This begins a long time dream project: To build a guitar from the ground up. I decided that the only way to start it was to start it. I don’t have all the parts yet but I will be researching and acquiring parts and any missing tools along the way. This is going to be an exciting project and my goal is to finish this by the end of the summer and take it to the recording studio!
I have been reading Martin Oakham’s Build Your Own Electric Guitar book for the past several years, eying the pages hungrily. Two weekends ago, I decided it was a nice day to drive to a lumber yard and begin the long awaited project at last.
I selected a nice Ash board for the main body, for it’s lightweight bright tone and to emulate more vintage style fender guitars. I also selected a curly maple board for the striking figure it contains, and the strength I needed in a neck. Unable to find rosewood or ebony at this lumber yard, I picked up a walnut board to use for the fretboard. I may alter this choice before completing the neck, but I wanted to give myself no excuses as to why I couldn’t go forward with the build.
Once I had the lumber, I got to work on my first templates. The book comes with a large foldout blueprint of plans for a tele/strat looking shape, which I unfolded and traced my body shape onto the acrylic. This method works well for centerlines and the general outer shape (also the bridge line). However, I will have to make careful measurements for pickup placements, bridge position, and neck pocket attachment. The next template needs more work for precice measurement. For this build, I am going to stick solely to the design proposed in the pages of the book, but unlike the kit, I am sourcing all the parts individually as I go so that I can make this high quality and custom.
The body was not wide enough with the wood balks, so I decided to add a piece of the walnut down the middle for a striped look between the bookmatched body balks. The walnut skunk stripe will also go down the center of the neck similar to the strat necks. This isn’t final but this is what I am thinking to do. Part of me thinks I could even stain the body of the guitar a dark color and have a curly maple fretboard for a radically different look.
As a note, I have a lot of extra Curly maple. I am probably going to make another body piece out of one of the boards in two or three pieces. This may have a different body shape but I haven’t decided that factor yet.
This is my progress so far. I need to get some use of a jointer or make a better more carefully aligned and clamped setup with a router/router table to join up the body balks for glueing. Once I do this, I will need to get a few more long clamps to glue them all up. Plane them down to final thickness, and jig or band saw the pieces out. Then I will rout along the template to give the final general shape and i shall have to create duplicate templates to avoid accidentally damaging the master template.
I’ve been following the videos from Fletcher Guitars on how he has built his handcrafted stratocaster style guitar. He has a lot of good advice and hours of material and is very thorough. I have gained a lot of practical insight to supplement the book from his videos and I wanted to give a shout out: right on, mate, you’ve got great videos. I’ve embedded the playlist here but the channel is certainly worth watching, even if you don’t plan on building a guitar but are just curious about how it’s done.
I imagine this guitar build will take me all summer to finish but I am taking my time and not going to rush this. This will also help spread out the cost and help me afford to invest in the best hardware for the goals I have performance-wise for the guitar.
That’s all for now, but I am thrilled to be started on this long term project which I have been yearning to do for way too many years. I appreciate any advice, encouragement, comments, and general chatter about this project.
Until next time,