Luthier Frank Falbo on the Dos and Don’ts of building a parts guitar.


If done incorrectly, some of the procedures described in this article may result in bodily injury and/or serious damage to your project instrument. If you’re uncomfortable with any of the steps in this article, consult a professional technician for assistance.

Every day I get to make guitars from scratch—from the earliest stages full of sawdust to the final steps involving paint fumes, wet sanding, and buffing. So I must admit it was a welcome departure to be asked by Premier Guitar to show you some tips and tricks on assembling a parts guitar—because although it’s not extremely difficult, it’s also not as simple as it seems to end up with an instrument that feels, sounds, and plays like the custom guitar you hoped it would be.

To the beginners out there, forgive me if any of the ensuing text is over your heads. And to you veterans, forgive me if any of this seems condescending. I’ve tried to drive this project right down the center so there’s something in it for everyone. That said, those of you who’ve read a lot of DIY articles will quickly notice this one’s different in that we’re not following a particular order. With a parts-guitar build there’s not much need for that beyond obvious stuff like painting the body before adding hardware, mounting pots before soldering, and attaching hardware before stringing up for a test. Here we’re focusing on nuanced tricks of the trade that will help you avoid infuriating slip-ups that leave unsightly marks or result in subpar performance.

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