How to Build an Electric Guitar From Recycled Parts

Written by lisa wampler
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How to Build an Electric Guitar From Recycled Parts
Building a guitar from spare parts can save you on purchasing a new one. (Guitar player #1 image by Warren Millar from

Salvaging recycled parts from old electric guitars so you can build another is a great way to save money. However, your salvaged parts must work together, or you will have a guitar that does not ring the correct notes when you play it. You must pay attention to the neck scale, pickup variety and the type of bridge used on the recycled body you salvage. With attention to details, you can make a great guitar out of recycled parts.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench set
  • Electrical tape
  • Guitar neck
  • Guitar body
  • Tuners
  • Pickups
  • Pickguard (optional)
  • Electrical harness
  • Guitar bridge
  • Knobs
  • Strap pins
  • Screws

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  1. 1

    Set the guitar neck into the neck pocket on the guitar's body and measure the scale length to ensure they will work together. Measure from the front of the guitar's nut to the centre of the 12th fret and mark down the measurement. Then measure from the centre of the 12th fret to the location where the bridge mounts to the body of the guitar. The measurements must equal each other. Using recycled necks and bodies can present issues if you do not purchase the correct neck for the body. Every neck has a scale length. The scale length is the measurement from the front of the guitar neck's nut to the centre of the 12th fret. You then double that number to get the scale length. This is important because the second measurement is from the centre of the 12th fret to the guitar's bridge. If you use a guitar neck with a 25.5-inch scale length and a guitar body with a bridge placed at 24.75-inches, you will not be able to play the guitar correctly. So, make sure the body you purchase matches the scale length of the neck you purchase.

  2. 2

    Place a neck cover plate onto the back of the guitar where you see the four holes for the neck screws, then secure the neck to the guitar with four neck-attachment screws and a Phillip's screwdriver.

  3. 3

    Place the guitar tuners into the backside of the headstock, so the tuning pegs stick out through the face of the headstock. Line the mounting tab on the back of the tuner up with the screw hole in the back of the headstock and secure the tuners in place with the screws and screwdriver. Place the threaded hex-head caps over the tuning pegs and then tighten the caps in place with a wrench. This completes the assembly of the neck.

  4. 4

    Install the guitar bridge/tail piece. If you have a Tune-o-matic tail piece, pound the bushings into the two holes for the bridge bushings and into the two holes for the tailpiece bushings with a rubber mallet. Thread the studs into the bushings and then place the bridge and tail piece in place. If you have a Floyd Rose-style bridge, pound the bushings into the two holes for the bridge and then thread the pivot bolts into the bushings. Place the bridge onto the pivot bolts and secure it into place by connecting the three springs to the tremolo block and the tremolo claw located inside the tremolo cavity. There are many different types of bridges used on guitars and it is important to use the same style of bridge, unless you want to complete extensive guitar modifications. For example, if your guitar takes a Floyd Rose tremolo, you should source a recycled Floyd Rose tremolo.

  5. 5

    Purchase the correct recycled pickups for the guitar. There are two basic kinds of pickups on the market today. The single-coil pickup fits into guitars such as the Fender Stratocaster or Telecaster. They are much smaller than the second-humbucking pickups. Humbuckings are two single-coil pickups attached together. You can usually tell which pickups your guitar will take by looking at the body. The pickups are important because they transfer sound from the guitar strings to the amplifier. Make sure you purchase the wiring harness with the guitar. This includes the controls, switches and jack., which makes installation easier.

  6. 6

    Secure the electronics inside the control cavity or onto the pickguard of the guitar. Secure the controls, switches and jack with a wrench. Secure the pickups to the face of the guitar with screws and a screwdriver. Wire the pickups back to the controls. This process could differ depending on your situation. In most cases, the wires were cut off when the pickups were removed from the guitar.Splice the wires back together and cover them with electrical tape. If the controls mount to a pickguard, secure the pickguard to the face of the guitar with screws and a screwdriver. If the controls mount inside a control cavity, place the back cover on the control cavity and secure it with screws and a screwdriver.

  7. 7

    Place the knobs onto the controls and secure the strap pins to the guitar. One pin goes onto the butt of the guitar and the other pin goes onto the upper horn of the guitar. You will find holes where the pins were previously attached because the body is recycled.

  8. 8

    String the guitar using new strings. Tune the guitar, and adjust the bridge until none of the strings buzz against the fretboard on the neck.

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