STEM Guitar Project

Have you ever wanted to play a guitar? How about build a guitar? As part of this course (MAT295 or PHY294AB), you will be able to connect course content to the construction of a custumoized solid-body electric guitar that will sound just as good as a guitar purchased off the rack of a guitar shop. No experience with playing instruments or wood-working is necessary. We are looking for students interested in a fun, hands-on, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

How Does it Work?

At the beginning of the semester, you will purchase a complete electric guitar kit (~$255) instead of a textbook for your math or physics class. On the first day of class, kits are distributed. Each guitar-building meeting is packed with a lot to do. First, you get to do some shaping and sanding of the body and headstock. This is an exciting process, as this determines the final shape your project will take on. We then get into applying several body sessions of finish, including the opportunity to swirl-dip your guitar! After applying finish, hardware is attached, electronics are soldered and installed into the guitar, the neck is attached, and then comes the long process of set-up and intonation. Most students would agree that the eight meetings we have throughout the course semester are barely sufficient to complete the entire project! While any experience in working with tools could be helpful, none is required in order to have an amazing product at the end of the semester. The majority of students we work with have had no wood-working experience.

Where Can I Get Ideas for How to Customize My Instrument?

You can click here to view photos of what students have done in the past. Additionally, you are encouraged to use the web to find images of guitars. If you have a favorite musician, you can search for images if his/her instrument.


Below are links organized (roughly) by the sequence in which our building process occurs:

Guitar Body Sculpting
Basic Wood Repairs
Swirl Dipping (Optional Finish)
Jack Hole and Wire Run Drilling
Guitar Finishing Techniques
Soldering and Wiring Techniques
Hardware Installation
Assembling Guitar Pickups
Fabric Finishes - Part 1 (Optional)
Fabric Finishes - Part 2 (Optional)
Fractal Burning (Lichtenberg) (Optional)
Guitar Inlay (Optional)
Polyurethane Finish and Tinting - Part 1 (Optional)
Polyurethane Finish and Tinting - Part 2 (Optional)
Buffing Guitar Finish (Optional)

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Email Milos Podmanik