Make a one-string electric guitar from plastic
tubing. By Tom Zimmerman
This project will show you how to build an amazingly
inexpensive and rad-looking one-string electric
guitar out of pine wood and PVC pipe. A single
string purposely keeps the design simple. (For
a 3-string cigar box model, see MAKE, Volume 04.)
But first, we need to establish the names and
functions of the various parts of a guitar. Please
refer to the diagram and materials list on the
following page before starting.
Photograph by Sam Murphy
1. Get your parts together.
Do you want a lead or bass guitar? A lead guitar
has a thinner string and is used for playing melody.
A bass has a thicker string and plays lower notes.
Get the cheapest tuning machine and metal low E
string you can find. If the tuning machines come in
a strip, cut them apart with a hacksaw, preserving
a mounting hole for each tuning machine.
2. Make the body.
The sound of the vibrating string is picked up by
a piezo element, so you can design the body any
way you please. Look at pictures of guitars to get
ideas, or trace a real guitar.
Draw the pattern on the wood and cut it out using
a jigsaw, scroll saw, or band saw. It helps to first
make release cuts (cuts going from the edge of
the wood to the pattern) that fall away, providing
turning room for the blade.
Next, sand and round the edges to give it a finished look, and then hold it like you are playing it.
This is your last chance to modify any curves for
comfort. When you’re happy with your design, clean
off the dust with a damp rag and paint the body.
Several thin layers of paint are better than one
thick layer. Refer to the photo at the bottom of the
next page to see the process of making the body.