Building a guitar does not have to be an expensive exercise. You can get a DIY guitar kit for as little as $99, but can also pay $500 or more for all the materials you need to build a guitar.
In this article we’ll explore how much different types of kits cost, comparing acoustic and electric guitars, as well as what differs between cheap and expensive guitar kits.
Why Are Some DIY Guitar Kits So Cheap?
In the guitar manufacturing process, one of the biggest expenses is labor. This is the main reason the manufacturing of guitars has largely been outsourced to countries where labor costs are much cheaper (China, Indonesia, Korea, etc).
As a result, if you are willing to do some of the setup and configuration yourself, you can save a significant amount of money.
Obviously, with some of the cheapest kits available, the components will not be high quality, but they are a great way to practice your craft, and build your skills.
How Much Does It Cost to Build an Acoustic Guitar?
There are a variety of DIY guitar kits available across the price spectrum.
If you are planning to source your own wood and all your own materials on a bespoke instrument, then you could easily spend $1000 and put yourself through a whole lot of stress and anxiety in the process. But for some, this is the process they are wanting to go through, and experience.
For most people who are looking to build their own acoustic guitar, buying a DIY acoustic guitar kit is the best option to consider. With a DIY acoustic guitar kit, everything you need has been cut to size and included in the kit, so the tasks are more about assembly than about finding and shaping the right pieces of wood required, etc.
DIY acoustic guitar kits come in various stages of assembly, so you can choose a kit that provides the experience you are looking for.
StewMac Acoustic Guitar Kits
For example, StewMac guitars sell a ‘Body-Built’ acoustic guitar kit. In this case, as the name suggests, some of the highly technical and complicated work has been done in terms of gluing and assembling the edges to the back and the top. As a result, the main task involved assembling the neck, connecting the fretboard, truss rod, bridge and even inserting the frets into the fretboard.
These kits are available as either ‘all solid wood’ or a combination of solid wood and laminate materials.
The price starts at $399 for the solid wood/laminate combo and $499 for the solid ‘all solid wood’ set.
Read more here: https://www.stewmac.com/kits-and-projects/instrument-kits/acoustic-guitar-kits/stewmac-body-built-acoustic-guitar-kit
StewMac provides a range of other acoustic guitar kits as well as the ‘body-built’ kit.
The body-built combo kit is the cheapest of the range, and the pricing goes all the way up to $1499 for the jumbo kits.
See their full range here: https://www.stewmac.com/kits-and-projects/instrument-kits/acoustic-guitar-kits/
Martin Acoustic Guitar Kits
Martin guitars also supply acoustic guitars direct to consumers, ordering through their website.
They are prepared based on order, and cost from $550 and up depending on what type of wood is included in the kit.
Luthiers Mercantile International Acoustic Guitar Kits
Luthiers Mercantile International Acoustic Guitars kits are not for beginners, but more for intermediate/professionally skilled people.
The kits are completely customizable based on your desired parts and accessories.
Once you start browsing their kits you need to select everything you want to be included, using a bit more of an a la carte approach.
How Much Does It Cost to Build an Electric Guitar?
Similar to acoustic guitar kits, DIY electronic guitar kits come in all shapes and sizes and have differing price levels.
StewMac Electric Guitar Kits
In addition to their acoustic guitar kits, StewMac also manufactures and sells a comprehensive range of DIY electric guitar kits. They offer kits that mirror all the most popular shapes including Les Paul, Telecaster, Stratocaster styles, and more.
The StewMac DIY Electric Guitar Kits start at price at $199 and go up from there. Prices fluctuate based on the timber used in the body and the quality of the included components.
Pit Bull Electric Guitar Kits
PuitBull Guitars are an Australian-based company that specializes in affordable electric guitar kits. They ship their guitars all over the world.
Pit Bull offer kits based on all the popular models, similar to StewMac, including models that are similar in style to Stratocasters, telecasters, SG’s, and more.
The kits provide everything you need, meaning no further component purchases are required unless you want to upgrade or switch out certain components.
The kits start at price at $99 and go up from there, depending on the quality of components, and complexity of the design.
In addition to their great prices, they also offer access to an online forum where you can share and get support as you go through the building process.
What Varies Between Cheap and Expensive DIY Guitars?
The main factor that contributes to price differences between different DIY kist is the quality of the components included.
This is relevant to both the wood used for the guitar body, neck, and fretboard.
It is also highly relevant to the quality of the electrical components included. From pickups to wiring to sockets, the more you pay, the better quality components you will get with your DIY guitar kit.
Is It More Expensive to Build a Guitar?
There is no definite answer as to whether a guitar is more expensive than a pre-assembled guitar.
There are both very cheap guitars and very cheap guitar kits, and also expensive DIY kits and guitars.
It is quite possible to spend more than you were planning to when making your own guitar. You may change your mind partway through about what components you want to include.
Or you may have to buy additional tools to support the assembly process you didn’t have. Or worse, you could make a fatal mistake in the process which makes the guitar unplayable.