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How Much Does Building Cost?


Ryanesque
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I am getting the bug to build a guitar.. I've been posting here and there...

what kind of investment is it? Lets assume I'll buy a pre-slotted fretbord,and I own ZERO files.

You guys make it look easy... I actually have a body here...and a good strat neck that needs a re-fret..

but I'd like to start from scratch.. maybe do a tele or a jaguar type body with P-90's or some G&L pups.. with a purple heart fretboard on birds eye maple back...... MMMmmmmMmm...

Ryan

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The cost all depends on what you want. I took an old guitar and stripped it of the hardware and built a new body for it and the total cost was basically the cost of the wood. For a solid alder body it was like $30-40. But then the next guitar I built I spent several times that. And I know of builds that make even that look cheap. The tools are something that requires thought as to how often you plan on building. If you just want to build one or two, then a whole slew of tools may not be the best option. However, if you plan on doing this a lot, then invest in good tools to do the job right. It all depends on what you want to get out of it and how many you want to make.

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The cost all depends on what you want. I took an old guitar and stripped it of the hardware and built a new body for it and the total cost was basically the cost of the wood. For a solid alder body it was like $30-40. But then the next guitar I built I spent several times that. And I know of builds that make even that look cheap. The tools are something that requires thought as to how often you plan on building. If you just want to build one or two, then a whole slew of tools may not be the best option. However, if you plan on doing this a lot, then invest in good tools to do the job right. It all depends on what you want to get out of it and how many you want to make.

It costs as much as the wood and parts...no more. As long as you have tools you may find yourself buying a few more that would be helpful with building a guitar.

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He said that he owns ZERO files, so the cost of the files is going to be factored into the build. Plus a refret requires even more specialized tools. Once you buy them you own them, but any cutting tools require sharpening and wear down and at some point need to be replaced. Especially anyone who is building for profit has to figure in some money to cover overhead such as tool where, sharpenings, electricity. He is starting with his first build so there is no thought of profit at this point, but his credit card won't know the difference of tools or parts.

As for a first build, it is safe to say that $150 to $300 is a safe estimate depending on the brand and quality of parts that you buy for the guitar alone. If you have to pay some one else to do some of the work, then that will cost more. The pricing for tools can range greatly, it again depends on brand and quality, but also what you already own. The first few builds always drain the most money from your pocket since you are buying the tools. If you have a very limited tool box you can easily drop $500 in tools without thinking about it, but it is best to look at the list of required tools that is pinned and decide what you NEED and what you WANT. I started with very minimal tools and bought my first neck because it was a ton cheaper than buying all of the tools for fretting and creating string nuts.

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If you don't have any building experience and don't own ANY tools, then it might be kind of difficult to make a guitar. But, it can definitely be done. :D There are tons of people who have made very nice first guitars without any experience. I actually got interested in building guitars a few years ago when I stumbled on to this site. I didn't have much woodworking experience, didn't know too much about how guitars were made, and didn't have much money to buy parts or tools. I decided that I really wanted to build a guitar and do it for cheap. I planned on buying the cheapest parts available and use minimal tools. I was going to use an old jigsaw to cut out the body and use a chisel for the cavities.

Once I started learning more about building and actually practicing with scrap wood though I figured it would be best to invest in certain tools. I ended up getting a router (you definitely need one of those I think if you want it to be easy and accurate), a bandsaw, a small drill press, and some other tools. Over the last two years I've spent about $500 on tools and could easily spend twice that on more tools. If you have money to spend, then you should invest in certain tools. But if you are patient, you can get by without spending money on certain tools (bandsaw, router)....or you could borrow tools from people.

As for the guitar parts, that is up to you. You can spend a lot of money on great wood and parts, or you can build a cheaper (slightly lower quality guitar) guitar. Some people spend well over $1500 to build a guitar, but you can make one for less than $500. I'm currently working on my second project and it will probably end up being around $500 or so for the wood and parts. THe last project I did was a bass, and here are some pricing specs that might help give you an estimate of what to expect if you want to do a cheap project:

alder body blank- $50

premade neck (with tuners) bought on ebay- $40

EMG select pickups- $45

wiring kit- $25

knobs/shielding/neck plate/etc $40

TOTAL= approximately $200

I went as cheap as I could and the quality wasn't that great, but you can see that it is possible to make a guitar for fairly cheap. As you progress you can spend more to make better guitars. For my current project I've spent almost $200 on just the wood, and I would have preferred to spend more. The total will probably be around $500 and I keep getting tools as I go along.

So....sorry this is kind of long, and I'm not sure if it helps you much. Basically I am just saying that you CAN build a guitar for fairly cheap. If you are serious and have the money though I recommend good tools. You have us here at the forum for help, so feel free to ask about where to do your parts/wood shopping and how to build guitars. Good luck with your project! :D

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You'll need

A Bandsaw or a jigsaw (bandsaws work better for cutting the body shape)

A Router

Drill Press

Fret Files

Templates

Fret Hammer

Rasps

If you get the cheapest stuff around all these tools would maybe cost $200- $300

____________________________________________________________________________

Alder Body Blank

Birdseye Maple Neck Blank

Purple Heart fretboard

Pickups

Electronics

Tuners

Bridge

Accesories (knobs, plates, fret wire etc)

All this stuff will then cost you at least another $200- $300 depending on the quality of the parts you buy and where you buy it from....

Stew Mac

Guitar Fetish

Mighty Mite

Warmoth

Project Guitar users

So without any tools or supplies you should be looking to about $600, but if you plan to build more guitars in the future I strongly recommend you do not buy the cheapest tools around.

Edited by Cam
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Another way to look at it - you will NEVER build one as cheap as those coming out of Asia, or that you can buy secondhand. I mean that both ways too. It will cost you more for the parts, AND the one you build will usually be better quality (i.e. not as cheap).

I added up the costs for the 335 I just made, and it's over $300 - and that's without buying premium parts.

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For a first build, I wouldn't spend a lot on parts and wood. Chances are that something in your crafstmanship will cause more problems in the finished guitar than using a $10 bridge. Now, if you buy cheap hardware, your project turns out great and you realize you need better hardware, just upgrade it. This helps spread the cost around too--spending $500 over a year is a lot easier than spending it in a few weeks as you gather supplies!

This is why with each project, I tend to buy one or two new tools--either upgrading from the crap I've been using, or buying something completely new to me.

Random thoughts:

-if you have a steady hand, you don't need a drill press to drill straight holes. I do it carefully with a hand-held electric drill. I wasn't good at it at first but I can now drill 90deg holes.

-you can build a guitar without a router (I've done it) but it's such a pain, you may as well just buy one. (And get a template bit)

My current solidbody project has cost me ~$107 so far. I still need to get neck/fb wood, frets, etc., but it will probably be under $150 total. Now, I bought some dirt cheap parts from an ebay supplier. For this project, I was just itching to build and figured, what the heck, I can get better parts later if these are proven inadequate.

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Well for what it's worth...I do have *some tools* but nothing to cut or rout. I have a bunch of pickups laying around, a spare body, a neck with a crappy fret-job, another one that needs a refret.. I don't have a garage so that really limits me a lot.

okay this is OT on my own Topic but... i came up with this idea today.

Hollow-body Telecaster (maybe even neck through.)

Sound holes, but not "F" holes. YTBD..

Poplar back, Ash or Mahogany top (or Alder body with ash or Mahog top..I really like naked Ashes...haha)

Maple neck, Purple heart F/B (med jumbo frets)

P-90 in the neck, Humbucker in the Bridge

Coil tap, 3 way switch 9I mean with the tap, who needs more than 3?)

1 Volume, 1 Tone (I can use a Tele mounting plate almost stock)

Blue Trans finish on the body and headstock

Purple Pearloid P/G

I do have some experience working with wood so it's not like I've never picked up a tape measure before. I just don't have the tools to do it, really. Everything looks pretty easy except for fretting.

Ry

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Hm, I wouldn't stain mahogany blue, since it has such a lovely color on its own (but that's just me). The concept looks good, but you might consider switching to P-90 bridge, humbucker in the neck. To my ears, P-90's can sound a little "woolly" in the neck position, while humbuckers give you a rounder tone there. And a P-90 in the bridge will always smoke a bridge humbucker... :D

I do have *some tools* but nothing to cut or rout.

Um... what does that leave you? :D

It sounds like if you work with what you have, either way, you're going to have to do some fretwork. It's not hard, just read up on it... and be patient... it's quite tedious. And get the right tools.

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