How hard is it to put together a guitar?


Junior Member
My guitar has become very expensive, which is fine - I'm going to have this thing for life. However, I'm paying about 200 US for the luthier, and thinking I could do it my self? Would save some money and would surely be a lot of fun. All the holes will be drilled (warmoth can drill all holes needed, right?), I will just have to install everything and the pickups. How hard is doing all that? Any books/sites you would reccomend? I have never installed pickups or anything my self, so am just wondering. What is the margin for error? I mean, can I really ruin something if it is screwed in wrong etc?


(I'm sorry I post so much on this forum)
Can you hold a screwdriver?
Can you hold a soldering iron?

if so, you can assemble a guitar..

if you are not too experienced on setting up a guitar, you can just put it together, so that you can at least play it, and then send it to the guitar tech to finish it off for about $50..
that is the way I did it for my first project.

* Ok, one more edit:
some things you may want to keep in mind:
- make sure to drill the holes correctly for your tuners (depending on the type of tuners you buy) they could end up out of wack a little
- use tape when drilling holes for the pickguard/cover/p/u rings/string tree... you don't want to slip or crack the finish
- cover up the body and try not to drip on or hit the finish with your hot soldering iron.
- if you have ordered a contoured heel, pay close attention on which screw you use for which hole!!
I was uncomfortable with Soldering myself at first, but there are so many clear wiring diagrams available on-line. also, make sure you have a good hot iron at all times.
This is actually becoming something I WANT to do. What do you mean by "finish off"? Also, how much am I going to be drilling? :S
with finishing it off, I meant the final set-up, including truss-rod adjustment, minor fret dressing, intonation, etc.

Try to find a book by Dan Erlewine on Guitar set-up on amazon.. he has written several that helped me a lot.
The hard part is setting up the nut and frets... I had a pro do that for me.  And don't worry about posting too much, look at my freaking post count and I've only built one Warmoth!!
juliancs, warmoth will NOT drill the various little holes for you, for instance tuner screw holes, strap button holes and jack plate screw holes. You'll need a drill and a few small bits. Take it very slowly, making sure that each hole you drill is the right thing to do. Practice on some scrap hardwood if you're not sure, for instance what size hole you need for a screw hole. I broke off a screw in my first warmoth because I didn't drill one of the string tree screw holes deep enough. I was able to mostly cover it up, by placing the string tree just above the screw up but it's still a 'blemish' you can see if you look for it. Since you seem to be almost fanatically picky about stuff like the top matching, I'd recommend that you, in particular, take it to a competent tech. Another option, like I mentioned before, is to spend that $200 on a total crap guitar (chinese squire start or tele in particular) and some replacement parts, and upgrade it while educating yourself. Strip and reassemble it at the least. Doing some mod like upgrading the pickups and tuners on a beater guitar would be money well-spent. Better that, than having the first hole you ever drill be into a $2000 log.
Referencing the Nut, you can pay Warmoth to install it for you.  Thats what I did on the my build (first) that I am currently waiting on. 
Or buy a pre-cut graph-tec nut from stewmac or somewhere like that.  I've used them 3 times and they have turned out great!  The only downside is that they are black, if you are going for a true vintage look.
tfarny said:
juliancs, warmoth will NOT drill the various little holes for you, for instance tuner screw holes, ....
It says here they do, or am I misunderstanding something? (Probably the case...). I think I will get the luthier to do it all after all. Next year I'll order a clearance body and neck and work on that. I am past the 2K mark now and I don't want to mess it up :).

I'll get a book and start reading it. I'm sure its much more satisfying to put it together yourself? I will also ask the luthier if I can come and watch him while he does it, from a curious perspective...

Some types of tuner have a little screw that you need to drill a little hole for.  Warmoth drills the big holes in the neck for you depending on the tuners you plan to use, but they don't drill the pilot holes for the tiny screws. - - the bottom right of each tuner

I am past the 2K mark now and I don't want to mess it up

I know how you feel. I'm sure I could handle most of putting mine together but I really don't have a good work space. I plan to put together my next one which will be much less expensive and more of a beater guitar.
Ah I have to go with the Gotoh tuners if I'm going witht he 510 bridge? Are those PWs any good?

Seriously no offense, but based on the fact that you asked that last question you should probably have someone else put it together.  It is really easy, though - maybe someone here is in your area and can help you.  I think it's kind of fun.
juliancs said:
Ah I have to go with the Gotoh tuners if I'm going witht he 510 bridge? Are those PWs any good?


The tuner brand and bridge brand are not dependent on each other. You can get any kind of tuners you want.

I went with Planet Waves tuners for my LP. I have no opinion on them yet. I've noticed some people love them, other say they're crap. It's like anything else, there are wildly varying opinions. I took a chance on them because I heard enough good thing about them.
You need to take some guitars apart before you put one together. You need to make some mistakes on pawn shop junkers and do some stupid experiments ("I wonder how a jazz bass pickup sounds like in a tele?") There's nothing terribly complicated about putting together a guitar, but you need confidence. Once you've got that, things like replacing pickups become as easy as changing strings.

For your first build, you should probably have a pro put it together. That will give you a baseline expectation for future builds.
My first experience was with a Saga strat kit, and I really did learn a lot from that.  Plus I got a mediocre guitar for $100.
I think because of the amount I am spending on this guitar, I'll spend the extra to get a pro to put it together. When I have some more money :)() I'll buy a cheap strat body + neck from the "these have to go" section, and fiddle with that.  :cool01: