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I built this guitar to test the viability of making a fully working instrument using almost entirely scraps from my workshop. I had a lot of fun and learned a great deal in the process! I did most of my measuring and building on the fly, so I'm going to exclude my mistakes and fill them in with what I learned. There are many variables to this build, such as the inlay, the overall shape of the body/headstock, neck thickness, and such that can be changed depending on your preference or available materials/tools.


If you want to build your own, here is what you'll need:

MATERIALS
- 3/4" Plywood: about half a sheet's worth (4'x4'). The better quality you can find, the more stable it will be and fewer voids you'll have to deal with. I used some construction grade plywood along with some really nice stuff from old cabinet doors.

- 1/8" plywood or hardboard: for the back plate of the guitar. You need only enough to cover the back of the guitar body, so about a 2.5' x 2.5' square

- Hardwood strip: For the fret board. I used some salvaged walnut, but any durable wood will suffice. The piece needs to be at least 3/16" thick, 3" wide, and 21" long

-1/8" wood: I used a piece of an old folding ruler for this, but any piece of wood will do. It has to be about 1/2" wide and 4 inches long. You will need two of these. The cooler it looks, the better

- 6 machine screws: About 1" long and 1/8" diameter, panhead type.

- Fret Wire: for making the frets.

- Misc Guitar Parts: You need the following, and I can recommend the items linked, a volume potentiometer, volume knob, input jack, 20 gauge audio wire, tuning pegs, and a nut.

- Door Hinge: I used an antique cast iron hinge, but any standard sized door hinge you can drill through will do. This will be the saddle to hold the strings.

- Plastic: I used an old vinyl record, this will be used for the bezel to surround the pickup. You can use acrylic, HDPE, or anything you want, so long as it's about 1/16" thick and you can drill through it. The record looks really cool, though.

- Copper Wire: about 30-35 gauge. I salvaged mine from one of those "wall wart" type plugs.

- 6 neodynium magnets: the strong, little silver round types

TOOLS:

- Jigsaw: Necessary for cutting out the body, headstock, and tapering the neck. You could use a coping saw, but that'd be a lot of work. Use blades designed for cutting wood cleanly.

- Router: helps with making the slots for the electronics. You can substitute a drill with a forstner bit and a chisel, it will just be more work. I used a 1/4" straight bit.

- Table Saw: Necessary if you want to make the 3d inlay part of this guitar. Otherwise you can get away with any saw capable of making reliable, straight cuts through the plywood.

-Sanders: I used an oscillating belt sander, a handheld belt sander, and a random orbital sander. You can get by using just the random orbital sander. You can also use a rasp and do some hand sanding, if you're into grueling manual labor. I used 80 grit paper on the belts for shaping and 120, 200 grit paper on the random orbit for flushing and finishing, and also used 300 grit for a hand sanded finish.

- Drill/Driver: You'll need to make some holes and put screws into them. Pick your favorite tool for doing so. You'll need bits that are sized properly for installing your tuning pegs and input jack, and a 1/8 inch bit for the pickup screws, and a small bit that matches your small screws.

- Fine Tooth Saw: For the frets. I used a gent's saw and a coping saw for this. You can use any fine tooth saw with a narrow enough kerf to properly seat your fret wire. Be wary of any saw with a flexible blade, as it will be more difficult to cut a dead straight line.

- Files: a rougher file and a fine file will be adequate for shaping the frets.

- Wood Glue: I used titebond, you can use whatever type you're comfortable with

- CA (super/Krazy) Glue: Pretty self explanatory

- Planer: For reducing the thickness of the fret board. If it's already at the desired thickness, don't sweat this one. You can also use a hand plane or, carefully, your belt sander.

- Screws: 1 inch wood or drywall screws will work to hold on the back plate. 4 smaller screws (about 1/4 inch) for securing the pickup bezel.

- Clear Coat: Lacquer, Polycrylic, shellac, whatever you have or like to use will work just fine

- Plastic Cutting Tool: For whatever you choose as your pickup bezel. I used a Dremel with a rotozip bit to cut my vinyl record, but a specialty jig saw blade will cut acrylic, scissors can work for HDPE, etc

- Hot Glue Gun + glue sticks: Necessary for the pickup

- Soldering Iron + electronics solder: For the wiring/electronics

Step 1: The Through-Neck

Picture of The Through-Neck
cut into strips.jpg
laminate strips together.jpg
clamp and leave to dry overnight.jpg

A "Through Neck" is a neck that runs entirely through the body of the guitar. It provides a stable and permanent connection to the body of the guitar, as well as a unique look. It's also simpler to pull off for a beginner/intermediate woodworker than a bolt-on type neck.

1. Cut your ply wood into 3, 1.5" wide strips, about 40" long. This will be a few inches longer than the full length of the guitar, allowing you a little bit of extra room just in case.

2. Glue the 1.5" faces of the strips together into one solid block, spread the glue evenly and clamp, as shown. You should end up with a block that is 40" long, 2.25" wide, and 1.5" thick

3. Leave until cured (overnight) and clean up and glue drips

fred18964 months ago
wow that looks so cool mate
KeithDecent (author)  fred18963 months ago
thank you!
RowanCant5 months ago
Wow! Full credit for the amount of recycling in this video!!
KeithDecent (author)  RowanCant3 months ago
thanks! it's sorta what I do, haha
JavierL904 months ago
This is awesome - the combination of your craftsmanship and ability to creatively use found materials packs a powerful punch!! Great work
Nice!
KS20044 months ago
epic
exquisitely extraordinary electrical - love it!
Cotekino5 months ago
I like so much this kind of 'low-tech' instruments... Thanks for idea and your careful description. One doubt, anyway (or maybe I missed something in the text): about the magnets, does it matter their polarity? Or was it a random positioning?
KeithDecent (author)  Cotekino5 months ago
they should all be flipped the same way, so that the same pole is touching each screw, if that clears it up for ya.

and thanks!
hmbhuss15 months ago
I love this. First cigar box guitar I made was a u-bass that was supposed to be made the way delta blues man might. (If said bluesman had silicone strings at his disposal) I was inspired by Jack White in “It Might Get Loud”
Killawhat5 months ago
Cool project, I like the spirit of the build but I was cringing at certain parts!
The thing is, you can make it a perfectly playable guitar if you changed a couple of things:
- You need to have a radius over the whole of the fretboard - 8-12" radius, not just taper it at the sides. Cut your fingerboard slots before you taper and glue it to the neck. Or, just make a cross cut jig if it's already tapered.
- And do a bit more shaping of the back of that neck.
- Laminating the direction you did and the way the plywood is laminated itself, I think it would stop it twisting but I'm sure there's going to be a significant forward bow once it's strung up. So installing the truss rod is a necessity. There's some easy to install two way truss rods these days (about $10) that you just route a channel and install. If you want to keep it recycled then thread a 1/4 steel rod. But then you'll have to make a jig that curves for your router to do the channel.
- The wire looks way too thick for a pickup wind. It works, but generally 42-44 gauge wire is used. I'd also suggest to put something like thin plastic around the screws before winding. Or you could make a bobbin out of laminating a plastic chopping board or similar. At the end, just spray it with some shellac or lacquer instead of the hot glue gun.
- Lastly, the intonation is way out on that guitar. I reckon you'd be better attaching some steel tube, notching it for the bridge. Also, angle it back a bit on the bass side which should help with intonation
The pickguard on the table saw was cool looking, but I would have routed the control channels from the top and used the left over vinyl with the label as the pickguard.
Keep it up!
ClementM325 months ago
Best thing I've seen all week
tbonebanjo5 months ago
Very cool build! It sounds pretty good for a homemade pickup. Very interested to know how the plywood neck holds up, never seen that before. Actually, Martin makes an acoustic model with a laminated neck..... I recently built a tele from a chair seat and a few parts lying around, but I bought 52 reissue pickups. The pickup wire is thin as hair on those!
zacker5 months ago
Such a cool build.. How's she play? You now need to make a video of it in use... lol great idea with the old hinge, I may make on for one of my guitars...lol It looks really cool!
KeithDecent (author)  zacker5 months ago
I play it (poorly) for a few seconds at the end of the build video linked in the introduction.
cOOL..ILL HAVE TO GO WATCH... LOL THANKS!
JackmanWorks5 months ago
Meh, that's a pretty Decent guitar.
KeithDecent (author)  JackmanWorks5 months ago
No need to be such a Jack, Man.
deluges5 months ago
Darn cool. I'm making a bass right now this is a good reminder to not get sucked in all the useless stuff everyone is trying to sell you when building an instrument.
Use what you have, your tools are fine, back to basics. Good work
Elvizzzzzzz5 months ago
Excellent. Lot's of opportunist out there selling outrageously overpriced wood blanks and I've been defending the scrap pile in my garage for far too long. Despite any errors, your instrument appears to be way above the cigar box versions. Neck and pickups are really what makes the difference anyhow. I look forward to attempts to duplicate your luthering but I will stick to wipe on wood dye and hand application of french polish with a felt pad. Pickup design is especially interesting.

Decades ago Rickenbacker made pick pickups by winding each pole piece separately. Are you familiar with this sort of blasphemy?
KeithDecent (author)  Elvizzzzzzz5 months ago
haha yeah, i've seen the pickups wound around each pole while researching and was like... "nah." There's actually quite a bit more pickup designs than I had ever realized.
randofo5 months ago
I love the look of the body and the attention to detail! Very nicely done.
KeithDecent (author)  randofo5 months ago
thank you!
KeithDecent (author)  randofo5 months ago
Thanks! Lots and lots of details in this one.
technovative5 months ago
I appreciate the spirit of this build, and the thorough documentation presented in your article and video.
KeithDecent (author)  technovative5 months ago
thanks so much! I can't stand a guide that doesn't have as much info as possible packed into it, so I always try to be very thorough.
ScottE955 months ago
Great Job Man! Awesome video explained very well and eye pleasing edits. Captivating and Repurposed with great vision.
KeithDecent (author)  ScottE955 months ago
thank you very much!
LongColt455 months ago
Excellent design and work throughout. The only suggestion I would give you is to make the bridge a ^ shape( an upside down v) it will provide more tension on the strings with less surface contact. This gives you more string resonance and allows for sharper tuning of the intonation. I really like your pickup build and the old hinge for the tail piece. FANTASTIC JOB THROUGHOUT!!
KeithDecent (author)  LongColt455 months ago
Thank you! Yeah, lots of helpful comments led me to later add a thin piece of aluminum on edge to the middle of the bridge to get better sound out of it.