How To Build An Acoustic Bass Guitar

So you want to construct your own acoustic bass guitar? This can be an incredibly rewarding project, but realize going in that the building of an acoustic bass guitar requires a number of steps, but is a task that most anyone can complete.

  • A general outline, such as a blueprint (best made through the use of drafting tools).
  • Raw materials, including lumber of your choice and the hardware (tuning pegs, etc.) required to make the acoustic bass workable.
  • Various tools (that can be found in most wood shops and household tool chests).
  1. First form a plan. The construction of an acoustic bass guitar requires a plan of sorts. And though this can be a rough sketch, a more detailed drawing along the lines of a blueprint(including specific shapes and dimensions) will more adequately suit your needs.    
  2. Decide which form of wood to use. Most quality guitars consist of either ash or mahogany. However, other woods such as pine can also be employed if you feel them to be appropriate. (Just bare in mind that the wood you choose will dramatically impact the overall sound of your acoustic bass guitar.) 
  3. Know what you need. Before jumping into constructing an acoustic bass guitar, it’s important to realize that a multitude of resources will be required to complete the task. But the majority of these are neither exotic nor hard to secure.
  4. Learn from the best before you start. Due to the availability of knowledge currently available via the Internet, public libraries, etc. it’s now a snap to “pick the brains” of other master craftsmen such as those working at manufacturers such as Gibson, Fender and CF Martin. (Many of these masters’ trade secrets are easy to access through documentary films showing the proper approach to instrument construction … and a boatload of books explaining building philosophies concerning instruments such as an acoustic bass guitar.)
  5. Where to begin. Usually it’s best to start by forming the instrument’s various components (body, neck, etc.), while understanding that it’s best to sand, paint and lacquer the pieces before concerning yourself with overall assembly.
  6. For example…Most of an acoustic bass guitar is comprised of pieces best fashioned by using tools such as a scroll saw(unless you have the time, patience and skill to hand-carve).
  7. And then there’s the steamer. A number of elements that make up an acoustic bass guitar are curved. Therefore a wood steamer will more than likely be needed to treat portions of the lumber in order to make it pliable and possible to shape to your needs.    
  8. But the steamer’s not a cure-all. A lathe will be necessary to fashion the guitar’s neck…since the nature of this component is a general thickness that doesn’t react appropriately to the steaming technique.  
  9. And speaking of the neck…After you’ve accomplished shaping the neck to suit your needs, you’ll want to use a carving tool such as a lattice knife to embed appropriate groves to allow installation of the fret bars.
  10. Then IT’S HAMMER TIME!  Installing the fret bars is simple enough. Just apply a thin layer of adhesive before aligning the bars in their grooves … then tap them in snugly with a wooden mallet. (And after, you’ll obviously want to thoroughly clean off any excess glue.)     
  11. The final step is not at all puzzling. After you’ve constructed the pieces of your acoustic bass guitar, just treat them like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and assemble the instrument using appropriate adhesives (wood glue, etc.) But know that glue alone will not properly hold elements such as the strap buttons, neck, machine heads and saddle;these will require wood screws … unless you want the instrument to fall apart soon.

Now, it’s time to kick-back and enjoy what you’ve created (before stringing, tuning and then playing your acoustic bass guitar)!

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