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The Cost To Make a Guitar (And Is It Worth It?)

To make a guitar, it costs $300 for an acoustic guitar and $650 for an electric guitar. However, you can increase or decrease the cost based on the materials, quality, and where you got them from. Guitar kits can be as low as $100, but you can also spend over $1,000 on any DIY guitar build.

In this post, I’ll cover a cost breakdown of building guitars, whether or not it’s worth it, and what skills you need.

A man making a guitar

How Much Would It Cost to Build an Acoustic Guitar?

It costs between $100 to $1,000 or more to build an acoustic guitar, but they average around $300. You’ll save a lot of money by using a DIY guitar kit. However, you’ll need to factor in the shipping costs and the price of each tool outside of these estimates. You’ll also have to increase the price if you want unique designs and rare paints.

The wood is undoubtedly the most expensive material, making up around $60 to $100 of the construction cost. However, the small parts (truss rod, nut, strings, etc.) are quite inexpensive. You’ll have to pay more if you want high-quality wood since it’s treated for extreme temperatures and moisture.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking to save money, consider spending less on the tuning pegs and strings. They can be replaced later, and they’re not as permanent as the fretboard, body, and neck. You can also replace the bridge, saddle, and nut, but they have a very direct effect on the guitar’s intonation.

How Much Does It Cost to Build an Electric Guitar?

It costs anywhere from $150 to $1,000 or more to build an electric guitar, but they’re typically about $650. Electric guitars cost more to build compared to acoustic guitars because they have several electrical components, and they often require more wood. Keep in mind that DIY electric guitar kits are heavier, which means they have higher shipping costs.

A man making an electric guitar

It is recommended that you find a third-party service that breaks down old guitars for parts. You can use parts from high-end guitars for a fraction of the price. This method will let you save time and money from planing and sanding the headstock or fretboard. However, I recommend building your own guitar body since it’s the most creative part of the process.

Note: These prices are estimates and are subject to change due to local material costs, shipping prices, etc.

How Long Does It Take to Build a Guitar?

It takes between one week to six months or more to build a guitar. There are many things that can influence the building process, including shipping time, budget, required materials, and more. Rushing the process will undoubtedly increase the likelihood of making mistakes, so make sure you take your time when building the instrument.

So, how much time should you put aside to build a guitar? Ask yourself these questions.

  • Where are you getting the materials? If you’re getting them at a local store, you won’t have to worry about shipping times. Ordering parts from across the country or a different part of the world can increase the building time by quite a bit. You’ll have to wait even longer for hand-carved parts.
  • Do you have the necessary tools? You’ll need sanders, planers, drills, wood glue, paint, and so on. If you don’t have these tools, you’ll have to wait a while to gather all of them. I recommend keeping your building project in one room to have everything ready to go and to shorten the building process.
  • Are you ordering a guitar kit or building everything from scratch? Guitar kits have everything cut and shaped for you. All you have to do is glue everything together and construct the guitar at your own pace. However, building everything will make it take many more weeks.
  • How are you setting a budget? Those who can afford everything at once won’t have to wait as long. If you can fork out your whole guitar budget in one go, you can get the tools, materials, and parts together in less than a week. However, it’s not a rush. Take your time and build each part with precision.
  • Are you building an electric guitar or an acoustic guitar? Acoustic guitars require a lot more effort, skill, and time. You have to shape each piece of wood and curve the hollow body while attaching it to the upper and lower slabs. Building an electric guitar will take significantly less time in most cases.

The popular guitar brand Martin takes as little as three weeks per guitar. However, they use machines for part of the process, creating several hundred guitars daily. It’s important to remember that your skillset drastically impacts the building schedule.

What Skills Do You Need to Build a Guitar at Home?

To build a guitar at home, you need skills such as wood carving, painting, and fret placement. You should also know how to install and wire the electrical components (i.e., the pickup and built-in tuner). It’s also important to know where every part of the guitar goes, so you’ll need in-depth knowledge of the instrument.

Let’s analyze each of these skills below.

  • Wood carving: Unless you buy a guitar kit, you’ll need to be able to use a sander and many other woodworking tools. You’ll have to cut the body of the guitar out of numerous pieces of wood glued together or from a solid piece of wood (depending on your preferred method). Most people cut several slabs of wood and glue them for maximum support.
  • Painting: After cutting and constructing the body, neck, and headstock, you’ll need to paint everything. Finish the neck with oil, then paint the body and the headstock (if desired). These skills make your guitar look and feel unique. This is the time to add unique patterns and color schemes.
  • Fret placement: Guitar frets are wider near the headstock. They need to be leveled and mounted correctly. This skill also transfers to the nut, bridge, pins, saddle, and tuning pegs. Failure to keep all of these parts aligned keeps the strings from being aligned, which means the guitar will have intonation problems.
  • Electrical work: While you don’t always need electrical skills to build an acoustic guitar, they’re absolutely necessary for electric guitars. You could also wire an acoustic guitar to have a pickup if you wanted to plug it into an amp or an audio interface. These components convert the guitar’s vibrations into digital signals for speakers.
  • Guitar knowledge: Having expansive knowledge of guitars will help you will each skill listed above. It’ll also assist you in choosing the right materials and parts. All guitars need several components to keep them in tune and adjustable. Choosing the wrong parts for the guitar will alter everything.

Is It Worth It to Build a Guitar?

It’s worth it to build a guitar if you have the necessary skills, time, and money. Building a guitar can cost more or less than buying a premade instrument, so it’s important to know if you prefer the customizations. Making your guitar undoubtedly adds unique characteristics that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Here’s why you should consider building a guitar:

  • You can build a custom guitar at your own pace. You could build it in a week or spend several months taking your time. Some people wait over a year to build a guitar, as mentioned above. It’s nice not to be rushed when making a guitar because it’s crucial to pay attention to the details.
  • Making your own instrument is priceless. You’ll always feel more appreciative when you know the guitar you’re playing was made with your own hands. Crafting an instrument is worth more than an instrument bought by any company. Nothing beats choosing exactly how you want it to look and sound.
  • You can decide how much you want to spend on each part. Some companies make budget guitars with the cheapest parts, whereas others fork out hundreds of dollars for high-end materials. You can choose which parts are the most important on your guitar and spend your budget accordingly.
  • There’s no need to worry about expensive labor, shipping, and handling costs. You might have to order a few parts, but shipping costs are reduced since the weight will be lower than a full guitar. Furthermore, you’re performing the labor, so you won’t have to pay anyone to put the guitar together.
  • It’s very easy to find the exact combinations of materials and designs you want for your guitar. You can find parts made of bone, metal, plastic, wood, and many other materials. Each material affects your guitar’s resonance, sustain, and overall tone. Building your own guitar lets you design exactly how it should perform.

Final Thoughts

Building a guitar is a worthwhile hobby for countless reasons. You’ll undoubtedly face challenges, but it can be affordable, fun, and long-lasting. Remember to set a realistic budget and avoid rushing the construction process.

For more, check out 6 Substitutes for Guitar Strings That Actually Work.