Cheap guitar build ideas?

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by highwaycat, Oct 14, 2021.

  1. highwaycat

    highwaycat Tele-Holic

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    Looking for ideas on putting together one or a few cheap builds for beginners and keep the cost as low as possible.
    Anyone know who’s selling good batches of cheap but good guitar bodies?
    Preferably finished in appealing/fun colors.

    The plan is to use good necks I have, mostly standard strat specs, but go cheap on the body and pickups.

    The neck pockets need to be good for what I’m trying to do, with a good setup.

    Another question, what would be the cost/return on investing in tools to make bodies? I heard you don’t really save money if you’re doing a small amount. I have limited space, and prefer not doing finishing work.
    I wanna do my version of a budget guitar but people tell me it’s a hard business model.
     
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  2. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    GFS/Guitar Fetish sometimes blows out finished bodies, necks, pickups, parts, etc.

    You have to be fairly savvy about guitar geometry to assemble various parts like these because they often don't perfectly match up. Not only is 'some assembly required', but some modifications to the parts are also necessary.
     
  3. Timbresmith1

    Timbresmith1 Tele-Afflicted

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    Build Danelectro style bodies. Masonite and pine.
    Wanna get fancy? Put formica on them
     
  4. dreamingtele

    dreamingtele Friend of Leo's

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    I probably just get better parts to make sure parts fit and are correctly done rather than saving a buck or two on super cheap ones that may or may not work.

    at least neck pockets are correct and screw holes line up the first time, no modifications required.

    if you want a cheap guitar, just get decent quality ones like Harley Benton or something. If you already have a neck, then a loaded body or just a body from trusted source would be a better use of money

    however, it you’re handy and know woodworking and all, and no problem making modifications or making parts fit and ensure geometry is correct and all, have at it.

    i was in the same boat very long ago, but I just decided to get Squier/Fender parts instead, so no more thinking and headache on parts not fitting/aligned/drilled correctly.

    [​IMG]Untitled by D Y, on Flickr
     
  5. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Source your pickups on Ebay from China and they'll be about as inexpensive as it gets. Check out Facebook marketplace for locals selling guitars for 50 dollars or less. As far as making a body, you can buy body blanks all glued up and planed on Ebay and rout, and cut/sand with power and hand tools.

    Knotty Pine Universal Barncaster Tele ToneBomb Telecaster Guitar Body | eBayood Blank Barrel DIY Parts Replacement W5F7 721047696109 | eBay[/URL]
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
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  6. naveed211

    naveed211 Friend of Leo's

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    Also was in the partscaster thought process a few years ago. I was gonna go all out on a Squier 50s CV.

    I put a Baja neck on it, and it totally transformed the guitar (and I like the stock necks, but the Baja is maybe my favorite ever).

    I didn’t feel like it needed anything else.

    I’d recommend a loaded CV body, put on one of the necks you already have. Then play it for a while. You may find it’s already pretty awesome. Then you can always tinker down the road if you desire or tastes change.
     
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  7. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    Get TDPRIers to send you stuff they don't want? And donate one of the resulting guitars to a school, or something like that.
     
  8. netgear69

    netgear69 Tele-Afflicted

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    I agree with this i recently stripped down a Danelectro couldn't belive the materials used on the body it looked like MDF & scrap wood out of a skip
     
  9. Anita Bonghit

    Anita Bonghit Tele-Meister

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    There is a person on Ebay that goes by Nomoonlazer. He makes nice bodies, finish is Nitro and they start at $40 and shipping is $20.
     
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  10. peterg

    peterg Tele-Meister

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    I made my first 10 guitar bodies out of pallet wood. Cheap but labour intensive to pry the pallets apart. The average cost per guitar build is around $160 usd. All the parts including necks are from China. Kiash makes decent pickups and Musiclily is a good source for other parts. I’ve spend about $1,200 usd on tools since I started building 1 1/2 years ago. That includes a router, drill and jigsaw. Making my own jigs saved a lot. My workshop is my studio apartment and my spray booth is my balcony. Getting my money back for building guitars is not going to happen but the satisfaction I get from this hobby is worth it. Go for it!
     
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  11. dukewellington

    dukewellington TDPRI Member

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    Rondo Music and GFS are two companies that have good parts for partscasters, including necks and bodies. I have ordered from both many times.

    As with anything else, you’ll have to do a little bit of adjusting to get perfect fit for necks and bodies, as well as dress frets, etc. but the quality is there.

    https://www.rondomusic.com/
    https://www.guitarfetish.com/
     
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  12. jvin248

    jvin248 Doctor of Teleocity

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    .

    Materials in the Danelectro bodies are cheaper but you'll spend more time gluing and cutting.
    Go with a regular Telecaster style solid body, made from pine or poplar. Telecasters are popular with younger indie bands.

    Hard tail designs are best for beginner players -- far less distraction from tuning/whammy dives.

    Use a 'half bridge' instead of a Tele bridge plate -- more flexible pickup choices later. Does not lock the guitar into the Tele vibe, more pickup choices.

    Delete the pickguard, delete the control plate (controls from the back with a simple plastic cover) -- let the wood or paint take center stage.

    Order a set of three Strat style pickups off Ebay (often $10/set) -- Nashville style. Maybe you only use two pickups per guitar like a Duo-sonic.

    Buy MIA-type Pots, switch, and jack -- low cost for the durability. Sort pots by kohm to give you the best tones.

    Use a 4-way switch to get the extra series humbucking tone out of the two pickups -- and advertise it has the extra switching.

    Use shielded cable from the volume pot to the jack to cut down noise. The 1950s did not have computers and cell phones in every player's pocket.


    You could go with one pickup Esquires or like this middle-pickup Strat to cut control parts costs and wiring time.







    At the end of it all ... can you beat a Glarry Guitar with shipping for $75? Or Eart? Or Grote? or ...? The new business models out there have Asian guitar factories selling direct to consumers via Amazon where they pay only a low listing fee not having a retailer double the wholesale cost. Plus they have no brand-owner markup from Squier/Epiphone as the budget price buyer is looking for price only.

    .
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2021
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  13. pypa

    pypa Tele-Holic

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    GFS. Check blemish section.
     
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  14. Bob J

    Bob J Tele-Holic

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    Since there can often be some variability between necks, and if you’re only talking about a few guitars, you may want to partner with someone who is interested in building/finishing bodies who has similar motivation in this project. You don’t say what your larger goal is (provide instruments for a few new players, prototypes for a new business?…), but buying an inexpensive prefinished body that adequately fits a neck you already have is a real craps shoot.
     
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  15. mojah63

    mojah63 TDPRI Member

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    I bought a Grote Tele for the body and put a better neck on it. The neck was totally serviceable on the Grote but I just can't play a 12" radius. Later put some Mojotone copy noiseless pickups in it. Now it's a guitar I can't put down.. My Strats are lonely..
     
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  16. tfarny

    tfarny Poster Extraordinaire

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    You can buy beginner guitars for a hundred bucks these days, no way you can get all the parts individually for that price - for a budget instrument to give away, just buy used Squier affinities etc. and set them up properly, possibly including new nuts and fret work.

    If it's about practicing your own skills, I would recommend not going as cheap as possible. Soft metal screws and parts that strip or don't fit well are just frustrating.
     
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  17. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    The most expensive part of building any guitar is the labor. Time to order materials and shape the body and sand and apply finish. Screwing the neck to the body (not to mention building the neck in the first place), all the figity setup stuff. I don't care if you are building cheap guitars for rank beginners or expensive boutique guitar for the rich and famous, the frets and geometry and setup should be perfect.

    You might put a hundred hours of labor into the cheapest guitar, at minimum wage that is still significant.
     
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  18. RickyRicardo

    RickyRicardo Friend of Leo's

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    I had someone approach me a while back who had a great connection to concert promoters and wanted to build and sell guitars at concerts. He wanted to know how much it would cost to build them within a ceiling of $100. I asked if he cared about quality parts and he said yes. I did a lot of research and could not meet the $100. That was using mostly parts from China and him making the bodies and necks and finishing them. Obviously it fell flat and never happened. He never did understand why it cost more than that and all I told him was "volume".
     
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  19. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I would start with a Monoprice Indio Tele. They go on sale at $80, normally maybe $125, mine is actually really good. The neck is good, not tiny, it frets well, the body and finish are good. I put Tex Mex pickups in mine, just because I had 'em. I bought it as a modding platform, but discovered I dont need to do anything to it!

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0791SX3VX/?tag=tdpri-20
     
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  20. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Building guitars is mostly about the labor that was already mentioned by Freeman, etc. Do it because you want to enjoy the journey. Don't do it because you think you can do it inexpensively...you cannot compete cost wise, even for just parts, with some of the currently available but very playable $100-300 imports that are already build and just need setup.

    One thing you might consider for your project is to obtain existing guitars off FB marketplace, etc., and rehab them for beginners to use. They sometimes come up for pennies on the dollar, as it were, and just need some love. Some are really "cheap" instruments, but good setup can often (not absolute) can get them playable where someone can enjoy them.
     
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