Aug 2, 2016

Building a Guitar Body from Plywood, part I of III

Plywood gets a lot of flak in the guitar tone world, but shouldn't be neglected - for one, it's easier to work with more readily available, and much much cheaper than fine tonewoods, making it perfect for the amateur luthier (raises own hand).  Second, Gibson has been making fine sounding guitars, particularly hollow bodies, out of plywood for decades and no one complains.  The tone is better if you call it "laminate".

I'll walk you through how I built my first guitar body from plywood, my first guitar body at all, and let you know what worked and what didn't.

Step 1: acquire fine tonewood whatever works.  Plywood works, while the wood is generally lower quality, it is often just thin pieces of the same kinds of wood used in more expensive guitars glued together.  MDF... might work, but I'd imagine it's very tonally dead because it's basically dust held together by glue, and not very structurally sound either.

First you'll need to decide on a design, and use a template if you choose.  Since it's cheap you could just draw your design freehand if you like.  I chose to go with a Les Paul design, but very slightly scaled down to fit the wood I had to work with.

Cut as many rough boards as you will need - the plywood I had on hand was 1/2" thick, and going for an extra-thick Les Paul design I used five boards.

Carefully stack your boards together and clamp (or screw them) together for sawing.  If you are making a solid body, you can glue and clamp them together before cutting.  This will give you cleaner lines at the end and be easier to work with.  Me, I wanted a semi hollow body, so I opted to saw them separate then reassemble and glue later.

I used a jigsaw - this was barely adequate given the condition the jigsaw was in and the 2.5" thickness of the boards.  Whatever you have that works, use it!

Now we have all the body boards cut, big progress!

At this time I also went ahead and cleaned off some of the hardware I had - this old golden Japanese Tune-O-Matic style bridge was just what I needed, but looking a little rough.  I disassembled it then cleaned it up/sanded it down with a green Scotch Brite pad.  This took off the gold from the top parts, and left it inside, for a cool two-tone look that I like for this build.

Next post, I'll show you how I routed the chambering inside the guitar, assembled and prepped it for painting.  Painting is in progress right now and hopefully will turn out great!

1 comment :

  1. Very nice article, I enjoyed reading your post, very nice share, I want to twit this to my followers. Thanks!.


Questions, comments, concerns, complaints? Leave your thoughts below!