How to Design Your Own Guitar
4.7 (47 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
216 students enrolled

How to Design Your Own Guitar

An informal guide to designing your own guitar
4.7 (47 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
216 students enrolled
Created by Mark Bailey
Last updated 9/2018
English [Auto]
Price: $79.99
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
This course includes
  • 2.5 hours on-demand video
  • 1 article
  • 17 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
Training 5 or more people?

Get your team access to 4,000+ top Udemy courses anytime, anywhere.

Try Udemy for Business
What you'll learn
  • By the end of the course you will understand the guitar design process and be able to create a full scale working drawing of an electric guitar
  • an overview of the design process
  • guitar anatomy - wood, parts, hardware
  • understand the difference between main construction methods - bolt on, set and neck-thru
  • how to make key design decisions at each stage
  • drawing techniques
  • how to complete your own working drawing
  • top tips
  • much more
  • NO previous knowledge of guitars, drawing or design is needed
  • pencil, sharpener and rubber
  • large blank paper around 1.2m/ 4 feet min (wallpaper/liner roll is ideal)
  • Rulers - 150mm or 300mm(6 or 12 inch) and 1000mm (40 inch)
  • Drafting square (or protractor from drawing set)
  • a roll of masking tape or 4 spring clips
  • tracing paper
  • a table or board to work

  Why design your own guitar? 

            Designing your own guitar is fun and working through the design process is a great way to gain a better understanding of the instrument. 

            If you like guitars, this is a really interesting way to spend a few hours, but also a great starting point if you want to get a custom guitar made, or build your own. 

            You could just follow a pre-made plan but it is much more rewarding to design completely from scratch. You can let your imagination run wild as guitars can be virtually any shape. 

            A working drawing is essential if you intend to build the guitar and an invaluable way to communicate your ideas to your guitar maker should you decide to have it made for you. 

  Overall Aim 

            To begin with a blank sheet of paper and work through the entire design process, making vital decisions as you go. You will finish with a custom guitar drawing of your very own. 

  Step by Step 

            The course will guide you step by step through the guitar design process from the perspective of a professional builder. 

            The design will be a real working drawing of a guitar and the course is intended to give you the best possible chance of success if you do go ahead and build. 

            The guitar designed in this course will be made in the next course - Build Your Own First Guitar. 

  Over and over again 

            You will need only a few inexpensive items to complete your drawing. These along with the course material can be used over and over again as many times as you want until you find the perfect design! 

  How long will it take? 

            Drawing a shape for your guitar is the easy bit. Making sure all the important bits are in the right place and that it will actually work as a musical instrument requires a little work. 

            It will take a couple of hours to go through the process the first time as there is a lot of information to cover but once you have completed the course and understand the process will become easier and quicker. 

  Whats included 

      The course contains full instructions and a library of templates to create your own original guitar design and working drawing. It covers all aspects of designing a solid body electric guitar, including vital information on construction styles, wood, hardware, bridges, tuners, pickups , electrics and much more! 

  Library of templates 

  (downloadable PDF’s) are included for tracing, to aid in your drawing. 

  • Pickups: single coil, humbucker, P90

  • Control Cavities and Layouts

  • Standard and Floyd Rose Trem

  • Headstocks and Tuner Locations

  • Neck joints: Bolt on, set neck and neck thru

  Why I wrote it 

            There is much myth and confusion around the world of guitar design. This course aims to fix that and help to avoid many of the common mistakes made by the unwary. 

  Whats possible 

            These instructions cover only solid body electric guitars. Acoustic, semi-acoustic and archtop guitars have other aspects of the design like bracing which is beyond the scope of this book. 

  Left hand or right hand 

            Left handed designs can also be drawn using this method. Whenever you see this symbol LH read the note and it will tell you what to do, usually this will be simply turning the tracing over. 

Who this course is for:
  • Anyone interested in guitars, guitar making and guitar design
Course content
Expand all 32 lectures 04:44:42
+ How to make a working drawing
6 lectures 15:35

This lecture outlines what this course is all about

Preview 01:22

    This lecture gives more info about the process you will be studying and is self-explanatory. Many of the items mentioned will be picked up in more detail as you work through the course. You may want to look in Section 4 for information about specific aspects of guitar construction, but this is not essential at this stage, and I will refer you to additional specific lectures as you need them.

Preview 00:35

You do not need to already have a good working knowledge of guitar construction to complete this course, but it does help to have a picture of the basic components - this lecture aims to outline those key parts

If you would like more info on individual elements, see the bonus lectures in Section 4

Preview 02:15

This is where the course starts to get practical - as you will see the equipment requirements are fairly simple

It is essential to read the PDF " What You Need" ( in Supp Mat) - this way you can see exactly what you have or need to get before you start drawing

I mention using patterns in the video - there is a PDF for you to copy and use in section 5

I show you how to trace those onto your design in section 2 Lecture 12

Preview 02:13

In this slightly longer lecture I run through all the basic drawing techniques - you will probably know them already but there are some simple tips and essential do's and dont's which you need to be aware of before you start. Some of the most simple errors can cause major problems down the line.

If you are going to do a design it may as well be accurate - even if you don't plan to build it

There is a summary PDF "Drawing Techniques" to support this lecture

Drawing Techniques

In the final lecture of this introductory section, I summarise the design process and you get a flavour of the lectures to come. Along with the rest of the first section, it should bring together all the information you have learnt so far, and show how it all fits together... so you can start to design with a bit more confidence

Don't worry if the video seems a bit fast - I go over each bit in more detail in next section.

If you don't yet feel ready to start making the drawing, then revisit all the lectures in this section, including the Supp Mats - and if you like to have the maximum amount of info before you get hands on, then work your way through all the lectures (including the bonus material) before you start

Preview 03:47
+ Making the Working Drawing
8 lectures 42:13

When we start to design a guitar, we begin with all the things we know - every guitar has a centre-line and everything else is measure from this

So this is the starting point for any drawing or build, and needs to be right - in this first pencil to paper lecture, I show you how and why

Accuracy is really important from the start - whether you plan to build the guitar or not - I show you a few useful tips to getting the line in the right place

Mark the centreline

In this lecture I explain the importance of the nut. We will explore a few of the options, and how this relates to your design

Mark the Nut

Here I explain the mathematical mystery of scale length, and the position of frets on the fretboard.

To save you a little time a Fret Calculator for Microsoft Excel can be found in the resources for this lecture.

For drawing purposes, marking the scale length is as accurate as we need to be, but this doesn't account for intonation

Lecture 26 in Section 4 gives more info about intonation

Mark the Scale length

The width of the neck is determined by your choice of nut and bridge - In this lecture I will explain how to mark the bridge E-E spacing and use that to mark out the profile of the fretboard.

For more information on bridges see Section 4 lecture 25 "Guitar Bridge Options"

Marking the bridge and fretboard

If we were to build this guitar a choice has to be made at this point between 2 different headstock styles - angled back or parallel.

This choice is influenced by the neck construction style but for the design we just need to know if it is a 3 a side or 6 in line style.

For more info check out Section 4 lecture 21 - Neck Join Styles and lecture 22 Parallel headstock

I mention patterns again here also - check out the PDF "Patterns" and the lecture 12 on how to trace those patterns

Mark the Headstock

The next job is to mark pick ups and you need the patterns to do this job - this lecture explains how to use tracing paper and transfer the outlines to your design

This is a longer lecture as it demonstrates how to trace, and specifically shows step by step addition of pick ups to the design

There is a brief tutorial on pick up choices but much more detail can be found in Section 4 lecture 27 "Pick Ups"

You should definately look at this lecture if you would like to have something other than 2 humbuckers on your design

Mark the pickups and tracing

Body shape is one of the most varied parts of a guitar and often the first thing that people focus on when they think of guitar design

The beauty of a working drawing done in pencil, is that once the other decisions (in previous lectures) have been made, the body can be designed to taste...and altered and developed

Even after the drawing is complete you can continue to develop the shape - if you design your own I recommend you live with it for a while before you go ahead and commission or build the guitar. That way you can continue to refine your design until you are sure you are truly happy with it

Mark the Body shape

The longest lecture of the course so far, will take you through a combination of tutorial about the type and location of the controls - including what controls, where to position, & Marks recommendations- plus how to mark them accurately on the design

It isn't just about the positioning on the front of the guitar - there are decisions to be made about rear cavities which house the control electrics

I will demonstrate how to create a custom control cavity, or you can use the PDF pattern provided

Mark the Controls and Electrics
+ Final Stages
4 lectures 19:54

In this lecture I summarise different aspects of guitar body styling - ie the additional shaping that is applied to the body by carving.

It always helps to plan where that shaping might be to avoid problems down the line

I demonstrate how to represent the different choices of body styling on your drawing

Guitar Body Styles

They may look small, but a guitar without fret markers can be difficult to play - in my experience most people can manage without markers on the front, but need them on the side. We don't mark the side dots as we are not drawing a side elevation.

It is useful to mark strap pin locations - this can be tricky on single cut guitar body shapes as they are often on the back of the guitar

Bits and Bobs - Strap pins, and inlays

With any job its always worth checking what you have done before moving on to the next - even in a paper exercise . This lecture runs through the main checks but with a view to the design being used as a plan for a build

Final check

Congratulations! I hope you enjoyed the course and found it useful. Now you can go ahead and have fun designing yours!

Don't forget to watch all the bonus lectures as there is much more info there. If you have any further Q's please don't hesitate to ask or start your own course discussion.

Build Your Own Guitar is now LIVE and you can find the all the links I refer to here in the final section Resources: Where to Get Stuff - Useful Links.

Final Summary - What's Next?
+ Bonus Lectures and Optional Extras
11 lectures 01:02:21

Neck Wood: Recommended neck wood for your first guitar - What makes a good piece of wood - Quartersawn Wood - 'Bolt on', 'Glued in', and 'Thru' neck blanks - 'Laminated' necks - Fretboard Blanks - Premade Fretboards

Wood: Part 1 - The Neck

Body Wood: Recommended body wood for your first guitar - Body blanks - One and Two piece blanks - Caps - Figure - Bookmatching - Fake Binding

Wood: Part 2 - The Body

For basic design purposes, the neck style is not important but if the guitar is to be made it is. This is the longest lecture and I explain the 3 main styles plus some variations, and what those choices mean for the design

Neck Join Styles

This is commonly used for bolt on neck guitars - I explain the difference and show you how to modify the plan

Parallel Headstock Design

Everything you need to know about truss rods

Truss Rods

What they are, what they do and why they are important - and some basic options


A guitar bridge comes in many different shapes (and several colours) and whilst they may all be fixed to the body in different ways, essentially the bridge is there to hold the strings at the body end

For the design all we need to know is the location and the rough size of the bridge so we can ensure that the mounting screws/posts are in the correct place and clear of control cavities

I recommend a wrapover with 2 posts for the simplest design or build.

Guitar Bridge options

Why are bridges always positioned at an angle ? Intonation is the answer and is explained here


Alternatives and options for pick up choices and layouts - includes how to modify the design

Pick Ups

Binding, coverplates and their use including common materials


This bonus lecture has little or no bearing on your drawing, but is the final piece of the guitar building jigsaw

The finish you choose will have a massive effect on how long the guitar build will take - here I explain some of the different finishes and techniques used to apply them

+ Resources
3 lectures 00:39

All the basic patterns you will need, based on my recommendations, to complete your design.

These are the same patterns used to make templates for building the guitar in the next course.

The Plan
1 page

Some links I hope you will find useful - Please don't forget to 'complete' this lecture so you can get your 100% completion certificate!

Where to Get Stuff - Useful Links

'1st draft' of Tools for Guitar making...I will keep this list updated - please let me know if you spot anything missing or wrong...

143 pages