STōK is here for your next great idea, and we’re here to help you along the way. The Electric Guitar DIY series is designed to teach you the basics of building an electric guitar. Starting with body design, we will cover wood selection and body shape, moving on to pickups, neck shaping, fretting, wiring, finishing and finally, sound setup.
What you need to complete Episode 7
If you don’t have some of the items, feel free to get creative with what you do have or can easily obtain. Experiment and have fun. See complete Tool, Part and Material List
– center punch and hammer
– appropriate drill bit
– straight edge or neck centering guide
– drill press – screw driver
– forstner bit
– extra long drill bit
– tape measure or bridge locator
Let’s Get Started
In the last episode we did the fretwork on the neck. In this episode we are going to attach he neck and prep the body for the electronics.
The first step to attaching the neck is centering the neck plate on the back of the neck. Once it’s centered we can use the holes as a template for locating the screw holes. Simply use a center punch and tap directly in the center.
We are going to use the drill press so the holes are nice and straight. I’m using Brad point bits to help locate the punch marks. You can use the Brad point bit to reduce tear out by drilling down until only the bit point goes through. When you flip over the guitar you can use the small holes from the bard point to center the bit and finish drilling the rest of the way.
After the holes are drilled we need to transfer them to the heal of the neck. It is IMPORTANT the centerline of the neck is straight with the centerline of the body. I use a neck-centering guide to make sure this neck is straight. You could also use a long straight edge to follow the neck centerline to the body centerline.
Once the neck is lined up and clamped in place, slide a punch through the holes in the body and tap a mark onto the neck.
Back at the drill press, we are going to use the depth gauge to make sure we don’t go all the way through. Drill the holes about halfway through the neck. Make sure the bit is smaller than the screw, but not too small. The screw should be snug.
With the holes drilled we can attach the neck. I use a screwdriver because it’s easier to determine the torque.
Now that the neck is attached, we can locate the bridge. No matter what scale length you use for your guitar, the distance from the front of the nut and the 12th fret will be the same as the distance from the 12th fret and the bridge. Once you have that measurement you can place the bridge in the right spot, center punch the holes and pre drill for the screws.
Our last step is to drill some holes. Drill the holes using Forstner bits or appropriate drill bits. You can use the same technique to reduce tear out for these holes.
The first hole we will drill is the hole for the jack. This hole should be located where it is easy access but not in the way. The hole is a bit bigger than the jack but smaller than the jack plate.
The next holes are for the tone, volume, and pickup switch. These can be located anywhere in the control cavity. I recommend locating them in places that are easily accessible while playing, but not intrusive. Play with it and adjust it to fit you.
The last holes we need are holes from the pickup cavities to the control cavity. These holes are for the pickup wires. I used an extra long bit so I can get the right angle. I also suggest placing something on the body to protect it from the bit.
Now that we’re all prepped lets add some color. In the next episode I’ll show you how it’s done and give you a few tips on how to add your own flare.
What you need to complete the entire Electric DIY series
Don’t have some of the items on the list, experiment with alternatives and have fun.
– clamps (lots o’ clamps)
– router and router table with appropriate bits
– drill press and/or electric drill with guide
– band saw or jigsaw
– sandpaper, spindle sander or hand sander
– files and rasps
– tape measure
– soldering iron
– fretting tools (hammer, fret press, fret lever, fret files)
– radius cauls
– polishing wheel
– string gauge
– radius gauge
– fret rocker
Parts & Materials List
– wood for body (ash)
– wood for neck (walnut)
– pre-radius end fretboard (12-degree radius)
– truss rod
– double humbucker pickups
– volume and tone potentiometers
– 3-way switch
– input jack
– fret wire
– top-loading bridge
– TUSQ nut
– neck plate
– tuning machines (aka tuners)
– string trees
– control cavity cover
– strap buttons
– electronic wire
– guitar strings