DIY guitar kits – What do you need to get started?

So, you are a guitar enthusiast wishing to build your own guitar and are looking into DIY guitar kits?
Or you are just curious about what’s the deal with all these kits people seem to be building all over the internet.

Well, in this article I’ll try to provide you with all the info you need about electric guitar kits.

First things first,

What is a DIY guitar kit?

As the name suggest, it’s a do it yourself kit for building a guitar. Go figure…

So what you’ll usually find inside is all of the guitar parts needed to build a full guitar, but they will be unassembled.
Also, some of the parts will need additional work on them before actually being ready to use in a build project.
Things like sanding the body, fret leveling, etc. will most likely be needed, but more on that later.

So what are the parts that usually come in these kits:

  • Guitar body
  • Guitar neck
  • Pickups
  • Bridge
  • Tuners
  • Potentiometers / Pots
  • Control Knobs
  • Strap Buttons
  • Jack and jack plate
  • Screws, washers, etc.
  • Pickguard (depending on type of guitar)
  • Control plate (depending on type of guitar)
  • Neck plate (depending on type of guitar)
  • Strings (optional)
  • Cable (optional)

As you can see, you’ll find everything you need in the package. However, you’ll still need some tools, sanding paper, paint, glue and similar things.

Choosing a guitar type / model for your build?

You might already have a specific guitar you’d like to build.

If so, I guess you can skip this part. Or you can still read it, just for fun. 🙂

First thing you need to ask yourself:

“Why am I building this guitar in the first place?”

– You hopefully

As silly as this might seem, the answer to this question will most likely tell you what kind of guitar you should build.

You might want to have a specific guitar, like an artist signature model of your favorite guitarist, but it’s very difficult to find it in stores or even on Reverb.
Or you might be specifically after a Floyd Rose style shred guitar. Or a semi-hollow ES-335 type guitar.

In that case you should look for a guitar kit that bears most resemblance to the guitar you’d like to build and just accept any potential difficulties of that build.

On the other hand, your reason might be that you’d like to try your hand at guitar building to see if there is an luthier inside you after all.
In this case I’d suggest to start small and find a simplest guitar kit to begin your journey.
Personally, I would suggest a Telecaster kit because Telecaster is probably the simplest guitar there is. It’s not a coincidence that this is the guitar that Leo Fender started the era of mass produced guitars with.

Something more complex, like a set neck guitar Les Paul kit, might be too difficult if this is your first time building a guitar.

So, stick to simple, bolt-on kits with no neck angle to worry about, keep the paint job simple and you have far better chances of actually finishing your project. Therefore, you’ll have far better chances of starting the next one and so on.

What is the best guitar kit to buy?

Luckily, these days there are a lot of options to choose from.

Now on the other hand this can get you dazed and confused before you even start.

So let’s break down some options you have.
I don’t want to sound boring but the answer to the previous “Why am I building this guitar in the first place?” question, will help us here as well.

Other than that one, you should also ask yourself things like:

  • How much am I willing to spend on this project?
  • What is my desired balance of price and quality?
  • Do I want a nice, trusted and secure supplier or am I willing to risk?

You get the idea.

If you are willing to pay a premium price in order to get the best possible product than you should probably check out sites like Precision Guitar Kits.

If you are somewhere in between and would like a good quality kit but also don’t want to spend a fortune, then I would suggest the guitar building community’s favorite Stewart-MacDonald.

Other options for this range would be theFretWire, Solo Guitars or Harley Benton kits from Thomann.

And if your priority is spending as little as possible and you don’t mind potential issues with customer service or the end quality, then I would suggest browsing sites like AliExpress or Ebay.
If you decide that this is the way to go, I would suggest that you look for products that have a decent number of reviews and that the average score is in 4 to 5 star range. And read the reviews, you often find useful information there.

But no matter which one of these these 3 options you choose, do your research!
This is probably something that you are already doing, since you are reading this article, but I would suggest you look for people who already built kit guitars and were nice enough to share their experience with the rest of us.
No matter if they have less than 100 YouTube followers or if they are well established. Learn from other people’s mistakes.

Some of the people I’d suggest are Dan from Guns and guitars and Darrell Braun.
I personally follow both of these guys, love their content and even used some of their videos as research for this article.

What skills and tools do you need?

This is too big of a topic to fit in this article. But I’ll do my best to get you going.

Like mentioned previously, the guitar will not be assembled and some parts will need additional work.

Depending on the type of guitar you chose, this can vary greatly.
For example, if you choose a Telecaster kit or a similar fixed bridge kit, than you’ll just need to drill holes in the appropriate spot and screw it down. I know it’s not THAT simple, but it will be a lot simpler than installing a Floyd Rose bridge.

Body will almost certainly need final sanding before you can get to the painting. At this point you’ll need to decide if you want to dye the body and have the wood grain visible or you want a solid paint job. You could also do a natural finish and just apply clear coat.

Same goes for the neck with slight differences.

Frets usually need leveling but this will most likely be affected by the price you paid. Lower priced kits usually need a full fret job, while more expensive ones will need little to none.

Nut filing will be similar to fret leveling.

Installing the tuners is usually not a difficult task if all of the parts fit with each other. If not, then you’ll have to either be able to overcome the issues or pay an expert to do it.

Soldering the electronics is the part that some people are particularly uncomfortable with.
Some kits come with detailed schematics which will make your life a lot easier at this stage.
Some don’t, but you can find wiring diagrams for all of the usual configurations online easily.

So far I haven’t found a guitar kit with solderless electronics but I have found solderless electronics-only kits.
So you could buy the electronics separately if this is something you’d prefer.

The bottom line is – tools that you’ll need will vary depending on the kit you choose, and the amount of detail and customization you decide to go with.
You might be good to go with just a set of screwdrivers and wrenches, a straight edge / ruler, hand drill and some sand paper.
Or you might need an entire set of luthier supplies.


DIY guitar kits are awesome and offer you the feeling of your own custom guitar without the high price you’d have to pay a guitar builder to make you one.

Also, they are a great way to start your journey to become a luthier as they are a lot easier than doing everything from scratch.

Build difficulty will vary greatly depending on what you choose to buy and the amount of customization and detail you decide to go with.

No matter what you decide to go with, make sure you do your research beforehand and don’t let the challenge frighten you.

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