Harley Benton has launched its latest run of DIY electric guitar kits, and while these are no-brainers for the fiscally conscious aspiring luthier in your life, the budget-gear giant has gone one step further with a carve-your-own-body kit.
That’s right. You are supplied with a blank piece of tone wood to do what thou whilst with. Though at first blush, in its rectangular birthday suit, there is a Bo Diddley Cornflakes box vibe that might make our jigsaw redundant. Still, there’s nothing like a blank canvas – or sheet of Rengas, a tropical hardwood from east Asia – to get the imagination going.
There are five new kits in total. All have one thing in common: like all Harley Benton guitars, they’re darn pretty cheap. At $137, the bass guitar kit is the most expensive. The Square kit, ie, the one you must carve yourself, is just $105, with the new semi-hollow TL T-style kit is just $108.
Everything you need to make the instrument – besides the patience – is included in the box, and it offers a great introduction to luthiery, allowing players to get hands-on with tuners, hardware, and pickups.
These blanks are not quite a blank slate. Harley Benton has done the pickup routing for you. The routing for the tuners, bridge and electronics has also been prepared.
Thankfully, all the builds have bolt-on maple necks, so it’s not like you’re heating up the hide glue and trying to set a long-tenon neck joint. You don’t have to be Nik Huber to put these together – but all the greats started somewhere.
The kits ship with unstained wood, so you have the option of giving them a custom finish before assembling. We would advice against letting the 12-year-old burgeoning guitarist in the family develop their own nitrocellulose lacquer in the potting shed, or taking a can of automobile paint to the body. But under adult supervision, this paint room at home could be a fun part of the assembly.
And if anyone has any fur leftover from Halloween, then why not make a ZZ Top inspired electric?
The new kits also include left-handed T and S-Styles, and an MB-style bass. The Square kit comes with a dual-humbucker paring.
The T-styles, both solid-bodied and thinline, have dual single-coil pickups, while the MB bass has a single passive humbucker pickup. All have amaranth fingerboards with dot inlays.