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These 11 DIY guitar building kits are the ultimate Christmas gift for the player in need of a project

These 11 DIY guitar building kits are the ultimate Christmas gift for the player in need of a project
(Image credit: Getty/RyanJLane)

For many, the idea of a DIY guitar conjures up thoughts of a young Brian May and his father cooped up in the shed, cutting up an old fireplace and other scraps of wood, spending months meticulously shaping the neck and lovingly finishing the project after a long year of very hard work. But, while there certainly isn't anything stopping you from following in the footsteps of rock royalty - well, apart from time and the expertise in woodworking - there is actually a much simpler way to turn your hand at building your very own six-string - the DIY guitar kit.

The DIY instrument market has exploded in recent years with build-it-yourself options for every type of musician. From cheap and cheerful DIY ukuleles that are excellent for kids and adults alike, a flatpack Cajon that's surprisingly useable, and even a make-shift Korg synth that costs less than you paid for your last distortion pedal - and of course, a myriad of different electric guitars and acoustic guitars.

It's easy to see why these project guitars have gotten so popular. They offer the ability to not only learn about how an instrument is put together, but can also give you the chance to fully customize your new instrument to suit your needs - not to mention, it's a fun way to spend a weekend. It's no surprise then, that they are one of the best gifts for guitar players. Whether it's an electric or an acoustic DIY guitar kit, the happy recipient is sure to have hours of fun putting it together - giving you some much-needed peace and quiet while they work away on it in the shed.  

Below you'll find a few of our favourite options, covering different styles, price points and levels of difficulty, plus some tips, tricks and advice for those taking the plunge.

Best DIY guitar kits: Our top picks

Buying in the US

Musoo Electric Project Guitar: $239.99 at Amazon

Musoo Electric Project Guitar: $239.99 at Amazon
Continuing the theme of classic guitar shapes, we have the LP. This kit from Amazon offers the opportunity to build your very own single-cut, complete with a mahogany neck and flame maple top - and even a fairly convincing open book headstock. 

Saga ST-10 Electric Guitar Kit: $145 at Amazon

Saga ST-10 Electric Guitar Kit: $145 at Amazon
This S-style guitar kit is a great option if you are new to building a guitar. This kit is easy to assemble and the "paddle" style headstock means you can shape it however you see fit. 

Leo Jaymz DIY Single-cut: $179 at Amazon

Leo Jaymz DIY Single-cut: $179 at Amazon
Looking for something a little different? Well, this semi-hollow single-cut might be just the kit for you. Just like all the other kits, it has all the parts needed and is a relatively easy first build. 

BexGears DIY V Guitar: $179.99 at Amazon

BexGears DIY V Guitar: $179.99 at Amazon
Do you find the basic shapes a little too boring? Well, you can join the ranks of rock royalty with your very own Flying V style guitar. 

EX-Style DIY Electric Guitar Kit: $221at Amazon

EX-Style DIY Electric Guitar Kit: $221at Amazon
Channel your inner Hetfield with this Explorer-esque kit guitar. With dual humbuckers and all-black hardware, this pointy axe has the potential to be a thrash machine. 

Martin Build Your Own Guitar: $629 @Guitar Center

Martin Build Your Own Guitar: $629 @Guitar Center
Okay, this one is a little more expensive - well, a lot more expensive - but it's worth it. If you want to build yourself a Martin, why not go to Martin. The acoustic legend states that "this kit includes all the necessary parts to complete an instrument with the exception of glues and finishing materials". Among the parts included are a solid top, Richlite fingerboard and bridge and very clear instructions! 

Buying in the UK

Harley Benton Electric Guitar Kit JA: £66 at Thomann

Harley Benton Electric Guitar Kit JA: £66 at Thomann
If you fancy building your very own offset, the Harley Benton JA kit is the one for you. Clearly inspired by a rather famous wonky F-style guitar, this great little kit comes with the body, neck, pickups and all the other parts needed to make your own alt-rock icon - and all for only £66! 

Guitarworks Vintage-Cutaway: £119.99 at Gear4Music

Guitarworks Vintage-Cutaway: £119.99 at Gear4Music
For those about to rock - this Guitarworks Vintage-Cutaway electric guitar kit is perfect. We were undoubtedly thunderstruck by the highly affordable price of this classic-looking axe. It's also very straightforward to put together, so you'll be rocking in no time. 

Harley Benton ST-Style: £66 at Thomann

Harley Benton ST-Style: £66 at Thomann
Arguably the most popular DIY guitar shape is the S-style. This shape has long been associated with mods and tinkering, with many legendary guitars being parts-casters; just look at Van Halen's Frankenstrat. Well, if you fancy creating your own, then you can't go wrong with the Harley Benton ST-Style guitar kit, which cost less than most overdrive pedals! 

Harley Benton CST-24T: £85 at Thomann

Harley Benton CST-24T: £85 at Thomann
There are no prizes for guessing which modern classic this kit guitar is based on. Featuring two humbuckers and 24 frets, this would make a fantastic shred guitar! 

Guitarworks Solo-Cutaway Pro: £119.99

Guitarworks Solo-Cutaway Pro: £119.99
This bound T-style guitar certainly looks the part with its ash body and flame maple top, while the clip to connect wiring means it's a breeze to build. 

Best DIY guitar kits: Advice and tips

PRS guitar on workbench with guitar tools

(Image credit: Future)

What are DIY guitar kits?

As the name suggests, a DIY guitar kit is just like a standard guitar but with some assembly required. Each kit includes all the parts needed to build a successfully playing instrument, but the complexity of the build does depend on which kit you go for. Some come with all the electrics ready to go and require nothing more than screwing the neck to the body, some require you to solder all the electronics yourself, with more advanced kits needing you to glue the fingerboard to the neck, install a truss rod and even glue on the top. So bear in mind your own skill level and choose a kit that you feel is achievable. You can always start with a cheaper guitar kit and work your way to the high-end kits - learning new skills as you progress through the price points. 

Now, while it's more common to see electric guitars as DIY kits, you can pick up acoustic guitar options and even basses in a variety of different styles.

What tools do I need? 

Like we said above, the tools - and expertise - needed really depends on which kit you go for. For the entry-level kits from Thomann and Gear4Music, at the very least, you'll need a soldering iron, a selection of crosshead screwdrivers, and a tape measure or ruler. More complex builds may require guitar specific tools such as clamps, fret hammers, fret files, fretboard leveller, and fine-gauge wire strippers. If you are unsure what you may need to complete the job, be sure to check with the manufacturer of the kit.

Man soldering guitar pots

(Image credit: Future)

Tips for building a kit guitar 

The biggest and most important piece of advice we could give would be to take your time. We know you want to get rocking as fast as humanly possible, but there is no need to rush. To ensure the guitar plays as good as it can, you need to be precise, so it's essential that you slow down and make sure you are accurate while putting it together. Also, make sure you follow the instructions to the letter. This isn't a flatpack wardrobe; you can't throw caution to the wind and dive right in. If you make a mistake with the neck angle, alignment or fretwork, your guitar may never play correctly. 

On that note, it's worth spending a little extra time on the frets. In our experience, this is where most kit guitars fall down. Take care to file and trim the fret ends to ensure they are comfortable. You can also use a fret rocker to check for high frets that may cause buzzing and other problems further down the line.

Even though most DIY guitar kits come "pre-sanded" and are ready to be finished. It isn't always to the highest standard, so we recommend spending a little extra time priming the guitar for painting to ensure you achieve the nicest finish possible. When it comes to painting your new axe, it's imperative that you do this in a well-ventilated area and you read the instructions on the paint carefully. 

Last but not least is the set-up. Once your guitar is built, you'll need to set it up, so it plays as good as possible. This requires tweaking the truss rod, setting the nut and bridge height and adjusting the intonation. Now, suppose you are struggling with this last step. In that case, we recommend taking the guitar to your local guitar tech, who can assess your handy work and fix any problems that may be stopping you from getting the most out of your new guitar.

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Daryl Robertson

First and foremost, I'm a guitar enthusiast – a fanatic, some might say. I'm a firm believer that most of the world's problems can be solved with a Gibson SG and a catastrophically loud amp. Before writing about music gear for a living as a Junior Deals Writer on MusicRadar, I worked in music retail for 7 years, giving advice on guitars, basses, drums, pianos, and PA systems. I also have a love for recording and live audio production; I'm a fully qualified sound engineer with experience working in various venues in Scotland, where I live.