Tips on Using Melvyn Hiscock's book:
Build Your Own Electric Guitar

Here are some tips that folks attempting to use this book to build a first instrument may find useful:

This book does not contain a lot of information for first time bass makers concerning the design issues associated with the lengths of available bass strings. This is an issue for basses (and not an issue for guitars) because the wound portion of a bass string cannot be wound around the narrow posts of the tuning machines – the string will break. So the tip for bass builders is:

  1. First figure out the scale length you want for the instrument.  Do this before you do any other design work.  The choices are basically 30” (short), 32” (medium), 34” (long or standard), and 35” (extra long).  Briefly, you should probably use 34” in most cases.  Folks with small hands, short fingers, short arms, and/or thin wrists may find it easier to play a shorter scale instrument.  35” scale is generally used to improve the tone of the low B string on 5 and 6 string basses;

  1. Once you decide on the scale, buy a set of strings of that scale.  Also buy the bridge and the tuning machines you will use.  Again, do this before any other design work;

  1. When you design your instrument, lay it out so the wound part of the strings go through the nut but do not reach as far as the tuning machine posts;

Last updated: September 11, 2018


• Latest American Lutherie article: "Book Review: The Caldersmith Papers", American Lutherie #148 Table of Contents

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