How to Build a Guitar

There is more than one way to build a guitar. This article discusses the most basic steps in building this instrument.

Materials Needed

  • Guitar plan
  • Top wood and rosette
  • Back and sides
  • Wood stock for bindings, linings, and blocks and braces
  • Neck and fingerboard
  • Fretwire and tuners

Steps to Build the Top of the Guitar

  1. Join the wood pieces for the top.
  2. Stick the joined halves of the top together.
  3. Drill the registration holes. Include a 3/8-inch hole for the sound hole cutter.
  4. Set up the drill press. Cut the rosette at the top using the drill press.
  5. Sand the top to its final dimension.
  6. Cut out a sound hole.
  7. File the edges of the sound hole with a router and jig.
  8. Cut the bracing stock for the top braces.
  9. Set a notch in the x-brace. The angle of the x determines the characteristic sound of the guitar.
  10. Rough out the braces’ top.
  11. Mark the wood where the top braces would be positioned.
  12. Cut and shape the x-braces. A thin and tall brace is usually preferred.
  13. Carve the bridge plate. Clamp it securely between the legs of the x-brace.
  14. Shape and sand the remaining top braces.
  15. Make sound hole braces and attach them.
  16. Cut the brace ends to intended length and thickness.
  17. Check the sand inside the top. Make sure that it is as smooth as the outside.

Steps to Build the Back of the Guitar

  1. Join the wood pieces for the back.
  2. Glue together the joined pieces.
  3. Incise a slot for the center strip.
  4. Attach the center strip.
  5. File the back and sides to the desired length and thickness.
  6. Shape and attach the center cross grain strip. Check that it is centered.
  7. Incise slots in the center grain strip for braces.
  8. Rough-cut the wood stock for back braces.
  9. Shape the bottom arch on the top and braces.
  10. File the entire surface of the brace.
  11. Fit the braces into the slots in the center grain strip.
  12. Attach the back braces.

Steps to Build the Sides of the Guitar

  1. Select wood that matches the back.
  2. Cut the side pieces from 0.09 to 0.095 inches.
  3. Soak the side pieces in water. Bend the sides.
  4. Cut the rib edge to desired length.
  5. Set the ribs into mold and tightly secure them.
  6. Create neck blocks. Attach the neck blocks to the ribs.
  7. Take the ribs out of the mold. Sand their interiors smooth.
  8. Carve a niche, such as a simple taper.
  9. Carve a dogtail recess to provide the neck and body joint structural stability.

Steps to Build the Kerfed Linings

  1. Fasten the back to the ribs.
  2. Put a mark on the ribs to locate the fingerboard braces and the x-brace ends.
  3. Cut the lining and ribs to attach the braces.
  4. Trim the remaining braces just short of the linings.
  5. Dry-fit these braces to check correct entering and placement.

Steps to Bind the Body of the Guitar

  1. Cut a purfling ledge and a binding ledge for the back. Make sure that the binding ledge is deeper in order to contain the side purfling.
  2. Cut the top purfling ledge and the top binding ledge. The top binding ledge should also be deeper in order to accommodate the side purfling.
  3. Rebend the side purfling. Create miter joints for the side purfling at the butt wedge.
  4. Fix the side purfling’s miter joint at the end wedge.
  5. Set up the back and top purflings.
  6. Pre-cut a masking tape for binding.
  7. Put in place the binding for the top and the back.
  8. Bore a pinhole at the end.
  9. Attach a hook and a sound hole cup.

Steps to Build the Neck of the Guitar

  1. Lay out two neck planks with templates for either a 12-fret or a 14-fret model.
  2. Band-saw the neck planks.
  3. Incise the trust rod slot on the shaper.
  4. Attach peghead ears when necessary.
  5. Level the peghead flat in its position.
  6. Mark out and drill grill gear holes.
  7. Cut and anchor the trust rod.
  8. Prepare the trust rod filler and glue it in.
  9. Carve a pocket for the trust rod mut.
  10. Add tension on the trust rod.
  11. Smoothen out the fingerboard surface of the neck.
  12. Join the neck surface of the fingerboard.
  13. Mark out and drill holes for jig holes.
  14. Cut a 14-inch radius for the playing surface.
  15. Shape the fret shots.
  16. Drill locating holes on the fingerboard’s underside.
  17. Press and polish the frets and the fingerboard.
  18. Set the nuts and the saddle blanks into their slots.
  19. Install inlay if necessary.
  20. Attach side dot markers.
  21. Install the frets.
  22. Assemble the neck.
  23. String and tune the guitar.