Sunday, February 12, 2017

How to make an experimental mini electric guitar

I found an old bed in the garbage. I think it was pine wood. I decided to make a mini guitar with it.

First of all I used a handsaw and a chisel to cut the bed’s post to more manageable pieces and to disassemble the whole thing.

I then jointed two thick pieces with my hand plane and glued them together.

The bed had a cylindrical part. I mounted that on the lathe and reduced it’s thickness to create my guitar’s fretboard.

I planed the glued the boards straight. To remove more material I planed the boards across the grain. Then I smoothed the surface, going parallel to the grain of the wood.

I then drew my guitar’s body, and cut the basic shape on the bandsaw.

To remove the saw marks and to finish the shaping of the body, I used my spokeshave, rasps and sand paper.

I then routed out the place for the pickup. I did that in several passes in order to go deep enough.

I also used the router to open up a space for the electric parts on the back. I connected all the champers by drilling holes. To open up the whole for the jack I used my step drill bit.

I covered some imperfections with wood filler, and sanded over it after it was dry.

Using my table saw and a cross cut sled, I cut out two lap joints for the guitar’s neck.

I then planed down a thinner piece of the bed to act as my headstock. I cut it’s basic shape on the bandsaw and shaped it with a rasp and sandpaper.

I glued the neck on the fret board. 

Out of a piece of plywood I made the pickup’s mounting base. I cut it’s shape on the bandsaw. I removed the inner piece on my scroll saw. I shaped it with my rasp. I drilled all the holes for the screws on the drill press and counter sinked the ones on the edges.

I then glued the neck on the guitar’s body. 

Using a hacksaw I cut a scrap metal piece, to act as my jack plate. I drilled holes on it on the drill press. I used a tap in the middle hole to create threads. This way the jack is screwed on it. I mounted the plate on a vise and hammered it to give it a curve to match the curve of my guitar’s body.

I shaped the headstock using my draw knife, a number 1 rasp, a number 2 rasp and sandpaper.

After the glue was dry, I secured the headstock and the fretboard in place with screws. To add the screws I predrilled some pilot holes and then counter sinked them so the screws sit flat.

For keys I used a pair of old guitar keys I had from an old guitar. I cut them to size with my hacksaw and shaped them on my grinder. 

I then used a saw and a file to cut a notch on the fret board for the nut.

I sprayed a primer to all the parts. After it was dry I light sanded with 300 grit sandpaper.

I then sprayed on the color coats.

I mounted a piece of wood on the lathe and turned a knob for the volume pot. I used a skew chisel and a spindle gouge. To drill the hole in the middle with accuracy I did it also on the lathe.

I wanted the front of the headstock to be black, so I masked the neck with blue masking tape and painted it over.

I finished everything with a few coats of clear varnish.

My electric connections were pretty easy. I used a wiring diagram for a humbucker and a volume and soldered all the parts together. I connected the electric parts temporarily and tested them out on a small amp. I taped the pickup with a metal piece and if it created a sound on the amp, the pickup worked.

I then made the bridge and nut from a piece of hardwood. I cut their shapes on the bandsaw and shaped them on the disc sander. For the bridge I also cut a metal piece with a hacksaw and shaped it on the grinder. Both pieces had to match the radius of the fretboard.

Now it was time for assembly. Most of this procedure was drilling pilot holes and screwing things in place.

I also added two string guides on the headstock.

The stings are mounted on the guitar’s body through two holes. In order for the strings not to hurt the wood, I hammered four rivet heads in place.

I used a small V file to open up grooves for the strings, on the bridge and nut.

For fret I used zip ties. To find their right position, I used an online fret calculator app. The important thing here, is to measure the distance from nut to bridge. I marked the distances of the frets (from the nut ) and added the zip ties exactly before the mark. 

One important thing I did not showed in the video is that I remade the pickup’s base from thicker plywood. This way the pickup sits much closer to the strings and this increased it’s volume and sound quality, pretty much. You can only see this important detail at the end of the video where I play the guitar.

My guitar was ready rock at this point, I hope you liked it.

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