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Picture of Self-amplified Guitar

Let’s build a guitar. An electric guitar would be nice, but a self-amplified guitar would be neat.

I've always wanted to have an electric guitar —though I don't quite play it—, but it's (almost) no use without a proper external amplification & speaker system, which are heavy and not travel-friendly. And I wanted my guitar to have some types of wood, some particular shape, etc.
This guitar is the solution! You charge it with a USB cable and can leave your house to go playing on the beach, on the road, in the mountain... with respect for the wildlife!

Here is a warning, however:

I will explain how I did it step by step, but be warned: I'm not a professional and this was my first wood-working project. I learned how to use most of the machines in the meantime I was working on them, and I might spread some wrong ideas about how to use them. Don't hesitate to correct me if I got wrong sometimes!

Now, the steps: I will begin with the neck, then the body, the top, the fingerboard, and finally the inside electronics. Then there will likely be a huge mess of steps for all the many things to do around.

Second warning: According to the type and size of guitar you want to make, some values or details I give here may be wrong in your case. Always check on specialized websites (such as this one) to be sure you don't make any mistake.

Let's begin now if you want to finish your guitar before lunch.

Step 1: Tools and Material

Picture of Tools and Material

There is some heavy duty wood-working coming up here, luckily I happened to have most of the tools I needed —well, at least my grand father had them, mostly.

Here is a list of the tools I used:

>> In my case, all four of them are on the same big-woodworking-machine, a Lurem C210B (see photos). Although it is not available anymore, you can find some good ones here :[...]lurem/

For the wood, there are many possibilities. Here are the ones I decided to use:

Be sure to have the same type of wood for body and neck, for a better visual.

As for the other materials and accessories, you will need:

And all the harware needed to build an electric guitar with amplification:

Always use protection. The minimum to me are glasses, face mask, and solid shoes. A noise headset is critical as well, and I am always careful not to use loose sleeves to avoid them being savagely sucked up by some fast-rotating tools.

ziggybass4 months ago
Hi and thanks for a great project idea. Im 74 now and although I have years (60) as a bass player and half that restoring and rebuilding instruments. Sadly my hands shake so much I cannot use a router. or electric tools with moving parts!
However I can glue and clamp and screw parts in place and wonder if you are able to make a parts kit up. I have a lot of new unused wiring harness and some necks. Are you willing to make up a kit for me, or us the world? Well whatever your reply, thanks for some great encouragment!
SimonAndYou (author)  ziggybass4 months ago
Hi Albie, thanks for your message. Unfortunately I don't have the combined machine anymore, nor have I space to properly work. Building a kit would take me too long. However I know that some kits are available online (on Madinter, Stewart McDonald, etc.), maybe with some of them you can manage to put the electronics inside. Anyway, sorry I can't help you, I'm sure you can manage to find a solution.
What would it take for this guitar to play backing tracks as well?
SimonAndYou (author)  magicmachinist4 months ago
Never thought of that, it could work with an additional jack input properly placed, I guess.
deluges4 months ago
Great concept, fantastic execution.
I have three questions:
How long does the battery last? How heavy is the guitar?
And more importantly: can we hear/see it in action?!
SimonAndYou (author)  deluges4 months ago
As I rarely play, the battery virtually lasts months. I have this guitar for 4 years now and I recharged it less than ten time.
Regarding the weight, it's quite heavy (never weighed it though, I should do it to know the real figure). There is a lot of plain mahogany wood in there.
And here is some action:

Thank you!
Ah mais tu es un compatriote! C'est stylé le son et l'aspect. Beau boulot.
Ci-joint un teaser d'une basse en un seul morceau de noyer qui arrivera bientôt sur les internets mondiaux ;)
SimonAndYou (author)  deluges4 months ago
Top ! En un seul morceau, et en plus du noyer, c'est du régal j'imagine. J'espère voir bientôt l'instructable qui va avec... En attendant tes autres projets sont super, bravo !
Ah merci !
Ouais jsuis tombé amoureux du bout de bois... Et j'ai la place d'en sortir une basse et une gratte alors l'instructable sortira, mais pas avant quelques mois!
Je sub au cas où tu postes d'autres choses !
doctor_g4 months ago
Amazingly ambitious, and displaying great perseverance!

A few minor things from someone who's pretty knowledgeable about luthierie:
- If you're ever going to need to disassemble a glue joint, an aliphatic resin glue like Titebond is recommended because it can be taken apart with a bit of heat. The neck-to-body joint is one example of a joint that may be taken apart to correct the angle of the neck to the body if it has moved over time.
- In the USA, F-clamps are called "bar clamps".
- A photo of a properly intonated Les Paul bridge will show none of its saddles at the end of its adjustment range. I'm sure one adjusted as your photo shows would not play in tune above the first fret. Read about setting intonation and you'll have it playing in tune all the way up the neck. EDIT: I've added a photo.
- You've explained the purpose of the truss rod, but not how to use it to set the proper amount of neck relief (bow). This is critical to playability.

This build from scratch is really an inspiration!
Les Paul bridge2.jpg
shallnot doctor_g4 months ago
In Canada F-clamps are F-clamps or bar clamps depending on the person.
You missed one point: wouldn’t a self-amplifying guitar be an acoustic guitar? This is an electric guitar with room in the body for a built-in amplifier and speaker.

Good project this, though.
doctor_g shallnot4 months ago
Calling an electric guitar with an amp in it an acoustic guitar would be confusing, because the term "acoustic guitar" is used to mean one in which the strings produce sound by making the soundboard vibrate. I didn't call it one or the other, so I'm baffled by this comment.
shallnot doctor_g4 months ago
Not so difficult a comment. An acoustic guitar “self-amplies” in that the vibrating sound-board and hollow body act as a resonance box to amplify the vibrating strings—right?
If this electric guitar didn’t have a pocket to house the amp & speaker but instead the amp & speaker were in a small box sitting on the floor next to it would you still call it “self-amplifying”? Nothing has changed but the proximity of the amp & speaker.
And I don’t believe I ever suggested calling this project an acoustic guitar.
doctor_g shallnot4 months ago
Sorry - I misinterpreted your comment "wouldn’t a self-amplifying guitar be an acoustic guitar?" as a suggestion.
I simply answered no, it wouldn't.
Amplifying means adding additional energy to make the guitar louder, beyond the potential energy the player imparts to the strings. In an acoustic guitar, the energy of the vibrating string is not amplified, but rather it's transmitted directly to the soundboard (or, in the case of a resonator guitar, to the resonator cone).
SimonAndYou (author)  doctor_g4 months ago
I never thought I will want one day to disassemble this guitar, but you're right, a proper job would have been to make the joint more carefully with that in mind.
And I should have precised something: when playing on the higher notes (lower on the neck), the guitar slightly loses its tune... I set the saddles up, but couldn't quite correct it.
This guitar is nice for a basic player, and perfect to display on a wall and play it sometimes, but sadly it would never have a perfect sound.
As for the truss rod, I prefer people to get information form professionals as it is a critical part of setting a guitar. I don't know enough about this.
Thanks a lot for your comment!
aylbegi4 months ago
I have no words for this, maybe just one: amazing. Okay another one: perfect.
Wow! It looks fabulous. I voted for you in the woodworking contest. I hope everyone else who commented also voted. You deserve it.
SimonAndYou (author)  laraine.barker4 months ago
Thanks a lot for your vote, this is my second Instructable and my second entering a contest here! Hopefully I will win some prize...
Thanks again!
I pasted the link on Facebook too. I hope that gets you at least one other vote.
JavierL904 months ago
First woodworking project?! WOW it looks incredible! So clean and carefully crafted.
SimonAndYou (author)  JavierL904 months ago
Thank you Javier!
frleonardo94 months ago
Great job on the guitar and the instructive article. Being a hobbyist luthier myself I know how difficult it can be.
SimonAndYou (author)  frleonardo94 months ago
That's a revolutionary concept! Voted for you!
Thanks a lot!
F_Ribeiro4 months ago
I am AMAZED with your work!!!
To be your first wood work, it is very impressive!
As some people already ask for, I will ask too: Video with sound please?? :)

Good work.
SimonAndYou (author)  F_Ribeiro4 months ago
nickton4 months ago
wow. Don't know how you ever made those frets perfect, or cut the string slots on your nut without specialized tools but I can't remember how I did it on my first guitar either. Also you should have a slight back angle on the neck when you install it (don't think you mentioned that)--it makes the action better under string tension among other things, but having a tune o matic bridge gives a bit of fudge factor I guess. I have only built acoustics and fender style electrics. Amazing work.

I have for some reason never seen that formula for calculating fretboard dimensions either. Where did that come from? It's been a while since I built a guitar.
SimonAndYou (author)  nickton4 months ago
I agree I could have detailed more, but as this is a 4-years-ago project, I lost some small details in my memory... And you're right, I forgot to mention the back angle on the neck, but I think it can be seen on the 3D model, and on one of the image above.
Didn't find where the formula came form yet...
EwenF2 nickton4 months ago
The distance between frets comes about because each fret raises the pitch of the string by one semitone; this is a ratio of the twelfth root of 2, or 1.059.To multiply the frequency by 1.059, you have to divide the string length by 1.059. Re-arranging the formula gives the number 17.817 to divide the distance from bridge to fret to get distance to next fret
Alex4914 months ago
Well done, lovely job. As a guitar technician, there are a few things I could comment on that aren’t quite right, but it would be nit picking and against the spirit of the build and I’m sure there are things you’d change if you built another. It’s all part of the learning process!
When you play the guitar, do you suffer from any feedback problems?
SimonAndYou (author)  Alex4914 months ago
Thanks Alex, don't hesitate to comment the mistake, it will be useful for the people who want to try this Instructable! As for me, it's always good to know how I could have been better, for the next time. But you're right, there are some things I would change if I build another one.
The guitar has huge feedback if I let the E and A bass strings ring more than 5 seconds, but it can be used to add nice effects to the playing, I guess.
Thanks for your comment
Lasternas4 months ago
Pas encore fabriquée par manque d'outils...Mais quelle superbe réalisation!!
Je tire mon chapeau à ce luthiste de génie!
Encore bravo et peut être la vidéo tant sollicitée par les admirateurs dont je fais partie!
Yves( France)
SimonAndYou (author)  Lasternas4 months ago
Merci Lasternas !
Je ne me suis pas arrêté au manque d'outils, comme tu as pu voir j'en ai fabriqué quelques uns, notamment le bloc à poncer incurvé pour la touche, et le petit adaptateur pour tracer le contour avec la défonceuse. Cela dit, je n'aurais vraiment rien pu faire sans le combiné scie-circulaire / dégauchisseuse / raboteuse / toupie. Mais peut-être que tu peux en trouver chez des potes, ou bien dans des fablabs.
En tout cas mon conseille : lance toi, et tu verras après !
Merci beaucoup et bon courage !
MichaelL6264 months ago
Yes when do we get to hear this beauty of an axe sing? YouTube video please?
SimonAndYou (author)  MichaelL6264 months ago
MichaelL6264 months ago
Simon that is probably one of the best and most stratifying instructables I've ever had the pleasure of experiencing! Damn I'm feeling envious of your granddad and all his super tools! You must be absolutely stoked with this project?! I'm blown away with the quality and standard of this project! Did you get some help? As you say this was your first woodworking project Im finding it slightly hard to believe you did this entirely on your own. Saying that though I guess 2 years is enough time to make many mistakes and botched jobs? How many ended up on the woodpile before it was properly perfected? Well done, superb effort! You must be proud? Onwards and upwards!
SimonAndYou (author)  MichaelL6264 months ago
Hi Michael, the most help I got was my grandfather's, teaching me how to use the combined circular-saw-shaper-jointer-planer. This was priceless help!
To answer the woodpile question, I messed-up big time with the first fretboard, and had to buy another piece of rosewood and do it again.

Maybe I should have precised that it was my first HUGE woodworking project.
If you read my one other Instructable for example, you may think the guitar wasn't really my first, but we are comparing 2+ years of troubles and struggles (and load of fun, of course), with one pleasant afternoon.
Of course I built small things before this guitar -though I can't find any good example right now -because I've always liked building things. But this -this was huge and the result amazed me. And it still remains huge even after 4 years now, because I haven't
build anything the size of this project afterwards. Later I tried to make a surfboard, but I moved and didn't have space and big tools anymore. I built a cajon, a wine rack into a barrel, and some other smaller projects such as furniture. But as soon as I have space again, I will get tools as well, and time to build HUGE again!
Thanks a lot for your comment!
adi_mohr4 months ago
It really looks a beautiful piece!
I would love to see how it plays as well :)
SimonAndYou (author)  adi_mohr4 months ago
You can have an idea here: !
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