Cheap guitar build ideas?

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

  1. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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    Whenever I see a sad old guitar at a yard sale I pick it up and do whatever it takes to get it in good playing condition - reset the neck, refret it, patch it back together. If it comes out playable I donate it it to a local student music program. I also do pro bono repairs on the Mexican instruments played by the high school mariachi band. The kids are hard on them and I strongly believe in the program. I get to practice my repair chops and the kids get decent playable instruments.
     
  2. Mike Simpson

    Mike Simpson Doctor of Teleocity

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    Buy a used router and start making your own bodies.... If I can do it, you can do it. That is where the fun and savings start.

    I made this out of a pallet, I also made the control plate and neck plate out of stainless (not polished yet in this pic)

    IMG00167.jpg
     
  3. Randy Jones

    Randy Jones TDPRI Member

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    I had great success with the Tele kit from Thomann. I think it was $75 - if you did zero work and just assembled it with the parts as is, it'd probably take under an hour. From there you can add whatever you want to extend the time and customize it. For example, it's probably a good idea to shape the headstock. I chose to finish it with chalk paint and spray poly. Worked great. Also added a zero glide nut because i wasn't prepared to shape my own. It is a guitar I play out with and I would 100% recommend it.

    Thread about it:
    https://www.tdpri.com/threads/harley-benton-chalk-paint-tele.886190/

    Noticed some pictures missing, so here's one:
    upload_2021-10-14_11-56-39.png
     
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  4. dsutton24

    dsutton24 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I'd haunt the pawn shops looking for Squiers and the like. They can often be had for very little, especially if they're incomplete. Be sure to ask about project guitars, shops often have a collection of oddball stuff they don't know what to do with
     
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  5. old wrench

    old wrench Friend of Leo's

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    What you are proposing to do - put decent and playable low-cost guitars into the hands of folks with a small budget, is a worthy endeavor - but from what I've seen, it's already being done, and on a large scale where the manufacturers can use volume to their advantage.

    There just isn't much profit in the sale of any one individual cheap guitar :).

    I know and have dealt with a guy who deals mostly in used mid-price Fenders and Gibsons and actually makes enough profit to live off, but it's a full-time gig and he turns over lots of guitars.

    His goal is to make 10% off of each sale or trade.

    It also helps that he's fairly financially independent, with an already paid-for home ;).

    .
     
  6. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    My idea of putting a cheap guitar in the hands of young ones. $40-50, roughly.

    [​IMG]

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  7. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes it is work to do but once you get the hang of it there is not much cost to making a guitar. It is fun making these little ones. Come to think of it I should do a lumber yard special solid body. OK, thought about it. I am thinking it terms of a person having the room for a bunch of tools and stuff. May not be the case. But to do cheap guitars I would make jigs to build necks, laminate some 2x6's together for the bodies, while you have the jig out do ten at a time. Most of the time is in the setup, even if just pulling out the jigs and tools.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2021
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  8. Jim_in_PA

    Jim_in_PA Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    The cost to make a guitar includes one's labor, too...
     
  9. FuncleManson

    FuncleManson Tele-Meister

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    I definitely second this. He does mostly Tele bodies, some Jazzmasters, occasionally a Strat. Pine, cedar and Douglas fir. Stained and then a very thin nitro clear coat. Here are a couple projects that I've used his bodies on. The Esquire is a two-piece pine body (3 lb, 13 oz) and the blue one (4 lb, 3 oz) is reclaimed laminated pine. Each cost around $70, including shipping and tax.

    20210221_145923.jpg 20210818_091619.jpg
     
  10. Sax-son

    Sax-son Tele-Afflicted

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    If you want a cheap guitar, just get the Squires or similar ilk. There is no way you can build them yourself for any cheaper. I keep close tabs on my guitar builds and my hardware costs are more than many Squire models out the door.
     
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  11. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Telefied Ad Free Member

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    "Business model"?

    If you really mean making a business of "your own version of a budget guitar", I think you need to detail your business model more to get useful suggestions.
    For making budget guitar bodies to fit a business model, you need to make a lot of them.
    You can buy a body for $35, so keeping your labor say, under one hour per body start to finish?
     
  12. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted

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    I don't see how you can come close to the price of a Glarry or similar brands, even if you had zero cost in the wood. I could see it possible to build something slightly better for about 2X the price or possibly you could buy the Glarry guitars and learn to do a pro setup and provide those; not everyone has internet access or trusts buying online. You could also follow Freeman's idea of picking up second-hand instruments and doing the setup work and provide those at little or no cost. You could build basic bodies at a pretty low cost with minimum investment but you still have to finish them and really the bodies are the cheapest part. Good luck!
     
  13. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Just looked it up, $89 for a guitar is nuts. Not in the US or UK though? I was thinking of doing giveaway guitars, and even the $90 US and shipping makes it not worth it. Time is money if you have lots of money and little time, but if you have lots of time and not a lot of income (say a crusty old retired guy) then building yourself makes sense. Say I want to give away 20-25 guitars, at $100 a pop? I could have made them relatively cheap before wood prices went up and China charged the real price of mail service. (I should have bought a lot more parts). The $45 acoustic guitar was manageable then. Will it last for years especially for a kid? Probably not but if it gets them a few years of practice where they will really keep on playing I would say that is a win. If I get my stuff together I will give it a try.

    Just did a quick look, tuners $25, $11 bridge, truss rod $10, $7 pickup, $3 pots, jack with plate, $6. So $60 without building the thing yet. Hard to justify it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2021
  14. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    You can get 6 tuners on ebay for 9+ dollars shipped from Japan if you wanted to go that route. You can get a 3 dollar jack and make a plate out of pickguard waste or get a 40 cent jack in a 10 pack for 4.00 from china. Glarry quality no doubt. :). A black strat single coil shipped is still less than 5 dollars. Still not as cheap as it was, but still cheap.









    tuners.png
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2021
  15. printer2

    printer2 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Free shipping to the US, $5.00 US added shipping to Canada. Still not bad for a set, I have used the same type before. Yes, I do make my own plate for the jack. The shipping is really the thing that changed here, don't know why you guys still get the break.
     
  16. Full-Tilt-Tele

    Full-Tilt-Tele Tele-Meister

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    Same inspiration came to me too, my S/B Tele's come from the local construction 'Waste Bin' sights, when I find some scraps of Yellow Southern Pine 2 X 8. Love the dramatic contrast when I 'Roast' the
    surface.

    IMG_20211013_204139.jpg
     
  17. medownsouth

    medownsouth Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    for bodies: nomoonlaser
    for neck: howell guitar

    both on eBay.

    The rest of the parts should be cheap to source from aliexpress.
     
  18. Arfage

    Arfage Tele-Meister

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    I've been using Musikraft necks and Warmoth bodies, but I just wasn't in the mood for the huge wait - and price. I got one each Allparts and WD necks; VERY nice. Both have 12" radius and big frets, better quality wood than that famous maker in Washington. You have to drill your own holes and you don't get to choose every feature but these are great necks.
     
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  19. Arfage

    Arfage Tele-Meister

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    Try Dragonfire pickups from eBay. A shop in Oregon has them. I have a fantastic set in my parts tele. Wilkinson all steel bridges too. Both tele and strat. Great price and as good as anything out there.
     
  20. Danb541

    Danb541 Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I see many comments recommend GFS. I also see you're in California. GFS (Florida) will drill you on shipping, they pad the shipping big time. In addition, if you buy anything they sell that is made out of wood you're taking a risk. Definitely don't buy one of the cheaper import bodies, they are total junk. You might as well light your money on fire. Sure, you can spend hours making a body like this work but it will never be right. If you must buy from GFS get one of the XGP bodies and cross your fingers you get a good one.

    I've bought three pine tele bodies from this Ebay seller. $72.00 shipped. Spec wise they have all been good. I understand you don't want to do finish work. Just get a can of amber shellac and brush it on, done deal. The knots look cool.

    http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-5...0001&campid=5338148343&icep_item=124648340378
     
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