How to Design Your Own Guitar
- 2.5 hours on-demand video
- 1 article
- 17 downloadable resources
- Full lifetime access
- Access on mobile and TV
- Certificate of Completion
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- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- Anyone interested in guitars, guitar making and guitar design
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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"
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.