Solid Body Electric Guitar

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Project by knotscott posted 03-05-2009 11:33 PM 7295 views 6 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my first and only attempt at a guitar so far. It’s a hard tail electric lead guitar made from curly maple and mahogany, made for my 18 year old son. The neck is a used Mighty Mite Fender replacement that’s birsdeye maple with a rosewood fretboard. The tuners and other hardware came mostly used from Ebay. The pickups are a double humbucker from my brother’s John Petrucci OLP, a used Duncan Lil ‘59, and a used DiMarzio D-111, all mated to a 5-way switch. (The pics show some stock Squire pickups that have since been upgraded). Total cost was about $125.

The curly maple was given to me by a good friend, and the mahogany came from a garage sale…turns out that the mahogany was from a boat table that belonged to a coworker’s brother. The birdseye maple for the pick guard was part of a deck that was discarded at work. Like any memorable guitar, this one has plenty of history …even before a single note was played.

The finish on the front is an aged maple stain on curly maple. The back is natural mahogany, and the whole thing is coated with spray on poly. I’ve since learned that nitrocellulose lacquer is the finish of choice for instruments.

To get started, I sketched out a shape with french curves, and transferred that to a template that I used on the body. The front and rear pieces were cut separately using the same template. There’s alot of routing involved to dig the channels and receptacles for the electronics…much of which is buried beneath the pickguard.

When we started out, we were just hoping the guitar would work. It actually sounded pretty good and we made the decision to upgrade two of the pickups. It sounded much better with the better pickups…good enough that I followed up this project with a homemade 5W single ended tube amp made from parts from my father’s old 1939 Stromberg Carlson radio. The amp chassis is stuffed into an American Bosch radio cabinet from roughly the same era…the Bosch also had belonged to my father. The schematic is a bit of a hybrid between the original Fender Champ and a more modern P1 Extreme. As with the guitar, I had no prior experience in amp building, so once again embarked on a massive research effort. With alot of enthusiasm and the bliss that accompanies ignorance, somehow or another, we got that darned amp to work too. After some experimenting with output tubes, it sounds pretty incredible. It was now obvious that we needed a more appropriate speaker so we bought a used Fender Blues Junior speaker and mounted in a cabinet….I did have lots of previous experience with speaker design so was less daunted by this step. We can now boast that we’ve built the entire chain in his setup. We’re biased as could be, but it’s got a wide range of different sound styles that all sound good…a couple of which are classic blues sounds. We’re extremely pleased with the end result.


5W Tube Amp

a look at the tubes

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

15 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4241 days

#1 posted 03-05-2009 11:57 PM

Fantstic looking guitar!

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 3897 days

#2 posted 03-06-2009 12:21 AM

Wow! Sex, woodworking, and rock’n’roll (drugs are bad.) This is gorgeous.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Loucarb's profile


2388 posts in 3468 days

#3 posted 03-06-2009 12:32 AM

That is impressive. Pretty inventive with the amp also. Nice work. Thanks for sharing

View Ihor's profile


84 posts in 3431 days

#4 posted 03-06-2009 01:18 AM

Great looking guitar!!!

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3696 days

#5 posted 03-06-2009 01:35 AM

Nice guitar!

View Rj's profile


1047 posts in 3654 days

#6 posted 03-06-2009 03:21 AM

Ultra cool !! I really like the shape and woods used
I’d be proud to play this .
You can’t beat those old tube amps They put out a really nice rich sound.

Job Well done

-- Rj's Woodworks,San Jose & Weed Ca,

View Dennis Zongker's profile

Dennis Zongker

2744 posts in 3615 days

#7 posted 03-06-2009 07:04 AM

Beautiful!!! You did a great job.

-- Dennis Zongker

View Tim Dorcas's profile

Tim Dorcas

188 posts in 3881 days

#8 posted 03-06-2009 07:26 AM

First let me say that fantastic job. I really like how everything came together.

-- - A Woodworking & Renovation Blog & - I make. You buy.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18285 posts in 3699 days

#9 posted 03-06-2009 11:11 AM

Nice work. That is probably the last thing ever built with vacuum tubes in the world ;-))

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3897 days

#10 posted 03-06-2009 01:20 PM

Very impressive. Nice work.

View Rob W's profile

Rob W

434 posts in 3559 days

#11 posted 03-06-2009 03:23 PM

very nice

-- Rob — I've cut it off twice and it's still too short!,

View MrMark's profile


31 posts in 3399 days

#12 posted 03-28-2009 08:39 PM

That’s awesome! I’ve built a few ax87 inspired amps but haven’t had the guts to try a guitar yet – you’re helping my confidence- NICE WORK! THANKS!

View JOAT's profile


10 posts in 3384 days

#13 posted 03-28-2009 09:45 PM

thats cool, do you use a milling machine?

View PurpLev's profile


8536 posts in 3671 days

#14 posted 04-23-2009 04:27 PM

thats spankin’awesome! beauriful craftsmanship on the guitar, and sweet looking amp. it’s really time I fixed mine… thanks for the reminder. definitely something I would like to take on one day (build a guitar) Thanks for the detailed explanations, it helps much. makes me feel it’s more doable than I had feared it to be.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View knotscott's profile


8055 posts in 3398 days

#15 posted 04-26-2009 01:11 PM

Thanks gang….you can do this PurpLev!

JOAT – No milling machine, just a router….template tracing bit for the body shape, and a straight bit for the wiring channels. A peak at the wiring channels

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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