Buying a brand new guitar is always a great feeling. You get to experiment with a sound you’ve never had before and play a guitar that may vary in neck action, wood type, hardware and more. These days, there are a few options available when buying a new guitar. You can purchase a brand new one from a music store, go online and buy one from an e-commerce shop, or find a second-hand guitar.
However, one option that you may not have come across before buying a complete guitar kit and putting the guitar together yourself. At first, you might be thinking “put a guitar together myself? That sounds like a lot of hard work”. Well, if you’re building it from scratch (i.e. cutting the wood, drilling the holes, sanding, etc) then yes that would certainly take lots of time and skill. However, with guitar kits, you can actually put together a guitar by yourself with little knowledge or tools required.
In this post, I’m going to be talking more about guitar kits and why you should consider them as your next guitar purchase.
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What Are Guitar Kits?
Guitar kits are essentially the combination of all individual guitar parts needed to put together a fully functional guitar. That means upon receiving a guitar kit you’ll receive everything including:
- Electrical wires
- Tuning pegs
- Toggle switch, etc.
You get the point. You’ll receive the guitar’s complete anatomy, piece-by-piece and then your job is to put everything together. Now, if you’re wanting to build a DIY electric guitar kit, you’re in luck. There are lots of electric guitar/bass kit suppliers that offer a range of different body types.
However, if you’re looking for an acoustic guitar kit you’re going to have a bit harder time. That’s not to say that there aren’t any acoustic guitar kits out there (there are) they just aren’t as plentiful likely because they can be harder to assemble and there just isn’t as much aesthetic versatility to them as compared to electric guitars. Either way, there are a few key advantages to going the guitar kit route.
Guitar Kits vs Prebuilt Guitars
When it comes to choosing whether to buy guitar kits vs a prebuilt guitar, it’s pretty easy to list advantages for both sides of the coin. For instance, if you choose a prebuilt guitar you’ll be able to begin playing it immediately, you won’t have to set time aside to assemble it, and you don’t have to worry about making any mistake during the build process. However, on the other hand, there are 5 pretty persuasive advantages of purchasing a guitar kit as well.
- They’re considerably cheaper as they don’t come prebuilt or finished. Therefore the kits can be sold at a lower cost.
- With certain guitar kit providers, you have the ability to customize specific parts of the guitar. For instance, you can customize the wood type, hardware, pickups, etc upon ordering it.
- Once you start working on your guitar kit you can really make it your own. Everything from the finish color, patterns, designs, engravings, etc.
- By putting together a guitar kit you’ll gain valuable experience in regards to how a guitar is actually made. You’ll see all the components laid out in front of you and It’ll be your job to put them all together. The more you do it, the better you’ll get.
- Upon completely assembling your guitar kit, you’ll be able to take pride in your work and say that you put it together and that there is no other exact duplicate guitar out there. Your guitar will be unique and you can emphasize that uniqueness any way you like.
How to Put Together a Guitar Kit
There is no one single or “correct” way to put together a guitar kit. Some of you might want to make certain adjustments to the wood of the guitar before assembly and others might do their wiring a certain way. That being said, there are many free resources online to help you out with your custom DIY guitar build.
For instance, certain guitar kit suppliers (which I’ll discuss more below) offer instructional documents or videos to help you get up to speed. There are also various forums you can use to perform research or ask questions and of course there’s always Youtube. I’ve put together a list of resources below you can reference if you’re interested in getting a guitar kit but aren’t quite sure on how to put it together, customize it, paint it, etc.
- A 4-page quick start guide from Pitbull Guitars that discusses everything from unpacking the kit, to sanding, painting, and more. They also offer a series of instructional videos to help you out with the assembly and finish of your custom guitar build.
- For guitar wiring-specific resources, The Fret Wire has put together a handy list of wiring example documents and videos in the support section of their website.
- The blog over at Guitar Kit World offers a good collection of articles that go over a variety of topics pertaining to guitar kit assembly, painting, wiring, truss rod adjustments, and more.
- Reddit has a great community over at /r/Luthiers where you can ask questions and get feedback from others.
- Another community-based resource you can use is the Unofficial Warmoth Forum. Again, ask questions about your build and get feedback from the community.
- As previously mentioned, there are a ton of videos on Youtube of people setting up their custom guitar kits. If you really want to get in-depth and take your guitar kits to the next level, check out this 21 video series by Crimson Custom Guitars.
Guitar Kit Suppliers
When it comes to deciding which guitar kits supplier you should choose to purchase from, there are a few options. Choosing the right supplier really depends on your budget and your level of experience. Chances are if this is your first DIY guitar kit you don’t want to spend a ton of money on it. Rather, you want to get your feet wet in the craft of building your own guitar and then later upgrade to better kits if you decide you like it.
However, if you’re on the other end of the spectrum and have a little more experience in putting together guitars you might want something a little more expensive and high-quality. The list below includes a few guitar kit suppliers you can choose from. Each supplier has a “Price” attribute associated to it with $ being the least expensive and $$$ being the most expensive.
- Thefretwire.com [Price: $] – The Fret Wire offers a wide selection of different electric guitar kit body types. You can choose from a hollow body, strat style, double neck, etc and all kits are below $200. They also offer other accessories that you can purchase to aid in building your custom guitar such as pickups, capacitors, fret file, and more.
- Warmoth.com [Price: $$$] – Warmoth is at the high end of DIY custom guitar parts. They’re a little different from other guitar kit websites since you can’t order the complete kit with everything included. Rather, it is much more selective in that you can get extremely detailed in how you want your guitar’s body and neck to look. Their guitar parts and hardware are great quality although you should expect to pay a higher price.
- Solomusicgear.com [Price: $] – This supplier is based in Ontario, Canada and also has a storefront location. Besides selling DIY guitar kits they also perform services such as restringing your guitar, setups, and more. They are also one of the few guitar kit providers that offer a couple of acoustic guitar kit options.
- Pitbullguitars.com [Price: $ – $$] – These DIY guitar kits range from cheap to moderately priced. Like other suppliers, they also offer additional accessories you can purchase directly. One of the main differentiators of Pitbull Guitars from other suppliers is that they offer significantly more instructional material in terms of videos and documentation to help get you started with your guitar build (although the information is quite transferable to any guitar kit).
All-in-all I think custom guitar kits are a great concept. If you’re passionate about guitars, you’ll love to learn more about how they’re put together and what customizations can make them sound better or worse. I believe one of the best things about a custom guitar kit is that sense of accomplishment you get when you finish your guitar build and are able to call it your own. There’ll never be another identical guitar out there that’s quite like yours.
If you’re interested in trying out a guitar kit, check out the list of guitar suppliers above. Furthermore, if you’ve ever built your own custom guitar or have any questions about DIY guitars let me know in the comments section below.