The FretWire 175 Jazz guitar kit is our pick for the best DIY guitar kit, which can be added with your own finish. The body has already been drilled beforehand and it comes with all the needed hardware.
Our step-up pick is the Solo ES Style guitar kit and it has a maple top with a nice wood cutting. The hollow body makes it unique and it comes with a user’s manual for you to follow.
The budget pick is the Electric Kits Stratcaster and it has a basswood body and comes with a pick guard as well. It has a maple fingerboard and can be made into a DIY electric guitar.
- 1 A Little Background
- 2 How we Picked
- 3 Our Pick
- 4 Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
- 5 Step-up Pick
- 6 Budget Pick
- 7 Best DIY Guitar Kits with a Tele Style
- 8 Best DIY Guitar Kits with Volume Knobs
- 9 Best DIY Guitar Kits with a Lap Design
- 10 Best DIY Guitar Kits with a Tune-O-Matic Bridge
- 11 Best DIY Guitar Kits with a Maple Neck
- 12 Best DIY Guitar Kits with a Rosewood Fingerboard
- 13 Best DIY Guitar Kits with Basswood Fingerboard
- 14 The Competition
- 15 Other Frequently Asked Questions
A Little Background
The best DIY guitar kits are popular nowadays for those who own a guitar. They are basically a do it yourself version of a guitar, in which you can assemble everything together. If you have background in sound engineering or acoustics, you will be able to do this thing in no time without a fuss.
When you build your own guitar, do know that there are many kinds of strings out there. If you find that your hands often get sore or wounded with steel string, you can just switch to nylon easily. It really depends on your comfort level on where you intend to work with, whether it’s nylon or steel string, it is all up to you.
Design can also play a role. People with shorter fingers may have trouble with holding the neck and fingerboard of classic guitars due to its width. With that said, there are still some techniques that beginners can employ so they can be able to hold onto each chord even if the neck is wide. Anyway, the ease of plucking or strumming nylon also makes up for its disadvantage of a wider neck.
How we Picked
For the best DIY guitar kits for your needs, here are some of our criteria:
Frets: Higher numbers of frets can help you to make solo leads on a higher octave or scale, which can be useful for performances and recording as well.
Materials for the body: You should know and be aware that different wood species can make a difference in the overall sound that is produced by your instrument.
Fretboard material: this refers to the materials that are used to make the fretboard, such as maple or rosewood.
Type of guitar: The type of guitar can also matter. For example, if you want an acoustic type or whether you want a DIY electric guitar kit or classical one, you should be clear about it.
Guitar bridge system: this refers to the bridge part or the end part of the strings where they are tied onto. The bridge system can be any of the following: adjustable, Floyd Rose, tremolo, fixed or tune-o-matic, depending on your preferences.
Genre of music: You should also consider the genre of music that you would like to play in considering your type of guitar.
Instructions: Consider a pack or kit that comes with instructions so that you will be able to build it with ease. This is especially true for those who do not have a lot of experience with guitar building and it is their first time.
Number of guitar strings: The number of strings define what kind of guitar that you will have and the sounds that it will be able to produce.
Hand orientation: You should know who will use the guitar so that you can decide whether you want a left-handed, right-handed or ambidextrous type for the hand orientation.
As our top pick, the FretWire 175 Jazz comes pre-drilled with its main body. It has f-holes due to being a hollow style guitar that is made for jazz. You can also add your preferred finish or paint. It has an HH pickup configuration, a trapeze bridge system and has a sharp angle for the cutaway. It is great for rockabilly genres.
Flaws but Not Dealbrakers
The only known con with the FretWire 175 Jazz that is not a big deal is that the neck has inlays that aren’t that good, but you can fix that with some DIY kit.
The Solo ES Style guitar kit is our step-up pick, which comes with all the hardware needed and comes with a user’s manual. It has a flamed maple top and is an electric guitar. It has been sealed in poly resin so you can also add your own choice of finish. Its neck is a set neck for ease of installation for the instrument.
The Electric Kits Stratcaster is our budget pick, which is also an electric guitar and comes with a white pickguard. The body is made with basswood that is unpolished. It is also a set that comes with all the electronic parts and also comes with the pick guard. The basswood body is unpolished so you can add your own polish to it.
Best DIY Guitar Kits with a Tele Style
The Seismic Audio SADIYG-02 has a Tele style design and it is made with Paulownia for its body (solid) composition. Rosewood makes up the fretboard. It has a bolt-on maple neck and it has pearloid dot inlays for better durability against rough plays. It also has no finish si you can add your own finish later.
Best DIY Guitar Kits with Volume Knobs
The Yibuy Maple HSH is made with maple for the neck and basswood for the body. It has volume knobs and holes that have been pre-drilled. You can give it as a gift to someone who likes making their own instruments. The bridge system is fixed and the pickup is a magnetic combination. It is a 6-string standard guitar.
Best DIY Guitar Kits with a Lap Design
The C.B. Gitty 2×4 has a lap design and you can provide the 2×4 easily. It can be used for country music, jazz and various genres. You can definitely use it for Hawaiian music as well and it comes with all of the instruments needed for building. It has Nashville C6 and Open E Blues for the included sets of strings.
Best DIY Guitar Kits with a Tune-O-Matic Bridge
The LP P90 Build has a tune-o-matic bridge style guitar kit and you can also add your own choice of finish. It comes with a pre-drilled body and all the necessary hardware to put together. It has a P90 pickup configuration while it is a standard 6-string guitar. It is also unfinished so you can add your own.
Best DIY Guitar Kits with a Maple Neck
The Saga TC-10 has a neck made of maple and a body made of basswood and is solid. It comes with hardware made from heavy nickel plating for durability. The peghead shape makes it ideal for instrument building. It comes with an instruction manual and has a truss rod for adjustability as well. It requires no soldering at all.
Best DIY Guitar Kits with a Rosewood Fingerboard
The MUSOO PROJECT P90 has a fingerboard that is made with rosewood for durability and good sound. Maple veneer and mahogany are both used for the body. It has a scale of 24.75 and it has a set in neck style. If you want something with a P90 style pickup then this is the one you should try to put together.
Best DIY Guitar Kits with Basswood Fingerboard
For a good fingerboard made of basswood, we recommend you to check out the Yibuy Basswood MM1-F. It is made with a solid maple neck as well and all of the turning knobs or pegs on the headstock are working properly. The easy action makes it ideal for beginners at DIY instrument making.
Others who did not make it to our list were lacking in sufficient materials and also did not have clear instructions on how to build your own guitar. It should be friendly towards the user in terms of instructions and should have all the things you need to assemble it.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the benefits of coated strings?
Coated strings are the best for areas with corrosion threats and also for added appeal to your audience, or to the design of your stringed musical instrument. Here are the best benefits of coated strings:
|It protects against skin debris.||You shred often and debris also get shredded onto your strings, making the tone quality decreased from time to time, thus leading to lack of tones. Protection against this kind of debris is what coating does.|
|Your strings also get protection against dirt.||Aside from skin debris, you can also protect it from dirt and other kinds of harmful irritants that may ruin the luster and tone quality of your strings.|
|It can last longer than uncoated ones.||Because it has been coated, the need to change it often will significantly decrease. You will also need to spend less money in the long run.|
Q: What are the different tensions of strings?
A: The tension is important so that you will know if your string will be a good match to your stringed musical instrument, and can be characterized by the following:
- Low tension – Also called the light tension string, it gives the note more thickness and body, but may also make the frets buzz in an unnecessary way.
- Mid tension – It is sometimes called the medium tension string and is balanced for its tension and levels.
- High tension – It may potentially break older instruments with fragile necks and bridges, however, and they can be hard to fret. They are ideal for adding a better rhythm to your music, nonetheless.
In addition to that, here is a chart that contains all the different tensions for an average stringed musical instrument:
|Tension||17.5 lbs||19.5 lbs||18.4 lbs||16.6 lbs||15.4 lbs||16.2 lbs|
Q: What are the pros and cons of building your own stringed musical instrument?
A: Having a stringed musical instrument is one thing but buying it is another story. Building it, however, is something that may either be enjoyable or troublesome. Here are the pros and cons of building your own stringed musical instrument:
|Build Your Own Guitar (DIY Kits)|
|a. You can customize the whole thing to whatever you want.
b. You can choose your own materials to satisfy your needs.
c. It is a new experience that you can be proud of.
d. It can be a new hobby that can eventually turn into a business.
e. It challenges you both as a musician and as an aspiring sound engineer.
|a. There is a learning curve, so don’t expect to learn everything overnight.
b. It takes a lot of time so you should have some schedule reserved for it.
c. You need to work hard in order to achieve the result of a great sounding stringed musical instrument.
d. The cost can be hefty because you have to provide the materials yourself, compared to just buying a model from the store.
e. There can be errors in your design or build.
Q: What are the different parts of this instrument and how important are they?
A: First off, different stringed musical instruments have different parts, but there are general parts, such as the following:
|Headstock||The headstock is the part of the instrument where you tune your tuning pegs and where the strings are attached onto.|
|Tuning pegs||The pegs are the knobs that you turn to tune your stringed musical instrument strings properly, so that you can get a precise tone from them.|
|Nut||The nut is a raised line or platform that divides the headstock and the neck.|
|Fret||Frets are found on the fingerboard and are laid out for you to make chords out of and create music. They are all significantly and properly spaced.|
|Neck||The neck is what holds the fingerboard and the frets together, and what you typically hold onto when playing your stringed musical instrument.|
|Fingerboard||The fingerboard or fretboard is numbered from 0 (open) from the top part to the highest number to the bottom, usually 22 for some stringed musical instruments, depending on the length of the fretboard itself.|
|Dot markers||The dot markers help you identify which key or chord family you will be doing, which is helpful for beginners.|
|Bridge||The bridge helps to keep the strings stable and not going elsewhere.|
|Body||The body is the whole case of the stringed musical instrument that produces acoustic or sometimes electric sounds. It is made of wood material.|
|Saddle||The saddle is where the bridge has been built on.|
|Strings||The strings have a standard tuning of E A D G B E, numbered 6 (thickest) to 1 (thinnest) respectively.|
|End pins or bridge pins||The end pins are the parts that you tie your strings onto.|
Now, let’s have a look at the parts that are exclusive to the acoustic stringed musical instrument:
|Sound hole||The sound hole is the big hole in the middle in which the string’s vibrations are converted into sound due to the principle of acoustics.|
|Stringed musical instrument top or sounding board||This is the part of the stringed musical instrument that acts like a bridge, in which the strings get their vibration so that it will produce music or sounds.|
|Bridge pin||The bridge pins are those that hold the strings on the bottom part of the stringed musical instrument.|
Meanwhile, electric stringed musical instruments have the following exclusive parts:
|Pickup||The pickup helps amplify your sounds and converts it into electrical signals to an amplifier.|
|Pickup selector||It lets you select from the two standard pickups on an electric stringed musical instrument.|
|Tone knob||The tone knob dictates how much you want to change the tone or pitch of the said instrument.|
|Volume knob||The volume dictates how loud or how soft the volume of the stringed musical instrument sounds will be.|
|Output jack||This lets you connect onto a headphone or earphone for quiet practice.|
|Tremolo bar, vibrato bar or whammy bar||They manipulate the vibration of the strings so that you can make the stringed musical instrument “sing” like a real person with altered pitch at the end of a long note.|
Q: Which famous stringed musical instruments would be the best for a certain genre of music?
A: Music is a vast world, and different stringed musical instruments can actually work for certain types or genres of music. There are prominent or famous stringed musical instrument models that are mostly used for different music genres, such as the following:
|Type or model of stringed musical instrument||Genre of music|
|Full hollow body||Great for jazz, warm sounding genres and fast tempo songs.|
|Telecaster||The telecaster is great for country and other songs that might need the “twang” sound.|
|Stratocaster||Great for rock ‘n roll and many other related genres.|
|Lap steel stringed musical instrument||This one is associated with Hawaiian sounds and it also has a sliding and twang sound that is perfect for such genres of music.|
|Semi-acoustic stringed musical instrument||They can be used for jazz and also on almost all genres, such as punk and rockabilly.|
|Les Paul||Great for jazz, rock and blues, it is more commonly found for blues and sometimes pop music.|
Q: Which wood type is the best for my stringed musical instrument?
A: In going for a DIY stringed musical instrument or just buying one, the choice of wood material is important. Here are the different kinds of wood materials and their properties.
|Type of wood or specie||Part of the stringed musical instrument||Sound qualities|
|Mahogany||Body (stringed musical instrument and bass)||Warm timbre, balanced sound|
|Maple||Body, neck||Bright sound, good sustain, amplification|
|Basswood||Body||Mid range amplification, warm sound, sustain|
|Alder||Body, lightweight parts||Has a good high range and it is also warm on its sound|
|Swamp ash||Body and lightweight parts||Has a good mid range, sustain, highs, bass tones and the like|
|Korina||Body||Warm sound, good sustain and great balance|
|Japanese Ash||Body||Sustain is good, bass is well-defined and has good high range sounds|
|Rosewood||Fretboard||Dark tones and open sound|
Q: What are the different body shapes of a stringed musical instrument?
A: The stringed musical instrument can come in a wide variety of shapes, such as the following:
- Dreadnaught – this one has a standard look, with even and symmetrical curves on both side. Both the top curves are smaller than the bottom curves, and this is what you would expect the stringed musical instrument to look like, especially the acoustic stringed musical instrument.
- Parlour – they are usually smaller than the dreadnaught, despite bearing a similar shape. There are holes on the top part where the tuning pegs are located, and they are also usually lightweight in terms of design and wood construction.
- Jumbo – a large sized stringed musical instrument, this one is usually found on expensive to middle priced ones. They have a slight under curve on the top on one side only and even curves at the bottom. It is mostly used for rhythm playing.
- Round shoulder dreadnaught – it is similar to the dreadnaught but it has a warmer tone and is great for keeping durability at hand. There is little difference, except a more rounded design for it.
- Auditorium – a cross between a parlour type and a dreadnaught, it is also called the 000 shaped stringed musical instrument. The bottom end is quite large and straighter at the bottom.
- Grand auditorium – this one has a shape that is similar to the jumbo style, but smaller. It is great for pop music and it has different bottom side as well. The holes on the top is much like the parlour type.
- Classical stringed musical instrument – this one has a wider neck and has a smaller shape than a regular acoustic stringed musical instrument that has steel strings. Classical stringed musical instruments have nylon strings instead of steel.
- Small body – this one is usually the best for backpacking and for touring. If you like to travel a lot, this is a great stringed musical instrument to have with you.
Q: What are the different kinds of bridge for this kind of instrument?
A: The stringed musical instrument has a bridge, which is the part that connects the strings from the top to the bottom and keeps them settled and not out of place. There are actually many kinds of string holding bridges out there, such as the following systems:
|Hardtail fixed||This one has a basic design and is found on most telecaster stringed musical instruments and Stratocaster stringed musical instruments as well. It is meant for beginners due to the fixed design.|
|Tune-o-matic||This kind of bridge is found on most Les Paul stringed musical instruments and comes with a stop bar on its tail piece. It has a good design but is also fixed like the first type.|
|Synchronized tremolo||This one is ideal for those who like to go for a vintage sound. The world “tremolo” was actually a mistake name for this, it should be called “vibrato” because it changes the pitch rather than the volume of your melody or note.|
|Whammy bar||This one has a construction in which the string tension can be manipulated. It is great for both beginners and intermediate stringed musical instrument players.|
|Floyd Rose||It is a customizable bridge with a solid design and a string tension manipulator as well. It may take a while to learn how to use it, as it may not be ideal for beginners in stringed musical instrument.|
|Ibanez||This is found on most Ibanez designed stringed musical instruments and has a double locking design that is quite similar to the Floyd Rose.|
|Kahler||This one is famous for its tremolo style design and is used for 80s music. Today, some of them are still used.|
|Wilkinson||The synchronized tremolo similarity is profound but with 2 points with its design and includes a roller nut and some locking tuners.|
|Bigsby||Ideally found on semi-hollow and hollow stringed musical instruments, this one is ideal for its vintage sound and design. It makes a good vibrato that is simple to pull through.|
Q: What are the three types of neck profiles for stringed musical instruments?
A: The neck is the part of the stringed musical instrument that holds the fingerboard or fretboard, in which you hold onto so that you can perform and lay down your chords to make rhythm or a key lead. A stringed musical instrument can have a different neck profile, such as the following:
- U-shaped – the profile of this type of neck is ideally made for those with large hands. The design can come in various shapes depending on the era of choice, such as the 70s, 60s or 50s. It is also a common type of neck profile that you will most likely find in a Telecaster style stringed musical instrument.
- V-shaped – this one has a design that lets your thumb hang on to the fingerboard’s edge. They can be seen in most vintage and old school style stringed musical instruments and yet they can still appear in some new ones today. There are also two subtypes of this kind of shape – the soft one and the hard ones.
- C-shaped – also called the round shape, it is ideally seen in so many kinds of stringed musical instruments, such as the Stratocaster and Fender. It is also known as the flat oval type and is very good for most beginners and those with smaller hands or otherwise cannot easily use the U-shape and V-shape profiles with ease.
Q: Is there a difference between tremolo and vibrato?
A: In learning stringed musical instrument, most people interchange the two terms and they often get confused. Take note that vibrato and tremolo are two different things. Even if it is a “tremolo bar”, it actually does the job of putting “vibrato” onto your music (blame the creator of the system for this). Here are their differences:
Tremolo – this means a constant change or modulation of the volume or loudness of the musical instrument or sound source. In singing, it is used by singers to make their end long note more subtle and gentle instead of flat and boring.
Vibrato – this means a constant change or modulation of the pitch or key of the musical instrument or sound source. In singing, it is used to intensify the end of the long note to make it more dramatic.
Both tremolos and vibratos work in the same way – in a waveform. It can be soft or harsh, and it will usually be seen in music production when you record your stringed musical instrument sounds. Different waveforms of modulation can be used, such as any of the following:
|Triangle – has a sharp sound||/\/\/\/\/\/\|
|Square – has a very sharp sound||_|¯|_|¯|_|¯|_|
|Sine – has a softer sound||_/¯¯\__/¯¯\__/¯¯\_|
|Half triangle – has a slightly sharp sound|||\_|\_|\_|\_|
Q: What kinds of wood materials are used for the fretboard?
A: In order to make the stringed musical instrument sound anything, you should use the fretboard, which is made up of any of the following board materials:
- Rosewood – it has a good, soft tone and it is also considerably warm. Rosewood is also the most common type of fretboard material due to its popularity and ease of obtaining.
- Maple – this is another kind of stringed musical instrument material for the fretboard. It has a good appearance for those with dark colored stringed musical instrument bodies. It has a vintage feel and it has a tighter and a brighter tone.
- Ebony – for fretboards, this one is a great choice because it does not have a sticky feel and is ideal for advanced players who like to do things fast. It gives a crisp and snappy sound with good response.
Q: What are the major difference between a classic stringed musical instrument and an acoustic stringed musical instrument?
A: Both the classic and the acoustic stringed musical instrument have always been a source of debate and confusion due to their quite similar looks. Here are some of the major difference that can potentially help you identify which is which in a gig, in a shop or over your friend’s house:
|Criteria||Acoustic stringed musical instrument||Classical stringed musical instrument|
|Truss rod||Acoustic stringed musical instruments have a truss rod, which is located in the part of the neck, and can be adjusted.||Classical stringed musical instruments have no truss rod, which sets them apart with acoustic stringed musical instruments.|
|Strings||Acoustic types use metal or steel in their strings, or some sort of alloy, so they can be painful to use for beginners to the scene.||Nylon is used by classical stringed musical instruments, which makes them unique and more mellow sounding, and easier to play.|
|Headstock||The headstock of the acoustic stringed musical instrument is solidly built.||The headstock of the classical type has cutouts in design.|
|Neck||The neck of the acoustic stringed musical instrument is narrower, so it is more accommodating for small hands.||It may not be suitable for small hands because the neck can be too wide for them.|
|Tone||The tone is usually on a higher frequency and is crisp and clear.||The tone is usually on the middle frequency, being soft and mellow.|
Wrapping It Up
As a whole, we want to choose the FretWire 175 Jazz as our pick for the best DIY guitar kit due to the ease of assembly, the inclusion of all hardware that is needed, the pre-drilling of most of the parts and the fact that you can add your own finishing so that you can customize it to your needs.