My first guitar

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Project by Ollie posted 06-08-2009 05:35 PM 2204 views 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This guitar is my first attempt. It is made from 2 sheets of 26mm plywood glued together and then shaped with a jigsaw, spokeshave etc. and carved a bit with some chisels. The fretboard is made from a piece of scrap mahogany i had, and some very carefull measuring then the fretwires are just pressed in with some molegrips and a bit of gentle hammering. This is really just a proof of concept design really, I intend to make a similar shaped quitar from black walnut when i can get hold of a large piece.
The scratchplate is naked carbon fibre because , well I just like it really. The electrical parts are just cheapo stuff from my local guitar shop ( about £25 all in) and i must thank my friend Graham for wiring it up for me.
The nobs are from padauk with a little bit of the sapwood left on the edge to indicate position.
Incidentally I do not play guitar but my brother and many of my friends do.
I am doing things in a backwards lumberjock way, the theory being that if i build it then i should understand it better ! i can now do 2 chords, so watch out i could be the new Hendrix. It does work by the way, and it does play quite nicely so i am told by those more equipped to tell than me. There have been a few issues I was intending to use a metal bridge from a stratocaster but the neck is a little too slim so i had to custom make one from some zebrano (`cos its really hard). and also the trussrod is ineffective because the neck is too strong` next time I will have to make the fretboard much thinner. still, you live and learn. finish is danish oil. Ollie.

-- Ollie, UK.

7 comments so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4246 days

#1 posted 06-08-2009 07:34 PM

You’ve got some really interesting design elements going on there. I can’t wait to see how the walnut version comes out.

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

View spaids's profile


699 posts in 3721 days

#2 posted 06-08-2009 08:15 PM

This is the first time I have ever heard of a guitar made of plywood. I am pretty shocked by the idea. How does it sound? And you carved it and everything! I would have never thought of this. I am curious about the truss rod. The idea of the wood being to strong for the rod to be effective is a bit odd. Necks or routinely made of very strong wood. Maple mahogany ebony rosewood. I’m surprised that plywood is so stiff that the rod doesn’t work.

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

View Ollie's profile


146 posts in 3302 days

#3 posted 06-08-2009 09:35 PM

Hi spaids to answer your questions first it sounds quite warm and has good resonance, and it feels about the same weight as my brothers yamaha solid guitar on which it is loosely based. yes i carved it with some japanese chisels but if i did it again i might try to router the spirals. The problem with the neck is because of the percentage of its total thickness made from the very strong mahogany fretboard. I tried to bend the neck by hand and i can only just bend it a little with considerable effort. I looked at some other guitars and their fretboards were about half that of mine.

-- Ollie, UK.

View spaids's profile


699 posts in 3721 days

#4 posted 06-08-2009 09:39 PM

But aren’t Les Pauls made with a mahogany neck and a rosewood fret board? The thickest part of the neck itself is mahogany. My point is I fear you have a damaged truss rod. Even if it is broken though its probably not worth the labor of the repair since this is a test prototype anyway. And whether it is broken or the neck is too strong like you say it doesn’t seem to be causing it to play bad so it really doesn’t matter I guess. But you might want to investigate this further before making another axe out of a more costly wood. I hear truss rods are easy to break if you aren’t completely aware of its tolerances.

Keep in mind… I’ve never made a guitar so I know nothing. :)

-- Wipe the blood stains from your blade before coming in.--

View Karson's profile


35125 posts in 4428 days

#5 posted 06-09-2009 09:52 PM

I havent’s made my first yet. Two sons who want to play. One does already and the other is a wannabe.

Good first try and a learning curve.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View Deathwabble's profile


27 posts in 3055 days

#6 posted 03-05-2010 02:33 AM

ollie are you shore that you set the truss rod deep enough into the neck.

View senselessdiver's profile


36 posts in 3066 days

#7 posted 03-26-2010 08:44 AM

Cool! In fact, most of the knock-offs I have, when stripped down, are also plywood (the bodies at least). I think your design is very unique. Like the carvings too. Thanks for sharing!

-- avid termite

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