DIY Guitar Building – Day 7 – Routing the Pickup and Control Cavities

Welcome Back!

We’re back in the wood shop today for our DIY Guitar Building series to route the control cavities for these neck through guitars. By this point we have rough-cut the body shape, attached our custom template and began to flush up the body shape to the template. Before we remove the template we want to route out the pickup and control cavities. You’ll see why we did this in the next video. But basically the Flush cutting router bit we have has blades that are an inch long and we couldn’t flush it up to the entire depth of the body shape, because of the thickness of the template.

Check out the video:

We’re first using a Forstner bit on the drill press to take out a little wood in the control cavities so that we can drop the flush-cutting router bit in there and start to route out the cavities. These are custom guitars we are making here, and I’ve designed the pickup and control cavities to accommodate different pickup configurations. The pickups and controls will be suspended in their respective body cavities via a pick guard that looks much like a standard Stratocaster pick guard. I had to modify the original shape a little bit though to accommodate for the tune-o-matic bridge and shorter Gibson scale.

My original plan is to go with dual humbucking pickups like you see on most les pauls. But…. Say I want to switch to another configuration like 3 single coil pickups (like a strat), or single coil – single coil – humbucker, or humbucker – single coil – humbucker, then I can do that just by making different pick guards and switching them out, I won’t have to go back and re-route the cavities.

I’ve designed these guitars not only for comfort but for versatility as well. I figured if I’m going to spend all this time building them, then I want versatile guitars. Also, I chose different wood combinations for each guitar, so I can play with different pickups for each to get different sounds. One guitar has a Maple neck with an Ash body, and the other has a South American Mahogany neck and body.

So, again we’re using the Forstner bit to clear out some wood in the cavities before we use the router inside of them. We’ve got the drill press set to drill to a specific depth here. The body is 1 1/2 inches thick (just a little thinner than a strat to cut down on weight). For the pickups and jack plate we are going down to ¾ of an inch, and the controls need a little extra clearance so we’re going down to an inch. For the blade style pickup switch we needed just a little extra, so where that will be we went down to an inch and an 8th.

I think if I were to do it again, which I plan on in the future, I will take some others tips and use the forstner bit to take out most of the wood in the cavities, and then go in there with router just to get everything nice and cleaned up. But this worked just fine, and I trust Bob knows what he’s doing.

Thanks for stopping by,

–Mike