If you’ve ever seen the movie Wayne’s World, the main character, Wayne, lusts after the almighty Fender Stratocaster at the local music store, and his best friend, Garth, always tells him to “live in the now” and quit dreaming.

For many people, an American made Stratocaster is a benchmark of good guitars. I used to think the same.

Notice how I said used to. Ever since I built my own guitar I have never looked back. I’m going to challenge the idea that you need to pay high dollar for quality, and show you a better way; a way in which you can get a guitar that sounds, plays, feels, and looks better than any guitar you can buy in stores by building your own custom guitar.


Aren’t custom guitars expensive?

The thought that “custom” = expensive is a myth. Plain and simple. There are plenty of existing new and used parts out there that be used to build your own guitar; and perhaps the most parts exist for Stratocaster style guitars.

There are companies who make bodies and necks for guitars, and you can buy parts from almost any music gear vendor on the web. A lot of these companies produce better quality parts than many factory made guitars.

Custom built guitars can cost significantly less than similar guitars in stores and can play significantly better to boot.


Why choose a custom guitar?

I could go on and on about the benefits of building your own guitar, but I’ll list a few big ones:

  • Design and color options are endless

  • Bodies can be lighter and more resonant.

  • Choice of body contours

  • Choice of neck back contour, neck width, and fret size

  • Choice of pickups and layout

  • Choice of knob location

  • Reflects your personality.

  • Will be one of a kind, and friends will be jealous

  • Sense of pride and confidence because you built it


How much does it cost?

Since we began with the example of Wayne and his Stratocaster, we are going to build a guitar similar to the American Standard Stratocaster. Keep in mind that American Standard Stratocasters cost $1299.99 today.


You don’t need expensive parts to make a FANTASTIC playing and sounding guitar.


How much does it cost?….

Let’s build one and find out

I’m going to find parts on the Internet right now to show you what it could cost to build a guitar to rival the Fender American Standard Stratocaster.

I’m only going to use good parts, not junk, and everything I choose will have free shipping.

I’m also going to choose an unfinished neck body and assume I would finish this guitar with Tung Oil. It’s an extremely easy finish, that you can literally wipe it on with a cloth and walk away; it’s so easy!

Also worth noting is that with Stratocasters, you can buy what’s called a “loaded pickguard” which is an assembly with the pickguard, pickups, knobs, and wires all wired up for you!

Didn’t I say this was easy?

After poking around on the internet for about 10 minutes, I found these parts:

PartTypeSourceCost
BodySwamp Ash – unfinishedMighty Mite$110.00
Fretted neckMaple/rosewood – med jumbo fretsMighty Mite$109.99
TunersKluson vintage styleEbay$39.95
BridgeGenuine Fender vintage styleEbay$14.45
NutGraphtechEbay$7.65
Loaded pickguardAmerican Standard 2003Ebay$114.99
Jack and jackplateChrome standardEbay$5.99
Tung oilFormby’s low gloss tung oilLowes$10.07
StringsD’Addario 10-46 ($29.95 10 packs)Ebay$3.40
$416.49


Let’s do the math:

American Standard Sratocasters are currently $1299.99. The custom guitar that we just made cost $416.49.

$1299.99 – $416.49 = $883.5 left over!

For about $400-$450 and a couple hours of elbow grease, you could be playing a custom Stratocaster designed by YOU that:

  • Sounds the way YOU want,

  • Looks the way YOU want,

  • Feels the way YOU want,

  • Plays the way YOU want,

  • That YOU made and

  • YOU are proud of

… all for less than ONE THIRD of the cost of an American Stratocaster.

For that price, you could make THREE custom guitars and STILL have money left over to take yourself out for a nice dinner to celebrate!

Don’t you think Wayne would be better off building his own guitar? I think so.


Originally published by Jonathan Boyd in Tuned Up Tuned In.