Making your own musical instruments is a rewarding experience. You get to make them to your own specifications and once made, the instrument is truly one-of-a-kind. Making electric guitars may take a little time and effort, but it's essentially a simple process. Headless guitars are just like normal guitars with the exception of the tuning system, which is located at the bridge. This difference makes the traditional headstock redundant, hence the lack of head.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Body blank
- Headless guitar tuning system
- Electric screw driver
- Nut file
- Smoothing file
- Soldering iron
- Polyvinyl acetate
- Gloss paint
Measure your hardware and parts carefully. You'll need to cut holes for the guitar's bridge, pots, dials and pickups. You should be as precise as possible when cutting holes in the body blank, so that you don't waste material.
Cut the guitar body from a blank. You can order body blanks online, or you can buy them from a luthier, a craftsman who makes stringed instruments. Some blanks come with holes already cut, but since you're making a headless electric guitar with a less common bridge, cut the holes yourself.
Plot the placement of the tuning mechanism, pickups and neck. The tuning mechanism functions the way a bridge on a regular guitar would and sits in the same position on the body. The body blank will probably come with a neck cavity, but if not, you can rout a cavity yourself. The tuning mechanism, pickups and neck should all be aligned with each other and positioned central to the guitar body.
Make cavities for the electrics and hardware. You'll need to make homes for the volume controls, pickups, bridge and input socket. Remember that the bridge on a headless electric guitar comes with a built-in tuning device, so you won't have typical dimensions.
Wire in the electrics. Follow the schematic that came with the pickups precisely. If you did not get a schematic with your pick ups, you can find them online.
Customise the neck. If you've ordered a regular neck, saw off the head approximately two centimetres above where the nut will lie and file it to a smooth finish. Use a drill and a tempered edge nut file to create slots for the ball ends of the strings.
Glue the neck to the head using high-quality wood glue, preferably one made from polyvinyl acetate. Ensure that the neck lies completely flush to the body joint and that no air bubbles are caught in the gap.
Fix the bridge into its cavity. Remember that this bridge also contains the tuning mechanism so ensure that the tuning mechanism is easily accessible for the player.
Smooth off the body and neck, apply a primer and then paint to your preference. Apply a high quality varnish once the paint is dry.
Tips and warnings
- If you ever wish to realign your guitar neck, use alcohol to dissolve the polyvinyl acetate glue.
- Before cutting the blank, check it for blemishes and cracks. If you find any, send the blank back and request a replacement.
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