What I Did with a 2x4

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Project by Ripthorn posted 01-12-2012 02:43 AM 7530 views 15 times favorited 55 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So this may be slightly long-winded, but bear with me. Now, I am as much (if not more) of a wood snob as the next guy, especially when it comes to the guitars I build. However, when I read the Tubafore challenge, I started to think it would be fun to build a guitar out of a single 2×4 for several reasons, namely:

- Everyone says you shouldn’t build a neck and/or fretboard from pine
- Pine isn’t an exotic hardwood
- Practice techniques and such that I would never do on a “real” build
- Build a guitar totally by the seat of my pants; no real planning, just go wherever the wind blows me (I’m usually a meticulous planner with my guitars)

In addition to using a single 2×4, I put the additional constraint on myself that I had to use entirely hardware I had on hand or that I could fabricate. This led to the design of the headstock, as I wanted 6 in line look, but I only had 3×3 tuners. Also, i wanted to design my own body shape. I have fallen totally in love with both the headstock and body shape, so even if it eventually just turns in to firewood, it is more than worth the $5 or so of materials that I put in to it.

Now for some details: all pine, even the fretboard. I made the neck and fretboard extra thick to account for the lack of stiffness in the pine. I made the rear cavity cover, jack plate, and truss rod cover from aluminum. I call the body style “Event Horizon” because in astrophysics the event horizon is the region around a black hole past which if something passes, it can’t escape. I thought it fitting since I am a physicist and also due to the fact that, now that I have designed this body style, I dont’ think I’m going back to any other boring body styles as a general rule.

Now, I used about 10’ of 2×4, so I am automatically disqualified from the tubafore contest, but that doesn’t matter. I learned a lot, including some flaws in my current techniques (this thing isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination). However, now I know so much more and am prepared to build several more (despite the fact that this was my 10th guitar build). Thanks for looking.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

55 comments so far

View HawkDriver's profile


447 posts in 3913 days

#1 posted 01-12-2012 02:49 AM

This thing is AWESOME! I don’t care what the tubafor contest results are. In my book you have already won! Hows the action? If you’re selling, Im buying :-)

-- Patrick, Helicopters don't fly. They beat the air into submission.

View Reaper621's profile


126 posts in 3609 days

#2 posted 01-12-2012 02:51 AM

Fantastic build. How does it sound?

-- Laywer by day, Carpenter by later in the day.

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 4265 days

#3 posted 01-12-2012 03:01 AM

Patrick, the action is actually quite good, at least so far :) I put in a double action truss rod in case the neck can’t handle the neck tension (though I put 8’s on it to mitigate that as much as possible). There is one fret on one string where I get a little buzz, but that is no problem. I doubt you would really be interested in this guy, as there are some serious asthetic imperfections going on. Mostly because I sprayed silver pearl powder over a black base coat and in some areas I sanded through some of the pearl coats. Those things are PICKY about thickness, etc.

Reaper, people asked me the whole way along “How’s it going to sound?” My answer was always “I don’t know, but I’ll let you know”. Well, it sounds an awful lot like most any other guitar. It sounds really nice, has good tones in it, but due to some of the imperfections, it won’t be the first one I reach for when I record.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Rob Mammen's profile

Rob Mammen

67 posts in 3972 days

#4 posted 01-12-2012 03:07 AM

This looks great. considering it is made out of a two by four you have quite an accomplishment. now if it plays any where as good as it looks you have a real winner!!

-- Rob, You have failed if you have not tried.

View bunkie's profile


417 posts in 4427 days

#5 posted 01-12-2012 03:15 AM


If you don’t mind, I have a few questions:

What’s the scale length? From the pictures, it appears to be quite long.

How is the neck attached? Bolt on or set in or Full neck through to the tail?

What did you use to stain the fretboard?


-- Altruism is, ultimately, self-serving

View a1Jim's profile


118296 posts in 4857 days

#6 posted 01-12-2012 03:33 AM

Wow who would have every guessed this great guitar is made from 2×4s. This is an amazing guitar.


View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3767 days

#7 posted 01-12-2012 03:34 AM

I always thought that “String Theory” had something to do with EADGBE.

Looks good.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3970 days

#8 posted 01-12-2012 03:38 AM

ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!! You are a craftsman.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Chris Moellering's profile

Chris Moellering

227 posts in 3928 days

#9 posted 01-12-2012 03:53 AM

Very cool headstock. Never seen anything like it.

-- Grace & peace, Chris+

View LukieB's profile


966 posts in 3610 days

#10 posted 01-12-2012 04:20 AM

Wow, what a fantastic use of a 2×4. It looks amazing.

-- Lucas, "Someday woodworks will be my real job, until then, there's this"

View DamnYankee's profile


3320 posts in 3842 days

#11 posted 01-12-2012 04:31 AM


Very nice looking work, even if its not the perfect instrument.

-- Shameless - Winner of two Stumpy Nubs Awards

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 4163 days

#12 posted 01-12-2012 04:42 AM

Hmmm… you’re a physicist who builds/plays and records…are you actually Brian May? Awesome guitar BTW!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View LucasinBC's profile


62 posts in 4351 days

#13 posted 01-12-2012 05:14 AM

One heck of a nice guitar man! Looks amazing – I doubt anyone would ever be able to tell this is 2X4 material unless you told them.

-- Making mistakes is essential in learning woodworking.

View joepk's profile


8 posts in 3973 days

#14 posted 01-12-2012 05:22 AM

Very nice looks good.

View jjw5858's profile


1135 posts in 3882 days

#15 posted 01-12-2012 05:36 AM

Great job on this….I am a guitar player of almost 20 years….very cool, rock on!

-- "Always continue to learn, laugh and share!" JJW

showing 1 through 15 of 55 comments

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