Planning out my next guitar building projects

This morning I ordered 5 metres of African mahogany, also known as sapele. Each piece will be 45mm thick and 180mm wide. This will provide enough timber for five two-piece guitar body blanks, each of around 350mm by 450-520mm. In preparation for the arrival of the wood I need to start firming up my plans for what I intend to do with each piece. I would be really interested to hear your own thoughts, suggestions and ideas in the comments below.

So far, my ill-thought out plans are to build…

Strat/Tele hybrid

I’m going to strip all of the parts from my £29 Tanglewood Nevada to donate to a guitar with a Telecaster shaped body and headstock, with Tele style controls, but with a Strat trem bridge and pickups. I will start off by using the Tanglewood pickups but, since these are the weakest link on this guitar, they’ll be replaced as soon as finances allow. I’m particularly attracted by the “Extra Width” Strat pickup set by The Creamery.


Nothing fancy, just take my existing Aria Pro II bass, reshape the headstock (which is the one feature I particularly dislike) and replace the body. For the body shape I’m still undecided whether to make something close to the current generic shape, or go for something more quirky. I do like the idea of giving it a carved top though.

SG Style guitar

This one will be using my old Shaftesbury Les Paul copy as donor. The guitar has a beautifully playable neck, and perhaps the best sounding vintage humbuckers I’ve ever played. It is let down by the ply body which, despite my attempts to tart it up, still sounds and feels like a crap ply body. I particularly enjoyed playing Clint Searcy’s SG Studio when I visited Nashville last May and I love the look of the SG body with a plain oiled mahogany finish.

Some of the less well formed ideas are;

  • To have a go at building a double neck Telecaster. Possibly a 6/12 string combo, or, the one that particularly appeals, is a 6 string/mandolin combination, or maybe even a 6 string standard and 6 string tenor combo.
  • To “rebody” my Line 6 Variax 500. A fine guitar saddled with some of the dullest styling ever devised.
  • A solid body version of the Kala U-Bass. A short scale bass (19-21″) which uses a piezo bridge and polyurethane strings to generate a remarkably authentic double bass sound.
  • To find suitable projects to use a First Act Neck and beautiful curly maple fretboard, donated by Clint Searcy and Steve Benford, respectively.
  • To build a guitar with a stained neck. I’m curious why necks always seem to be left in a natural shade. At the most extreme they get a vintage amber tint. Well how does the “Redneck Tele” sound?

OK, so if you had a pile of sapele and a bunch of old cheap guitars, what would you make out of them?

4 thoughts on “Planning out my next guitar building projects

    • They look cool although I was thinking of something a bit more “traditional”. Something like this one.

  1. I vote for something inspired by a Rickenbacker 480. It’s the body of a Ric bass, but with a six string neck. You could “fix” all the stuff people don’t like and then send me your templates and design plans with instructions!
    I also like the doubleneck idea. The key to making is playable would be to figure out how to keep the weight down while still maintaining good balance. Personally, I like the idea of a bass and 6 string for the two necks.
    But I also think of this in a solo-looper type situation where the bass and the guitar would be great together when looped.
    I’m sure I’ll be back with more ideas later. Good luck!

    • Some great suggestions there. Thank you so much! I had just downloaded a body plan for a Rick 4001 for ideas for the bass, but using that as inspiration for a 6 string is a cracking idea. I’ll give that some thought.

      For the double neck, it is definitely the weight that is my biggest concern and for that reason it may not make it off the drawing board.

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