Guitars - Classroom project #1: Shop assembly

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Blog entry by unisaw2 posted 03-19-2010 06:36 PM 1491 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I have volunteered to help the kids make their own guitars in class. The children are 9-10 year olds, and they are learning about sound. We want them to assemble/make as much as possible. The goal is to make a 4 string guitar that can be tuned. Notes will be A-D-G-B.

The basic design is a 4 string neck, sauna tube body, and 1/8”mdf sound board. We are using real guitar tuners and strings, but everything else is going to be made in the shop, or in class. Need to make a total of 15 guitars. Wood, strings & shop labor are being donated, so tuners are most of the cost.

The photos are of my second try with 1-1/4” thick Oak necks, heads and fret boards. I found that you need a strong rigid neck or the strings cause the neck to bend and cause the other strings to get out of tune.
Guitar Head

Kids will glue the box together, decorate, and install the tuners & strings. Then tune the instruments. Some of them can play.


Side View:
Side View


So far I am able to get the D and G notes to tune, but the amplification is not as good as a regular guitar. I have never made a guitar before, and don’t play.

I would also like the kids to participate in more woodworking, but there is not much they can do in class other than assembly.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

-- JJ - Northern Illinois

8 comments so far

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3706 days

#1 posted 03-19-2010 07:38 PM

Cool idea. I bet the kids have a ball.

Thanks for sharing


View jack1's profile


2128 posts in 4447 days

#2 posted 03-19-2010 08:04 PM

If you have access to a guitar or violin, viola etc., look inside as best you can through the fret holes. I thin yours has circles stopping the back from vibrating/sounding louder. I also believe the neck is only attached at the top. strength is gotten by cross braces on the inside of the front and back (2 or 3) kinda like “cleats’. The are glued on and I don’t think they are supposed to touch the sides so they give strength without cutting out too much vibration (sound). The box that the body is is like those tables people were making (forget the name) with all the cells in them for structure/strength. I’m sure there are instrument makers on our site. Good luck.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View unisaw2's profile


210 posts in 3455 days

#3 posted 03-19-2010 08:31 PM

Thanks, I’ll try cutting out the intersecting sections of the sauna tube to make it louder.

-- JJ - Northern Illinois

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 4093 days

#4 posted 03-19-2010 11:05 PM

Cool idea.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2988 posts in 3857 days

#5 posted 03-20-2010 12:37 AM

I’ve made guitars. This design is challenging to get sound out of. If I were you I’d make one sauna tube section sort of like a banjo. With this design 2 won’t make it any better. If you want to keep the price down I’d use some thin luan plywood or even hardboard (the brown pegboard without the holes) 1/8” would be best. Glue it to the sauna tube. you can run the neck through the tube but it shouldn’t touch the soundboard. Cut a small maybe 2” sound hole at high center and glue a base bar on the underside of the soundboard parallel to the neck located on the side of the sound hole parallel to about where the base string might be. It should be about 1/4” to 1/2” square. Glue the bridge in the right place but also glue a 1/8” plate underneath it about an inch wide and as long as the bridge. Or have a floating bridge like you’ve got now with a tailpeice. It will make a sound but will be louder if you glue another piece of hardboard to the back.

Another option is to make the whole thing just a long neck with strings on it and a guitar pickup underneath the stings. Of course you’d need an amplifier and a guitar pickup.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4313 days

#6 posted 03-20-2010 12:46 AM

if you can pull off making a free kit, .......guitar, a bunch of nine and ten year olds can put together?

my hats off to you.

it should be fun regardless of the outcome and inspirational to the kids. You should “U Tube” it.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View OutPutter's profile


1199 posts in 4410 days

#7 posted 03-20-2010 06:45 AM

JJ, it will not matter what the results are in terms of playability, the kids are gonna love these guitars. The best part is the air guitar at that age anyway. Keep it fun, try the advice given, but keep it fun.

-- Jim

View unisaw2's profile


210 posts in 3455 days

#8 posted 03-20-2010 10:51 PM

I cut out the interior of the body, and the sound is better. Although I have not figured out an easy way to get the neck off of the soundboard, I will cut a 2” sound hole. I do like the idea of a pick up, and small amplifier. After the kids have finished their work, I will have them hook their guitar to the amplifier, one at a time. Should be fun.

Thanks for the advice.

-- JJ - Northern Illinois

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