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The DIY Musician: Build Your Own Electric Guitar (1959) and Tube-Driven Vibrato (1957) Using Vintage Plans

As a DIY musician, I’m always looking through musty old magazines and books for long-forgotten instruments, inventions and plans.

This week, I've archived two more sets straight out of the Eisenhower era…and they’re some of the coolest ones I’ve found so far.

The first set of plans, written by Captain America artist and creator C.C. Beck, is for making your own electric guitar and utilizes a semi-hollow body design. The second is for a “throbbing” vibrato unit (actually a tremolo, as later corrected by a letter to the editor) that is tube driven.

The Strat and Les Paul guitars were merely several years old when these vintage plans were published in the 1950s. Magazines like Mechanix Illustrated and Popular Electronics were dipping their toes into the waters of rock and roll at the time. In fact, Mechanix Illustrated exclaimed in its vibrato plans, “Make like Elvis with an ‘electronic’ throbbing guitar!” Hubba hubba.

If you actually create the projects (especially that guitar), email pictures and videos to me at If there are enough submissions, I’ll create a follow up article on and show them off.

Here are the links:

How to Build and Electric Guitar: 1959 Plans
Build Your Own “Throbbing” Vibrato: 1957 Plans

Shane Speal is "King of the Cigar Box Guitar" and the creator of the modern cigar box guitar movement. Hear the music, see the instruments and read about his Cigar Box Guitar Museum at Speal's latest album, Holler! is on C. B. Gitty Records.