What could possibly make the bond between player and their guitar even stronger? By building it yourself, of course! No longer are the days where you’d have to source every individual part of the instrument yourself to craft your own axe – the instrument market is now flush with some of the best DIY guitar kits that we’ve ever seen.
DIY guitar kits contain everything you need to build or assemble your own guitar from scratch, meaning that your new pride and joy was put together from your own blood, sweat and tears (hopefully not literally). Building your own instrument brings with it a massive sense of pride and achievement, making it even more fun to play once it’s completed. What's more, at a time when we're all feeling the cost of living, building your own guitar can represent a significant saving on buying a ready-built guitar from a big brand.
You’ve also got the chance to really tailor it to you – from cutting the headstock shape how you want, to finishing it in whatever colr you can dream up, there are loads of options when it comes to personalizing your new DIY axe. You also don’t need to be an expert luthier to put these DIY guitar kits together – there are various levels of build difficulty. Many of them come with the electronics already soldered so you can just have loads of fun assembling it all.
You will need some tools, and a bit of know-how with a screwdriver won’t go amiss, but most of these kits will come with instructions, plus there are loads of helpful tutorial videos on YouTube.
For more guidance and our tips on building your own guitar, scroll to the bottom of this page. Some kits are only available in certain territories, so we've split the product round-up into US and UK sections to help you find the best options where you are.
Best DIY guitar kits: Guitar World Recommends
For budding luthiers in the US and Canada, we really like the Stew Mac 335. It might not be the simplest build, but the look of the wood and the finish of the body helps make for a really beautiful guitar that sounds great too.
For those across the pond in the UK and Europe, we’d have to go with the Wilkinson Modern S DIY guitar kit. With some fantastic parts made by Trev Wilkinson, you can put together a guitar that will resonate, intonate and play well, plus the combination of a humbucker and two single coil pickups makes for a really versatile set-up.
Best DIY guitar kits: Product guide (US)
Featuring a flame maple veneer top, which will look great – especially if you decide to add a burst finish – and mahogany back and sides, this DIY kit showcases some great electric guitar tonewoods that put it up there with some high quality semi-hollowbody guitars on the market. The body even has some really nice looking binding, and the F-holes are cut well. The center block is already in place in the body, and the routing for the pickups has been done.
The neck seems well made, with the frets seated properly and without many rough edges (how consistent they are from unit to unit, we can’t say). The nut is already in place, though replacing that is one thing that many players will opt to do afterwards. Once the neck is installed, it plays well, and the pickups sound great, delivering everything you’d want from a pair of humbuckers.
The Stew Mac 335 offers a great building experience; it’s not the easiest, but the really hard parts have already been done, allowing you to focus on the more fun parts!
This BexGears Les Paul-style guitar offers budding luthiers a traditional singlecut look and a fairly easy build. An okoume body and curved mahogany veneer top is a little different to the wood pairing we’re used to seeing on this style of guitar but it still looks and sounds just like it should, plus it helps keep costs down.
All the tricky soldering has already been done with this DIY guitar kit, so you’re left with the job of clipping together all the pickups and pots etc. It’s still enough for you to feel like you’re really getting involved, but it does make it a touch easier.
Once assembled, you’ve got yourself a great looking LP-style guitar fitted with a pair of beefy sounding humbuckers.
So this DIY acoustic guitar kit is a little trickier. All the parts of the classic and timeless Martin dreadnought guitar are shipped unassembled, meaning you’re responsible for glueing the body together, and the fretboard to the neck, though of course with this one you haven’t got any electronics to worry about.
The body features premium tonewoods – an East Indian rosewood back and sides paired with a solid spruce top for that classic Martin sound. The dreadnought body shape lends a lovely, deep low end, as well as crisp, detailed highs.
While this one might be a little more involved than other DIY kits, at the end of it, you’ll essentially have an unbranded Martin dreadnought guitar.
Want to turn heads with your homemade guitar? Then check out this hard rock machine from Solo. It’s got a mahogany body and a mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, like most of the finished guitars you’d see with this body shape.
All the wood cutting and routing has already been done, and the headstock is already in the shape that you might normally associate with this style of guitar. All the wiring and electronics are included and will require some basic soldering to get it all up and running, but that’s all part of the fun!
Once assembled, you’ve got yourself a rock solid electric guitar fitted with a pair of humbuckers that will help match your tone to your look.
Best DIY guitar kits: Product guide (UK)
Trevor Wilkinson is a pretty big name in the guitar world; his company makes a range of great hardware (a lot of which is featured on some premium guitars). They also make great sounding pickups and are one of the main forces behind Fret King and Vintage guitars. So off the bat you’ve got good quality parts included in this DIY guitar kit.
The body has been well carved, with all the curves and contours perfectly executed in the right place. The already fretted neck fits in the pocket of the body nicely making it a relatively easy build.
The Modern S offers players the classic S-type guitar with a twist. An HSS pickup configuration offers more versatility, giving you the option of flicking from glassy and chimey tones, to bigger, chunkier humbucker sounds at the flick of a switch.
This T-style DIY guitar kit features solderless electronics, making it easier than ever to get the pickups and wiring installed in your newly built guitar. The neck pickup is already fitted into the body as well, saving you another fiddly job. The guitar is fairly easy to put together, the neck fits well into the body and the electronics clip into one another without any fuss.
The body is lightweight and fairly resonant – not bad considering the price tag. The pickups deliver what you’d expect from this type of guitar. They might not be as detailed or dynamic as more expensive T-style pickups, but you wouldn’t really expect that at just over £100. Once put together, it holds its tuning well, and it’s possible to get the neck playing really nicely.
All in all, whilst it might not be the most refined of instruments, the Guitarworks Solo Cutaway is definitely one of the best DIY guitar kits at the lower end of the price spectrum.
Offsets are increasingly popular amongst a variety of guitar players, so it’s only right we include one on our list of the best DIY guitar kits.
This is an affordable kit that includes a primed body and neck (though a quick sanding wouldn’t go amiss), all the necessary hardware and a decent set of P-90 pickups. Most of the electronics are already done, so there’s no soldering involved; just clip your pickups in. The frets might benefit from a polish when you’re assembling, and the tuners aren’t the best we’ve seen – but then again that’s reflected in the price, and everything else makes up for it.
Unlike other guitars in this style, this kit doesn’t have a tremolo arm, instead going for a hardtail tune-o-matic style bridge. That’s no bad thing, as trem units around this price don’t always work particularly well.
Thomann offers a huge range of Harley Benton DIY guitar kits, so it's worth exploring the full range as you're sure to find the right model for you.
With prices for the real thing sitting around the £2k mark, you can build your own in a similar style for about 10% of the price with this DIY kit. There’s no mistaking which guitar this is trying to be, and is sure to be a big hit with indie rockers, with the likes of Paul Weller, Johnny Marr, Pete Townshend and The Beatles playing very similar instruments.
The guitar’s body is made from mahogany and has already been routed for the wiring and pickups. The neck is a lovely Canadian maple, with a 24 fret jatoba fingerboard and is ready to be set into the body’s perfectly cut neck pocket. This guitar kit also features solderless wiring, so once all your electronics are in place, all you have to do is clip them together – no dodgy soldering jobs required here.
The included humbuckers won’t give you quite the same jangle you’d get from the original pickups, but they’re certainly not bad sounding. The hardware also completes the ’50s style look that you’ve seen grace so many stages around the world over the years.
A mahogany body paired with a mahogany neck and ebony fingerboard makes for a timeless combo with this C22 style guitar. A dual humbucker design means you can get a range of powerful and chunky tones, suitable for everything from metal to pop, country and beyond.
It’s a relatively easy build, with all the soldering having been done for you, though rest assured there’s still plenty for you to get stuck into. The body has been routed for all the wiring too, so there’s no tricky drilling or incredibly specialist equipment required. This DIY guitar kit also features a set neck construction, which many players claim leads to increased sustain.
Best DIY guitar kits: Buying advice
What should you consider when assembling your own DIY guitar kit?
How easy it is to assemble should be a big consideration when choosing the best DIY guitar kit for you. If you’re completely new to it all, look for something that’s easy to put together. You’ll ideally want pre-soldered electronics, and as few parts as possible – so look for something without a tremolo unit, as a hardtail guitar is less fuss. If you’re not a stranger to handyman jobs or a bit of tinkering here and there, then you can look for something a little more advanced, with a few more parts for you to get your teeth into.
DIY guitar kits vary in terms of quality too. Some of the cheaper kits might not be as premium as others, but they might be the best option for someone just wanting to try building their own guitar for the first time. Lesser quality hardware will likely affect tuning stability and resonance, but they’re a fairly easy part to upgrade should you wish. Finding an after-market set of decent tuners, whilst it might be an additional cost, could work wonders for your finished product.
You’ll want to consider that finished product too. Look carefully at what pickups are included; if you’ve always hankered after the jangle and bite of single coils, then you don’t want to be going for a Les Paul style kit; even if it's easier to build. Also, if you don’t want a particularly heavy guitar at the end of it, then pay attention to the woods that are included as these will have an effect on the weight of it. Things like fingerboard radius can have an impact on how the guitar will play when it’s all finished too, so check that out, if it’s likely to affect how you’ll react to it.
DIY guitar building tips
Having a decent set of tools is going to make the job of building your guitar easier. They say a poor workman blames his tools, but in this case, you’re not going to get far if your screwdrivers don’t fit. On that point, a comprehensive set of screwdrivers is going to help make sure that everything is screwed in tightly so you’ll get a guitar that resonates better, and is less likely to come loose.
The best DIY guitar kits will usually come already sanded, but giving it another go-over yourself will result in a better finished guitar. You could even sand the neck profile down to suit your own playing style. The frets will usually benefit from a quick check too. Filing down or trimming any slightly problematic frets will help notes ring out properly and play better.
Also, it might be an obvious one, but with these DIY guitar kits, we’d always recommend sticking to the instructions. Read them carefully and follow what they say so that you get the best possible result. Throw in your personal style where possible, but rest assured that the manufacturers probably know best!
How we choose products
Here at Guitar World, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything guitar related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.
When choosing what we believe to be the best DIY guitar kits available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.
First and foremost, we are guitarists, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best DIY guitar kits on the market right now.
Read more about our rating system, how we choose the gear we feature, and exactly how we test each product.
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