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New Guy Into Building Necks

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i'm new at this, and i'm sure you get these questions frequently, so if you know of links to good discussions on the questions i have, i'd greatly appreciate any time spent looking for them and posting them for me!

ok so here goes:

I own a 5-piece neck from a 60's japanese guitar, and its beautiful!!! (mahogany, maple, mahogany, maple, mahogany) and i'd like to build one nearly exactly like it... so

1. where do you guys usually buy lumber for a project liike this?

2. even though i'd have a template to go by, i'd still like to know the procedure for figuring out the angle on the headstock (is it different for flat mounted bridges and tune-o-matics?)

3. is there a formula to calculate the distance between each fret?

4. how will i know the heighth to build my neck? should it seat at a certain heigth from the body?

Also, does anyone know of a website that has free templates for bodies and necks? the guitarbuildingtemplates.com templates seem a little pricy!

thanks guys for your help!

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Hi Jared, welcome to the forum. :D

Building your own guitar (or even part of one like a neck) is a process of big-time self education. While I and I'm sure others appreciate your thirst for knowledge, it is a thirst best satisfied by active effort on your part to educate yourself.

Answers to your questions have been made here countless times, and are to be found by using the Search function at the top of every forum page. Active searching on your own initiative will always bring answers more quickly than posting questions and hanging around waiting for answers.

Better than that are a number of books on building guitars that are a MUST read before you buy and cut any lumber. Melvyn Hiscock's "Building Your Own Electric Guitar" is a great place to start; read it, then re-read it. There are others as well. Having books like that on your shelf provide instant sources of reference that don't require you to even turn on a computer.

To give you some short answers to your questions:

1) Go to Woodfinder.com, enter your zip code and kind of wood your after, and you'll find most of the lumber places near you.

2) Headstock angle has nothing to do with the bridge, and it purely a matter of preference. You may be confusing it with neck angle.

3) Read up to understand what "scale length" means, and Fretfind or the Stewart McDonald fret calculators are good resources.

4) Neck thickness is one of many many many measurements that go into building a guitar; read up to understand why it is important.

5) Templates cost money because they require peoples' time and effort to make. GBT templates are a good deal and will save you a lot of time, but it is even more educational (and will build your skills) to make your own templates. Draw it out to scale in CAD, print and cut it out, stick it to 3/4" plywood, then make it yourself, working at it until it is perfect (its just plywood, not mahogany or anything). It is great practice for working on the actual instrument.

This is a journey more akin to a marathon than a sprint, best of luck and here's hoping you become one who crosses the finish line. :D

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buy this book Melvyn Hiscock's "Building Your Own Electric Guitar"

there is alot of info in this book.

as for buying wood

I buy my wood all over the place if I see a good piece buy it before it's goone.

the whole guitar building thing is cool and the more you build the better you will get at it.

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Erik is right on the money as usual.

There are many things to learn, and it takes time and patience. Some of what you need to know pertains to instrument theory, some to woodworking, some to electronics, and some to finishing. Start with a rock solid foundation in how instruments work, and don't even think about how long it will take to build. It is not a race, too many people think it makes a bit of difference how fast they can build when they are starting. Never hesitate to spend the time to make perfect jigs, they ALWAYS pay off in accuracy. Never rush to a next step. If you feel pushed to move speed up the process or feel like you are not getting anything done, stop and think through the entire build in your head from start to finish (it is a good tool to keep things straight). If you ever feel you are not totally clear about how something works stop and research until you have the concept clearly in your head. If you are not sure as to how well a jig or tool will work, practice on scrap until you feel confident in the method. Always dry fit and walk through the glueing and clamping process, before you attempt to use adhesives. Many times you will find something does not work well and you may need to adjust. Never accept a poor joining surface, part that is not quite straight, or figure you can straighten something out later (or even worse figure you will force things to fit). One fantastic effort that takes two years is better than twenty that are sloppy with little attension to detail or accuracy.


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  • 2 weeks later...

All great advise so far. The most critical tool in guitar building is patience. You'll notice that the best looking builds in the current projects forum have been going on for several months. Very few people have the opportunity to work on a guitar all day long every day. But the time off also gives you a great chance to think through your next steps. Keep a journal of your work. Make notes of what you did right and wrong. If you see good info on this board, copy it or print it and keep it as a reference. Think through any build several times before you even buy the lumber. Most guys will have built the guitar in their head several times before even making the commitment. That way you have a road map of where you are heading. But take your time and work safely and good luck.

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