff. Like wires, regulators and amplifiers.
There is an instruction coming with this one as well. So, again, nothing bad can happen. I`ve personally met several guys, who used this kit, they found it absolutely entertaining and great.
Finally, I should say, that all these small things look great even without the guitar, so I can only imagine, how great it all will look like together.
The electric blues box book
This is a book by Nick Bryant, a blues musician, who was playing cigar box guitar for a while. It had a huge influence on his career, so he decided to publish the compilation of recommendations and instructions. Here is a list of things you will find there:
- Assembling instruction
- History of box guitar
- Techniques compilation
- Some useful stuff
I couldn`t find a better word. There are the strings, some wooden pieces, some small guitar accessories, etc.
This is a set of things and instructions, that will be useful for anyone, who plans to make and use a cigar-box guitar. So, if you are going to be a self-made guitar enthusiast you should have one.
You can craft the components yourself, or, if you want to make things simpler, check these kits out.
Making A Guitar Stand
Yes, you can just put it on the sofa, on the chair, or anywhere else. On the other hand, if you respect your instrument, use this guide to learn how to make a homemade guitar stand. For this, you won’t need any carpeting skills or stuff like nails, screws, glue, or anything else. Just a piece of wood (it must be nice and polished, though). There are no strict requirements when it comes to the dimensions, but something that’s 20-30cm wide, 35-45 cm long, and 20-30 mm thick should be just right. So, basically, you’ll need to carve out a shape that resembles a slightly tilted letter “F” and comes with a horizontal line at the bottom.
Next, make a tiny cut on the left side, one that looks like the middle part of the “F”. The idea is to cut the piece of wood into two separate parts that look like the mirror images of each other. Then, just “string” them on one another to create a DIY stand. Might not look dashing, but it will get the job done.