Guitar Kit World is for anyone interested in making their own guitar but isn’t an expert, doesn’t have years of woodworking skills to draw on or even knows all that much about guitars. The purpose of the site is to help anyone new to the world of guitar kits get up and running quickly and put together a great looking, great sounding guitar.
Why would you make your own guitar?
For one, this is a guitar that could potentially be like no other. An electric guitar kit allows you to customize and finish your guitar in any way you like. Think about it like this, you are jamming with some friends when someone asks you “What type of guitar is that?” and you answer “actually I built it myself.” The other thing to bear in mind is this is actually a really enjoyable project to sink some time into. You will learn a lot about guitars along the way and you will have a bond with the guitar that is unmatched by any store bought guitar.
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Is It Cost Effective to Build Your Own Guitar?
If you invest in a kit guitar it’s a fairly cost effective way to own yourself a decent quality instrument, provided you put it together well. All popular shapes are generally available including Les Paul, Stratocaster, Telecaster, SG and a slew of metal guitars and more obscure shapes. A guitar kit doesn’t require much in the way of tools to assemble and you can be up and running fairly quickly depending on how you choose to finish the guitar (paint or stain the timber).
Acoustic guitar kits on the other hand do require specialized equipment and aren’t anywhere near as affordable to put together. The total cost will be up to you as most popular guitar shapes are available in a range of timbers and components. You can either choose an entry level kit with inexpensive pickups and components or you could consider something more upmarket such as a kit guitar from Carvin. You can even purchase or all parts independently and build yourself a partscaster!
No matter which way you choose to start there are plenty of great examples of entry level kit guitars which retail for around $150.00. There’s also nothing stopping you upgrading the components and pickups down the track. The table below lists some of the more popular kit guitars available from Amazon, you can also purchase independently from manufacturers directly online which we will cover in more detail.
Generally speaking the bodies are completely routed out and pickups and components are generic entry level unless otherwise mentioned, complete with strings and a lead. You might notice the ratings as some are particularly low (e.g. 2.5 stars out of five). Don’t let this mislead you completely, many people have a poor experience when putting together an electric guitar using a kit because the instructions are either very basic or don’t exist at all and most people are not aware of the basic steps required to do a decent job, especially when it comes to slightly more difficult finished such as sunburst, tobacco burst etc. If you stay tuned to this blog however we will make sure you have all the information you need to do a great job of your first guitar.
You should also remember if you decide to purchase a low cost kit on occasion there will be minor issues, (the kits themselves are made very inexpensively, often imported from China where production costs are lower) which is why we always recommend a dry assembly first to discover any problems early on. Most problems you might discover e.g. dings, scratches, alignment issues can be fixed fairly easily.
A Quick word On Timbers
How important is the timber your guitar is made from?
There’s a fair bit of debate on this topic. We will cover this in a separate article and go into more depth but in our opinion timber plays a role in the tone of your guitar. It should be kept in mind that it is only one piece of the overall puzzle and playing style, the amp you plug into, pickup configuration and even the finishing products you use also play a large part. Generally anything under $150 will feature a basswood body as it’s a low cost timber to produce but once you venture beyond the $150.00 mark you will start to come across timber species such as Mahogany and even Alder, which is best known for the timber Fender use for their American Stratocasters.
The Most Common Timbers used in Guitar Kits:
Most commonly used for entry level kits. It’s an inexpensive timber which is grown in Asia and has similar qualities to pine. This isn’t to say it’s not more than suitable for guitars and even Ibanez use it amongst their line of guitars.
Mahogany is a loose grain timber and requires grain filling prior to assembly. It’s credited with a warm, full sound.
Used by Fender for the majority of their guitars including the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster. Alder is credited with being a very consistent tone wood, offering very bright tones.
Tools Required for Assembling a Guitar Kit
The first thing you need is a good clean work area. You need room to move without damaging your new guitar and good ventilation is critical if you are going to be painting the guitar in the same work space.
The great news is very little in the way of tools is required. The tools below are just the essentials. Depending on the type of guitar you buy you may only require tools and materials for finishing the guitar (painting).
- Coping Saw or Electric Jigsaw to cut the headstock shape you desire.
- Straight Edge
- Masking Tape
- Soldering Iron and Solder (unless you purchase a pre-soldered kit)
- Pliers (non essential but often handy)
- Your choice of finish e.g. solid colour or stain
- Various grades of sandpaper (ranging from coarse to very fine)
- Steel wool (for achieving a glossy polished finish)
- Clear Finish (lacquer)
- Polishing cloth or buffer pad
- Ventilation mask
- Wooden block
With this small list of inexpensive tools you will be up and running and ready to build your electric guitar in no time.