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Custom Guitar Build

As a musician, it can often be difficult to find an instrument that lets you express yourself to the fullest extent. When I was looking for a guitar to be my primary player, I couldn’t find anything in stores that was exciting – so I decided to design and build one instead.

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The design for the guitar body.

I took on this project with only cursory knowledge of woodworking, and moderate familiarity with circuit design for the internal components. Each stage of the project was thoroughly researched online – I took the popular “measure twice, cut once” woodworking mentality to heart. The neck was spec’d out and purchased from Warmoth, and the body was a custom design I conceived and built from a large block of padauk, an African swamp ash with tonal qualities similar to maple. By the end of the project, I was a much more proficient woodworker (I have advised/supervised others in the shop), and still play the instrument I created as my only current guitar. (The wood color shown in the picture is 100% natural, with only an oil finish applied at the end of the project.)

The electronics of this project are also slightly different from most guitars. My guitar includes a true bypass toggle for the bridge pickup. This switch, when engaged, bypasses the potentiometers that control volume, tonal shape, and pickup selection, and instead pass the raw signal from the bridge pickup directly to output. This results in a more aggressive tone, and is useful particularly for hard-hitting melody lines and solos.

Sound examples from this guitar can be found on my SoundCloud page, including the songs Flying Free and The Itch.

The finished build.

The finished build.

The wood used for the body. Even before working it, it had the beautiful orange color that comes through in the final product.

The wood used for the body. Even before working it, it had the beautiful orange color that comes through in the final product.

Some of the routing involved to make space for the components / tremolo arm.

Some of the routing involved to make space for the components / tremolo arm.

A test fit with the neck, almost at completion.

A test fit with the neck, almost at completion.

The body post-sanding.

The body post-sanding.

Another finished shot.

Another finished shot.

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