The parts and materials necessary to build an acoustic guitar range from about $300 – $800 depending on what you get.
Students can either source their own material or purchase a complete kit from Eric Schaefer Guitars.
The Eric Schaefer kit is $545 and comes with high quality parts and materials.
Read the following excerpt from the “Materials and Parts” Lesson for more information.
The easiest way to obtain the materials and parts for your guitar is from an online supplier, but if you live near a hardwood supplier that carries instrument grade wood, then it is a worthwhile experience to visit the local supplier and pick through the stacks.
But we’ll talk more about local suppliers later. If this is your first instrument project I recommend that you order online, since you don’t yet know what to look for when picking through the stacks.
Luthier’s Mercantile International, RC Tonewoods and Allied Lutherie are 3 online suppliers that I have had good experiences with. Stewart Macdonald is also a great company which occasionally carries kit parts, but they are primarily a Luthier Tool supplier. We will talk more about them in the “Tools” lesson.
Now, I’ve set up a kit specifically for this course. Keep in mind, when I use the term “kit”, I use it loosely. Often when people refer to instrument kits they are referring to a package in which the neck is pre-carved, the sides are pre-bent, the fretboard is pre-slotted and the plates are joined and sometimes even thicknessed.
Neck carving, side bending, fretboard slotting and joining the plates are all skills that we wish to hone, right? Well, don’t worry! I haven’t taken any of the fun out of this kit! Aside from actually milling and resawing the boards, this is a “from scratch” build. So, the “kit” simply provides you with the raw materials to get started. No pre-fabrication.
- Honduran Mahogany Neck Blank
- Sitka Spruce Top
- Honduran Mahogany Back and Sides
- West African Ebony Fingerboard Blank
- West African Ebony Bridge Blank
- Honduran Mahogany Neck Block
- Honduran Mahogany End Block
- 18% nickel/silver Fretwire
- Bone Nut Blank
- Bone Saddle Blank
- Gotoh Enclosed M6 Style Tuning Keys (Gold)
- Double Action, Welded Nut Truss Rod
- Sitka Spruce Bracewood Billet (3)
- Kerfing Strips (4)
- White ABS Binding Strips (4)
- BWB Purfling Strips
- Ebony Bridge Pins
- Plastic Dot Rod Stock
- White Mother-of-Pearl Shell Dots
- Orchestral Model Plans
To order the kit click here
Read on if you wish to customize your own “kit” from other online sources or purchase from a local supplier.
*It is important to note that I receive no commission or compensation of any kind from your decision to do business with the tonewood suppliers mentioned in this lesson. They are simply suppliers that I have had good experiences with and recommend. There are many more options beyond what I cover here, many of which I have never used, but are in all likelihood fine tonewood suppliers.
Now with that disclaimer out of the way, lets talk about Luthier’s Mercantile and “The Custom Guitar Wizard.”
Hands down, the best online supplier for beginners is Luthier’s Mercantile International (LMI). The website has a special tool called “The Custom Guitar Wizard.” The Wizard works by allowing the user to pick from a list of pre-made guitar kit templates. The user chooses a kit template that is most similar to what the user wants. Then the kit is easily customized by swapping out one wood for another.
Below are some minimum dimensions to aid in customizing your own kit:
- Neck Blank – 35″ x 3″ x 7/8″
- Top – OM size
- Back and Sides – OM size back plates, 33″ length sides
- Fingerboard Blank – 20″ x 2-1/2″ x 5/16″
- Bridge Blank – 6-1/2″ x 1-9/16″ x 7/16″
- Neck Block – 3″ x 4″ x 1-1/4″
- End Block – 5″ x 3″ x 1″
- Fretwire – 4 ft.
- Nut Blank – 1/4″ x 11/32″ x 2-3/16″
- Saddle Blank – 1/8″ x 15/32″ x 3-1/4″
- Truss Rod – 14-1/2″ x 3/8″ (overall length 15-1/2″)
- Bracewood Billet (3)
- Kerfing Strips (4) – 128″ total length
- Binding Strips (4) – 090″ thick x 1/4″ tall x 49″ long
- Bridge Pins – 3 degree
You can also use these dimensions to search on other sites. Again I recommend RC Tonewoods and Allied Lutherie.
Tips on Selecting Soundboards and Back/sides sets:
Avoid figured woods because these make bending significantly more difficult
Even without figured woods, it is often the case that a first time bender will break a side plate before he/she gets it right. So it may be a good idea to order extras and practice on a cheaper side set before bending the real deal. Cracking an expensive set of sides is heartbreaking! RC Tonewoods sells very inexpensive “orphaned” sides.
I find Cherry to be much easier to bend than many other woods
Tips on Visiting a Local Supplier
Call ahead and make sure that they do, in fact, carry instrument grade wood. Most hardwood suppliers do not cater to the guitar making crowd, and you do not want to waste your time at a facility that mills its lumber for hardwood floors or furniture.
Understand that for most hardwood suppliers that do carry it, instrument grade wood makes up a tiny piece of their overall business. Therefore, there is usually only one or two people on their entire staff that understand the particulars of that tiny niche. This is another reason to call ahead. You want to schedule your visit for when the person responsible for that part of the business is available. You don’t want to just show up and purchase something off of the recommendation of someone who doesn’t understand your needs.
Know that your options will likely be more limited than if you ordered online. However, you can select woods that are sourced locally, if that is important to you, and of course, you have the ability to see, touch, smell and even hear (Tap) the wood before you buy it.
Bring measuring tape and your plans. That way you can be sure that the top and back plates are large enough for an “OM” shape.