An electric guitar is a relatively simple project, so you could get away with merely having access to some woodworking tools and knowledge on how to use them in guitar building. I had access to an excellent carpentry shop at my university, so instruments were not an issue. That said, I highly doubt I would’ve been able to get anywhere with standard tools you’d find outside a workshop.
Steps Of Guitar Building
Find a blueprint of an existing model: For your first guitar, you should aim for basic functionality – the instrument should stay in tune and be in tune across its entire range, should provide a decently comfortable playing form, and produce a decent sound. The third part is by far the most difficult with acoustic instruments, but with an electric guitar, it is pretty simple. A string strung on a twig over a decent pickup will sound quite lovely. This detail makes building an electric guitar a very realistic project.
As with any such project, you should figure out what the main features of your guitar should be. Do you want a neck-through-body or a bolt-on neck? Do you want a fixed bridge or a fancy Floyd system? What kind of pickup arrangement do you want? What type of scale length? Once you figure these out, you need actually to create a blueprint of the guitar and, most importantly, figure out the dimensions that affect the guitar’s sound – string positioning, where to put the frets, and where to put the pickups.
To start, I recommend finding all the critical dimensions (string lengths, pickup positions, fret positions, electronics cavity size, etc.) from an existing model. I know the Jemsite forums have blueprints of several Ibanez JEM-style models if you want a neck-through-body and Gibson scale though you’ll need to find some examples elsewhere.
The Final Steps
At this point, many people will also say to spend a long time figuring out what kind of wood you want to use for your guitar. All I can say here is if you’re making a guitar for blues, picking wood matters somewhat, but if you’re making a guitar for metal, it doesn’t. Just don’t make it out of pine or something. Pick a decently hard, dense wood, and you’ll be fine. As before, pick a guitar model you like, see what its made of, and use it. Or go with alder – its safe and not outrageously expensive.
Of course, if you want bragging rights, make it out of some endangered species of baobab or aviation titanium or a shovel.
Also, you don’t want it to dent or whatnot because that makes it uncomfortable to play. Once again, though, as a start stick with something tried and look up whatever wood you favorite guitar neck is ready.
Decide on what to buy and what to build: Now that you have a design, you know what kind of parts you need. Every single piece can be either bought or made – you could machine all the metal parts, work all the wood, and really do everything from scratch, or you can buy a ready-made body and neck and screw them together.