Building a guitar

My friend SB said he was thinking about building his dream bass guitar from parts and after band practice we sat down and watched some videos on how you can go about doing that. He went home and I kept watching them. I somehow convinced myself that it was totally doable from scratch. The aim was to make something interesting. I knew I wanted to make it with direct mount pickups because as my friend Wallenbeep says, Strats have too much pickguard going on.

The following happened over the last 24 days. I’m still working on it which is why this is a really long write up.

I firstly proceeded to buy a second hand Squier Affinity Stratocaster and take it to bits. Then using some MDF make a template.

The Squier Strat
The Squier Strat
The MDF Template
The MDF Template

I then went for a drive out to the reclamation yard and bought myself a slab of wood. It’s pine but a relatively dense piece. I don’t personally don’t buy into the whole tonewood thing. Of course it makes a difference but are my screaming fans going to be muttering to each other that my guitar sounds too warm and wooly because I didn’t use an expensive hardwood? Meh. Anyway this is my first build so a £5 plank to experiment with is perfectly adequate.

Manky slab of wood
Before…
Slightly better looking wood
…and after

It cleaned up nicely with a bit of sanding and planing. I then cut it in half and glued it up.

2 become 1
2 become 1

At this point my attention turned to the neck. I sanded the lacquer off and proceeded up the grits until it felt really nice and smooth.

I started thinking about how much I like Telecaster headstocks and wondered if it was possible to mod a Strat to a Tele. Internet said yes so I downloaded a template and printed it off.

Headstock modHeadstock template

After carefully drawing around the paper template I proceeded to slowly cut the headstock out with a coping saw.

Coping with Saw

A little sanding using a dowel to keep it evenly pressured.

Headstock sanding

It turned out much better than I expected. In fact it only took me about 20 minutes.

Headstock strat teleHeadstock mod complete

The Glue had now set on the body and so I traced the template and roughly cut it out.

Body cutting

That grain tho
That grain tho..

Around about here I stopped taking pictures but I realised that the slab was about 7mm to thick and so I took it to a timber yard nearby and had them put it through their Planer Thicknesser. This also got rid of the holes in the grain which was a Brucey bonus. I then bought myself some pattern bits for my Dad’s router. Using double sided sticky tape I mounted the template to the body and routed the shape. Just a quick aside: Never ever use double sided tape on a guitar body as it leaves a horrible gluey residue which is a pain to remove. I have since used the masking tape and superglue trick as taught on the Crimson Guitars Youtube channel here.

Routing the body
Routing the body

Routing body final

It was at this point where I decided that I rather liked the sides blocky like a Tele and that the build was going to be a Strat/Tele hybrid. Strat body shape but with blocky sides like a Tele with a Tele headstock but with 3 single coil pickups but with a Tele bridge and control plate but Strat 5 way wiring but no wait with a push pull pot to get 7 way to get Tele neck and bridge sounds. Yaaaaaaas!!!

Next was cutting the neck pocket. Again not many pictures because I was stressed. I made a 2nd template from the body blank because the first template was not 100% after all the sanding I had done :/ Using digital calipers, rulers and set squares I measured and drew the centre line on the end of the neck and using this positioned the neck on the template and drew around it. I then cut this out and sanded it to the correct dimensions. I clamped this onto an off cut and did a test routing the pocket.

Neck pocket test

It was okay but a little loose and a bit too deep. I knew I could better so I did it all again.

Neck pocket completeNeck pocket close up

It was mega stressful and I kept putting it off and putting it off but I finally gave in and to be honest I’m really happy with the result. A tiny gap at the bottom but once again it’s my first ever build so I’m not too worried.

That’s it for now!