Guitar Building

Sara Sanders chisels out the neck pocket of her custom guitar body

How to Design and Build a Custom Electric Guitar

Building tools for self expression

I developed this class as a one week summer camp for our SkillSet program and for a course I took in my masters program (Teaching Undergraduate Engineering). I developed a process and workflow to be able to guide middle and high school girls in the design and creation of their own custom electric guitars. I intend to adapt the class for a first year seminar at UNCA. I wrote an instruction manual that walks students through the process from conceptualizing the design using cardboard, to digitizing that design for 3D modeling and ultimately to cutting the body and pickguard using our CNC router and waterjet respectively. The students use hand tools to customize their headstock, create a perfect finish ready for painting, and learn about the electric circuits and the electromagnetism involved. On the last day, they solder the circuits, string the guitar and plug it in. 

Music is a form of self expression, it’s a way to have a voice and to be heard. I developed this project with the goal of giving participants full control of their creative process by giving them the resources to build their tool for self expression.