Make a CNC guitar neck

CNC machining a telecaster guitar neck

This step by step guide shows one way of making a guitar neck using a CNC router.  Warning: CNC machines can be dangerous, especially when you are trying out new toolpaths and techniques. This project is meant to give you an idea of how to CNC a neck, but you will certainly have to adapt the individual steps to make it work on your particular machine.


Record player pickup winder and unwinder

Record player pickup winder

This is a home made pickup unwinder made by Bill Crozier, after he was unsatisfied with the sound of his Tex Mex pickup. He designed a pickup unwinder to unwind the pickup wire onto a reel, and then used the same setup to scatter rewind the pickup. He mounted the pickup on a rotating Lazy Susan, and the wire take-up spool on a record player.

DIY fretboard scalloping

DIY fret scalloping

This is a step-by-step guide to scalloping your fretboard. Scalloping is the removal of wood between the frets (usually from fret 14 upwards). Some players, like Yngwie Malmsteen, favour a scalloped fretboard as it is supposed to make it easier to play fast.

The tools needed are: a round file and sandpaper for wood removal and a Dremel for polishing.

Link: DIY guide to fretboard scalloping

How to replace your guitar pickups

Squier telecaster bridge raised showing the underneath of the pickup

Guitarists sometimes replace their stock pickups in the hope of improving their guitar's tone. This step by step guide shows you how to swap your existing guitar-pickups for new ones. 
The instructable is written by John Smith who changed the bridge pickup on his Squier Telecaster  to a Seymour Duncan Little '59 in the hope of a more Les Paul type of sound. But the same technique should be equally useful for other guitars.

Ruby Amp in a Magic 8-ball

Ruby Practice guitar amp housed in a magic 8 ball

The Ruby Amp is a great little battery powered solidstate practice amp. The design is based on the Little Gem design which in turn comes from the Smokey Amp designed by Dave Stork on The design uses relatively few components and is a good DIY project. Cigar box guitar maker J.K. built a Ruby Amp but found himself hunting for a suitable enclosure for it. Then he noticed an old magic 8 ball that looked just right with a perfect sized hole for the speaker.

Is this a good amp? ...<Shakes ball vigourously>... Signs point to yes!

Make a cigar box guitar and amplifier

Cigar box guitar headstock with bolt tuners

This pdf file from Make magazine shows you how to make a three string cigar box guitar and matching amplifier. At an estimated cost of $15 to $30 this project uses no standard guitar parts: for example the machine heads are eye bolts and the frets are filed down nails held on with rubber bands. You could substitute some of the parts for real guitar components if you want to make a luxury version.

Make a LEGO pickup winder


These are two examples of pickup winders made out of LEGO. They use the motorised Mindstorms , NXT type components to spin the pickup bobbin. I haven't seen any LEGO winders with an automatic travese mechanism yet, but it won't be long before someone builds one.

The first is a pickup unwinder, for despooling a broken pickup, by Scorpion097 .

Rish developed the lego pickup winder further, making a more conventional design with LEGO NXT components for winding pickups.

Make a pickup using GeoMag parts


GeoMag is a magnetic toy construction system. It connects together using short magnetic rods and little steel balls. Niels Kaagaard noticed the resemblance of the GeoMag rods to the pole pieces in a single coil pickup and proceeded to make a pickup out of them.  When you remove the plastic coating from the GeoMag rod you can see it is a steel bar with neodymium magnets at either end. To work as a pickup pole you need to remove one of these magnets. Niels then made some bobbins from fibreboard and wound the pickup coil around the GeoMag rods using his own hand winder.

Make a hand powered pickup winder


This is a clever DIY pickup winder design by Niels Kaagaard. It uses a fishing reel to spin the bobbin. It is hand powered, so carbon emissions are limited to your exhaled breath as you wind it furiously.

It's missing a traverse mechanism at the moment, however, you can see that the wire is not layed down evenly. I would run a belt from the reel to power a cam traversing mechanism.

Link: Fishing reel pickup winder

Make a paper guitar


Every guitarist has a wish list of dream guitars they are never going to own. Some guitars are just too expensive, like the Gretsch White Falcon. Some are just not for sale, like Jimi Hendrix's psychedlic Flying V.

Now you can have that guitar you have always wanted, at least a minaiture paper version of it. has loads of free cut-out papercraft guitar models. You cut out all the pieces and glue them together to get the guitar of your dreams

Make a talk-box


Jeff Beck, Peter Frampton, Slash and Zakk Wylde have all used a talk box at one time or anothe to give a vocal quality to their solo guitar. A talk box is essentially a speaker attached with an air tight connection to a plastic tube. When you place this tube in your mouth it acts like an artifical larynx and you can make yor guitar speak. A vocal microphone next to your mouth then picks up the sound and feeds it into the PA system.

Make a pickup with neodymium magnets


Traditional guitar pickups used alnico magnets or ceramic magnets. Neodymium magnets, a form of rare-earth magnet, have not often been used in guitar pickups. These extra strong magnets are becoming more and more available, and this instructable shows how to use them in a single coil pickup. The design uses screws as pole-pieces with small circular neodymium magnets underneath the pickups. Also contains a bit on how to pot the pickup in wax.

Make a cracker box amplifier


This is a sample project from MAKE magazine, which shows you how to build a cracker box guitar amplifier for around $5 . It only shows the first few pages of the project, but it gives the schematic for the circuit and you should be able to work out how to finish it yourself. For the full article you will need to buy issue 9 of MAKE. Or why not subscribe: it's an excellent magazine for would be inventors and often features music related projects.

Make a USB guitar


USB ports are everywhere these days, so why not put one in your guitar? This project from PCMag describes how to embed a USB audio interface in your guitar. This digitises your guitar's signal ready for recording on your PC's hard drive.

The project requires the following bits and pieces: an M-Audio Session USB interface, a USB panel jack, a Switchcraft 11A jack, a Switchcraft 12B jack, some aluminium sheet and screws. The total cost of parts is about $80 (not including the guitar).

Make a metronome


When you're playing in a band, going a little out of tune is forgivable but if you lose timing the whole thing falls apart. To help your timing why not try this metronome project?

Electronic parts needed: A 555 IC, 3x 1K Ohm Resistor, 2x 22uF 16V Capacitor, a 9V Battery, an 8 Ohm Speaker and a 250K Ohm Potentiometer. The tools required depend on how you want to put it together: in the project the guy uses a breadboard (no soldering required) but you could use a copper board and solder it together to make a more permanent item.

Slap your bass


Slapping is a bass technique where you hitting the string with your thumb near the start of the neck, often pulling or snapping the higher strings with your index and middle finger (popping). This technique first appeared in the 1970s and was synonymous with the funk music of that period. Larry Graham, bassist with Sly and the Family Stone, was one of the bass slapping pioneers. The eighties saw a new generation of slappers, like Mark King of Level 42.


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