Luthier Shop: Building A Guitar (Part 1)

Building a guitar on your own, though it may seem daunting, is a very rewarding project that ends with a one-of-a-kind instrument. Even if you’re a new luthier, you can build your own guitar with some time, patience, and a few tools. Let’s look step-by-step on how to build your own guitar. We will be using an Allen Eden relic electric guitar kit which includes all the parts needed for the DIY project.

 

Kits include:

American alder body

3-ply cream pickup

Canadian maple neck

6-screw vibrato bridge

Trem arm

3 tension springs

Spring claw

2 springs

Neck plate

Strap buttons

Output jack with recess plate

6 Kluson-style tuners

Bushings

String trees

Back plate

Screws (all needed)

Strings

Instrument cable

 

Tools needed

Allen Eden guitar kit

Electric drill and drill bits

Phillips screwdriver 

Hammer

Nose pliers 

Aviation snips

 

Marrying the neck

  1. Check the fit of the neck pocket. Make sure that the neck has full contact on the bass and treble sides of the taper.
  2. Once the pocket is checked and good to go, flip the guitar over, line up the plate with the screw holes, and screw it in. You can hand tighten them in place or use a hand drill. Make sure to maintain firm, solid contact with the neck and the body.

Installing the pickguard

  1. Check the fit of the pickups in the pickup cavity. The wires on the pickups have specific channels they go to, so placing them correctly is essential. 
    1. When placing the wires, the green one goes to the tension springs in the back, and the white and black ones go to the output jack. 
  2. Feed the wires through their sections, and set the guard down level on the body.
  3. Before screwing the plate in, check how the bridge fits in the pocket. If the guard isn’t being interrupted by the neck or bridge, then put the screws in the bridge on the outer holes.

Setting up the holding screws and output jack

  1. Mark the top corners of the guard on both sides of the neck pocket as a guide on where to drill. 
  2. With a 3 1/32” drill bit, board those marks and install screws.
  3. Once the holding screws are in place, mark the rest of the drill spots running along the perimeter of the guard, then board each mark and install screws. Clean out any debris while you work.
  4. Set the output jack with enough body material on each side, and mark the drill spots on both ends of the output jack. Once each spot is drilled, screw the output jack in place.

Installing your strap button

  1. Take your calipers and measure the distance between the top and the bottom of the body. Make sure to measure the same distance at the base of the body in case they are different.
  2. Divide the measurements in half and place the button where you’d like along that line. Once you’ve chosen your button placement, drill the holes and screw in the buttons.

Installing the springs into the back plate

  1. Flip the guitar over, and measure the depth of the route. Divide that number in half, and that will be the baseline.
  2. Use the spring claw to find your screw points, mark them, drill them, and screw the both with the claw in place.
    1. If you’re using nose pliers, set the hook onto the bridge block, and pull the spring loop onto the claw. This may take a few tries, so don’t worry if you can’t hook the spring immediately.

Installing the bushings and tuners

  1. Hold the bushings over the holes, and tap them lightly on the top to fit them in place.
    1. The holes are not much larger than the bushings, so make sure to balance them as you tap them in.
  2. Once the bushings catch in the holes, tap them with the hammer until they’re secure.
  3. Once the bushings are secured, place the tuners into the bushings one at a time. Start with the first and sixth holes in the formation, then insert the rest. Once they’re all flush, screw them down.

Now that the main hardware is installed, we will move onto installing the electronics. Take a look at our next guitar building tutorial for step-by-step instructions on how to install all of the electronics.

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