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Guitar body trial-version idea

Dugz Ink

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Okay... so I'm really concerned about spending $100+ on some nice wood for my first project, so I decided to buy a large piece of Poplar just so I could practice. I found a piece that would be large enough at the local Home Deopt for $14, so I bought it.


Here's my idea for this wood.

Create a face and a back, and practice routing/drilling/filing the holes, slots, channels, etc... but don't glue the two halves together. Instead, I was thinking about using clamps or wood screws to hold the pieces together, so I could take them apart and use them for templates. That is, if I do these two pieces right.

Do you think this will work?


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You do what works best for you, we're all different, and we learn differently thru different means, some methods work better for some, other methods for others.

But I would -seriously- recommend you approach those two pieces of Poplar like they were a $300.00 pair of booked Claro Walnut halves.

You won't learn as much if you don't take that wood that you have as a serious bona-fide guitar-in-the-making.

Plan on building your first real guitar out of that Poplar if you really want the most out of the learning experience.

Always keeping at the back of your mind that they won't be anything but templates will make you not take the operations to come as seriously as you should, and a case of the 'it'll do's' , followed by an affliction of 'well, I can skip that part' will set in and you'll get sloppy. Very sloppy. Probably not even finish it. Wanna bet on it?

When it comes to the hard parts, to the parts where you will have to stretch yourself, the parts where real learning takes place...the parts you'd rather avoid if you could...don't worry, you'll skip ALL those parts if in the back of your head you are thinking that you really just have some templates there.

Don't do that. Take it seriously.

Learn how to clean those join lines up so they're PERFECT before you glue them together (just like building a real guitar...duhhh B) ).

There is no middle ground really, either you're trying to make a real guitar, or you're just playing around at it. Either is fine unless you actually want to build a guitar, in which case only one answer is correct. :D

Your attitude going in, the entire way you look at this project,...has a lot to do with it's outcome.

True fact. :D

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First off, I don't entirely disagree with Drak, but I would offer a piece of advice based on how I started. I bought a piece of MDF (medium density fiberboard). It's cheap as heck and easy to cut and carve up. I did the same thing you suggested, made a front and a back and carved out the pickup holes, neck pocket, and the control cavities on the back. It was a great experince for me to work with shapes and get comfy with the tools and stuff. You'll make a ton of mistakes. It's all part of the process. You'll also learn tht routing is a pain if you don't have templates!

Next I bought high grade oak ply at my local Home Depot. I did the same excercise but to a higher standard and planned to use these as my templates. The cool thing is that I could screw them together, slip a neck in and it almost felt like a real complete guitar. Heck, I even put on the trem and pickups. It kept me going and got me pumped to build a real deal one and now I had my templates. The cool thing was that my oak ply template set had all the lessons I learned on the MDF test run. Plus the oak holds up well when used more than once for templates.

So in essence, whatever gets you started is great, especially if it was cheap. but listen to these guys, they know what they're doing and they'll show you how to make the most of your finished product. Party on man.


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actually drak is saying to treat it as if it was going to be a guitar that you would play for the rest of your life...that way you will learn ALL of your lessons on that one and you will be more ready to tackle the expensive wood for the next one

i agree with him...and poplar is good wood,so it will make a playable guitar

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Let me start by saying "thank you"... not just for your advice, but also for a great forum.

I appreciate what you guys have said, and I can see the merits of Drak's comments, but I also appreciate what Nick said. If I treat it like a real project, I will take the time to work out all of the details, so I will learn more. But if it is not THE body that I want to build, then I won't get angry and give up after I screw up $100+ worth of beautiful wood. Those are very good insights and advice.

The piece that I bought was 1" x 12" x 36"... which is just a little too narrow for the guitar body. However, I'm going to cut off some wood (about 1½") up by the horns, and I can use that wood to add on to the lower section that is too narrow. (I have the clamps that I need for making "butcher-block" tops... among my many wood working tools.)

And who knows... it's a cheap guitar... maybe I'll like the Poplar body enough to keep it.

But the ultimate goal is to learn enough so that I can start building my own bass guitar from scratch. I figure this will get me started, because I'll have to make sure that the "template" is good enough to provide the right angle and height for good action. I've never done that before, so I'm very concerned. But I have a factory body that I can use as a reference... so here I go!

I just didn't know if I could screw the pieces together and make this work temporarily.

(BTW: This body will go on my Epiphone "Les Paul Jr"... if I do it right.)

Thanks, again, for the input. And I'm always open to more advice!


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Hey, I did the same thing as well. Only, I used some luuan for my template, and used pine as the wood of choice. I also made it a 2 peice, so I always had an established center line I could work off of. I made about 4 of thoes, along with necks ( only shaped 1 of them... you can imagin why)

But its great practice, and you learn your own tips and tricks as you go along, much better practice than reading how to do somthing.

Some more advice, Always practice a cut before you make it, and think everything out, Before I cut the angle for my scarf joint (on my real, 45 dollar peice of neck wood) I practiced it about 6 times on pine scraps (cause I was using a homemade jig on my table saw)

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it wont be too heavy to work with but it would damage easier

Yeah, it's almost as easy to dent Poplar as it is to dent the fender of a Kia.

But, I'm a bass player, not a head-banging guitar-slinger... so it might be safe.

If this is as addictive as it looks, I'll probably make a better body in a couple of years, anyway. "Gee, honey, I think it's time to re-model the Epiphone. What do you think? HONEY???"


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Just a thought but that poplar may not be thick enough for an actual body anyway would it? But, Poplar is a great wood to work with. Heck, My first couple of guitars were poplar and they played fine. I was cutting out some cheap Masonite today for some pickguards and came to the realisation that when I cut one of them that the faster I cut it the cleaner the cut was and the more precise I tried to be the more I got nervous and cut crooked. That works for me but maybe not for you. Like DRAK said find out what works best for you and some of the advise you pick up here as well. Guitar building gets in yer blood and ya won't wanna do anything else.

Edited by PerryL
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that poplar may not be thick enough for an actual body anyway would it?

The Epiphone body is 1½" and the Poplar has been planed down to about ¾"... so I was going to cut it into two pieces, and use one for a "face" and one for a "back"... and I'm hoping that will work.

I'm going to start cutting this weekend, so we'll find out soon.

By the way...

I've also wondered about sandwiching a piece of aluminum between the two pieces of wood... in case this poplar needed more strength. I did something similar on a boat-repair project, and it was very strong. In that case, I used a small sheet of perforated aluminum between two thin pieces of wood. The perforations where essential, because they allowed the epoxy to bond to the aluminum AND through the aluminum.

But I don't know how aluminum will affect the resonating qualities of the body.

Here I go... overthinking projects, again.


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