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How Good/bad Was Your First Guitar Project?


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I'm gonna make a solid body, 6 string guitar. It'll be my first guitar of any kind that I'll be making. Say I were to get a book (assume it is a good one) on this, and carefully follow all the steps, how good can I expect my guitar to turn out? How did yours turn out? Did it meet your expectations?? etc. I'm very mechanically inclined, and good with woodworking, so I know I can do everything I have to do. The thing is that I'll take on projects that take proffesionals years to master, and I think it's gonna turn out perfect. They never turn out perfect, either because I don't have experience with it or I just lose interest in it before I'm done. I know there are a lot of variables that contribute to how good/bad it is, but if I do a decent job, use the right materials, etc, how good should I expect it to be?

Edited by NeverDoneThisBefore
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That's way too broad to be answered acurately. It varies from person to person. I've seen some spectacular first builds pop up over the last year. I'm to the finishing stages on my first build and I feel that it's quite good. Not perfect, but they never will be. The bottom line is that even with woodworking experience, it's a learning process, so be prepared to make mistakes. But with time, care, the right attitude, and a little creative problem solving, you can turn out a really solid guitar.

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Nobody can tell you how well it will turn out, that will be up to you.

1. Is it possible to make a great guitar your first time out? Yes

2. What are the root causes of the most common mistakes?

a. Lack of patience

b. Lack of knowledge (instrument specific, wood, tooling, finishing, general woodworking)

c. Lack of attension to detail

d. Trying to take shortcuts

e. Poor planning

f. Trying to use the wrong tool for a task, and or using a tool improperly

g. Not spending time to make proper jigs

h. Not following finish schedules, properly prepairing for finsih, trying to rush a finish or again take shortcuts.

Say I were to get a book (assume it is a good one) on this, and carefully follow all the steps, how good can I expect my guitar to turn out? How did yours turn out? Did it meet your expectations?? etc. I'm very mechanically inclined, and good with woodworking, so I know I can do everything I have to do.

This is good.

The thing is that I'll take on projects that take proffesionals years to master, and I think it's gonna turn out perfect.

Perfect is subjective, in instrument building a project turns out very well if it works well, sounds good, and is durable.

They never turn out perfect, either because I don't have experience with it or I just lose interest in it before I'm done. I know there are a lot of variables that contribute to how good/bad it is, but if I do a decent job, use the right materials, etc, how good should I expect it to be?

This sounds like you set yourself up for failure. Like I said "perfect is subjective". You have to have patience, and be willing to do what it takes to get it done well. It is all up to you, you know that, and your results will reflect your effort.

It is worth saying that your motivation for building your own guitar is worth thinking over. If you are trying to save money, you will not. If you think you will master all aspects of building instruments in one build you will not. This is an expensive hobby, that you will spend years and years learning ("masters" will tell you they are still learning every day). It is a great hobby, and I love it. I am able to continually challenge myself and learn.

Peace,Rich

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Rich pretty much hit the nail on the head so I'll just answer the original question. My first guitar was pretty crappy technically and cosmetically, but very much playable and had a good sound.

To follow this example, take a look at Les Paul & Bo Didley's first home-made guitars. They really looked like poo, but they worked. IIRC, Bo's frets were all spaced evenly!

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Greetings and Welcome from New York! The book I would recommend is Melvyn Hiscocks 'Build Your Own Electric Guitar'. Check Amazon or local Libraries for a copy.

On the question of how did my first turn out? Ive been looking at it for a while so the excitement has sort of worn off, but when friends stop by they see it for the first time they go Holy Shneikys! Thats cool! It turned out good, lots of mistakes that got corrected with the 2nd guitar I made (a Tele). Now the third one is on the table and I hope it will be even better. -Vinny

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There are so many issues that your question raises ... as the reply posts above mine prove. I'm an old office worker with no woodwork training at all, and the only musical instrument I can play is a CD player. Yet for some strange reason I looked at one of my sons' Fenders and figured "that couldn't be too difficult to make?!" So we gave it a go. I was confident we could make something that would 'work' ... but the question would be how well it would 'work'. At worst I figured we'd end up with a fairly impressive wall hanging. When we plugged the end result in and it played [not at first, but that's another story ... about his amp!] we were one rapt father and son team. It tunes correctly, it plays, it's our design, and it looks great. When friends and relatives look at it with awe you can imagine what a real buzz it is. I learnt truck-loads from the process and from lurking around the talented people (guys?) on this forum ... and I learnt how little I actually knew before I started. Our guitar is not perfect, and there are so many things we will know and do better when we start build number 2 ... but only a player or a forum member would spot the mistakes and short-cuts. So the short answer is, if I can do it with my limited skills and music knowledge, then you certainly should be able to. But plan out and draw up what you're going to build ... run your ideas past the very giving (and honest!) people on this forum, be prepared to take crticism and to listen and learn ... and finally, you will find the answer to just about any question you might have in these forums, so practice with the search function. And if that fails ... just ask.

Sorry for the longish post ... but I feel like I could now write a thesis on "The Transition from Conscious Incompetence to Unconscious Competence of the Newbie Member and Builder on the Project Guitar Forum".

Enjoy the ride!!

:D

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My first came out decent, not many people can spot out the defects unless they really study it. My neck pocket came out messed up and there were some mistakes filled with wood glue but it sounds great and looks the part for what i play (heavy rock/punk). The second one is starting to look similar to the first mistakes wise but it's a much more technical build

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I'm still on my first build, actually applying sealer coats now. Until now(I'll be posting in the finishing section)everything went pretty smoothly and I've been kinda pround of myself. There have been a couple close calls that would have turned it into firewood, but a little luck helped me out and I learned what almost went wrong and I'll be aware next time. Really it all depends on your skill level and patience. This is one of those areas where it pays to be anul. (the board wont let me use the correct spelling)

Edited by lowrider
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I also think it depends on the level of guitar you want to build. Do you want triple binding massive inlays, complicated wiring or do you want form and function with some class?

A good first build is a bolt on telecaster or stratocaster. No need for binding and you can still have a classy axe when you are done. You can get excellent templated from places like guitarbuildingtemplates.com and there are a slew of builds on here to guide you. When I'm in the mood to make something I go for the tele shape. Lots of room to do stuff and a good classic shape.

Also, if you really want to set yourself up, consider an oil finish over hardcoat. It looks classy and is much easier on a first build.

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I'm gonna make a solid body, 6 string guitar. It'll be my first guitar of any kind that I'll be making. Say I were to get a book (assume it is a good one) on this, and carefully follow all the steps, how good can I expect my guitar to turn out? How did yours turn out? Did it meet your expectations?? etc. I'm very mechanically inclined, and good with woodworking, so I know I can do everything I have to do. The thing is that I'll take on projects that take proffesionals years to master, and I think it's gonna turn out perfect. They never turn out perfect, either because I don't have experience with it or I just lose interest in it before I'm done. I know there are a lot of variables that contribute to how good/bad it is, but if I do a decent job, use the right materials, etc, how good should I expect it to be?

well, im 17 years old, ive played guitar since i was 13 thats my only qualification. when i started building i had just turned 16.

i had NO wood working experiance. just a good brain. im ok at math.

here is my first guitar.

sidewayszr3.jpg

Neck joint/neck work

My first crummy inlay (its a bird! not a palm tree!)

She looks best from the behind

im surprised it turned out as well as it did. if your good with wood working id say the only thing you need to wory about is fretting. thats what got me. other than that the rest is very easy!!! and can be done with simple brainpower and good explination. now if you take your time planning it out, and have a good CAD program (i LOVE acdsee canvas v11) you can be spot on accurate and expect a very professional job

for my first build i had none of the above and it still playes very nicely. i did use a fretpress, and coulnt reach fret 17 on, ill fix it later (probly not :D) so beware of that.

so in conclusion if a 16 year old with no experiance can im sure you could do 20x better! and id say what i did wasnt HALF bad.

hope this helps

Kenny

Edited by Kenny
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For what it is worth, this was the first completely from scratch build I did.

DSCF0013.jpg

I actually didn't know there were forums on the web for people who built when I made it, so I was on my own. I can tell you the forums would have been a welcome resource for ideas, and methods. The bass works great and sounds super. I wanted something Passive (all my basses were active), and I wanted a comfortable fretless (which it is). Fun build, and I still enjoy playing it today. My building has gone a very different direction since though.

Peace,Rich

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