Guitar Building DIY Projects for Parents and Kids
There’s no denying music is a powerful force.
Its ability to heal and elicit positive emotions are well documented. But perhaps an even greater attribute of music is its ability to bring people together.
Need an example?
Just check out the crowd (moving as though one) next time you attend a festival or catch a live band in a large venue.
This is perhaps, even more, the case when it comes to family.
Sharing music, jamming with family members or teaching your son or daughter how to play only serves to strengthen existing bonds.
But there’s another aspect to the ‘unifying power of music’ that you may not have considered, and that’s building a musical instrument together.
While this would normally be well beyond the capabilities of most of us (most musical instruments are complex, after all, and require specialist equipment to build) DIY kit guitars help make this dream a reality.
Anyone that has assembled and finished their own kit guitar already knows how special that instrument feels to them. I have several DIY guitars that will always be more valuable to me than their far more expensive counterparts.
So it makes sense that building a kit with a son or daughter will result in an instrument your child (and you) will cherish.
The process will also create a lasting impression and help teach your child valuable lessons such as:
- The ability to follow instructions
- The importance of applying attention to detail
- The power of creativity, (especially when it comes to finishing the guitar).
The Most Famous Father, Son Guitar Project
Did you know Brian May’s (Queen guitarist) famous "red special" guitar was actually a father-son project?
All the way back in 1963, a then 16-year old Brian May and his father, electrical engineer Harold May began building what would go on to become one of the most recognizable electric guitars of all time.
In fact, the guitar was commonly referred to as the ‘fireplace’ as the neck of the guitar was built almost entirely from an 18th-century fireplace mantle from inside the May household.
The body of the guitar was carved from an oak dining room table and the pickups were built using magnets Brian sourced locally and wound using a pickup winding machine that he and his father constructed themselves.
To say the May father and son guitar project was a success, would be somewhat of an understatement.
The ‘fireplace’ featured on 15 albums with combined sales of just over 90 million. There are very few dedicated music fans that haven’t heard the sound of Brian and Harold May’s father and son project guitar.
I’m not promising that the guitar you build with your own son or daughter is going to have anywhere near the same impact, but one thing is for sure. Building a guitar using a DIY kit will require far less effort and potential demolition of your home.
Fortunately, we don’t need to salvage parts from dining room tables or fireplaces or use non-child-friendly power tools.
Thanks to the availability of custom guitar kits, all the difficult work e.g. carving a body and neck, ensuring a tight-fitting neck pocket and carrying out delicate inlay and fretwork is already taken care of. Everything you need to build your own dream guitar comes carefully packaged and ready to assemble.
Ideal Guitar Kits for Building with your child
Depending on the age of your child, if you really want them to feel part of the project e.g. making sure they are involved in every step of the process you are well-advised to start out with a less complex build.
You can always move on to something a little more challenging in the future. Guitar Kit World offers a huge range of DIY guitar kits and a range of custom options.
While the majority of kits are simple to put together when it comes to assembly and finishing, some of our DIY kits such as the TE, ST, and SG models are the most age-appropriate for a couple of reasons.
For one, the electronics are simpler to complete thanks to the large open cavities that contain much of the electronics.
Secondly, with the exception of the ST which has a minimal 1–2 contours (for comfort) the bodies are mostly flat, making preparation e.g. grain filling (if necessary) and sanding much easier.
When it comes to selecting child-friendly custom options, consider the neck joint and having the bridge pre-drilled, both options currently offered when purchasing a kit from Guitar Kit World.
Set necks are typically more difficult to get right than bolt-on necks and you run the risk of affecting the scale length of the guitar if the neck is not perfectly aligned or the bridge position is off.
To learn more about guitar kit assembly check out our step-by-step tutorial:
Child-Friendly, Non-Toxic Finishing Products
Another aspect you may want to consider if building a guitar with your child is avoiding finishing products that contain harmful chemicals.
Finishing supplies can be dangerous and may even result in permanent health problems if the proper safety precautions are not followed. This includes utilizing a well-ventilated area and wearing personal protective equipment such as a ventilation mask and gloves.
It’s difficult to communicate and bond if you are wearing a mask and have a fan running. With this in mind, choose non-toxic finishing materials such as water-based stains and linseed oil or tung oil finishing coats.
You can find a number of these at stewmac.com or lmii.com
The added benefit of using a finish that can be wiped on as opposed to being sprayed is you can complete the job almost anywhere. You won't require a dedicated spray booth or be required to wait for a day that isn’t too windy to avoid overspray.
Water-based stains can be applied easily and as they also dry much quicker can be repeated much faster than other guitar finishes.
Building a guitar with your child is a great project. I’ve personally built a guitar with my preteen daughter and can attest to the fact that it’s a project we’ll both remember and the guitar holds a special place for both of us.
And, who knows perhaps you will introduce your child to a whole new world of possibilities. I know most guitar obsessed parents such as myself would love to have a luthier in the family.