How to Build a Set Neck Guitar

Set neck guitars (and bass guitars) mimic the well rounded tone and sustain of solid, one-piece neck-through models without their high price tags. While bolt-on models feature placement bolts that hold the neck steady, set necks feature glued necks that set firmly and seamlessly in the pocket. When building a custom DIY guitar at home, attaining a perfectly set-in neck is entirely dependent on correct measurements and proper materials.

Things You'll Need

  • Pre-cut, pre-routed guitar body with uncut neck pocket
  • Electronics (pickups, control plate, input jack, etc.)
  • Hardware (bridge, tuners, knobs, pins, etc.)
  • Paint or clear coat
  • Finished neck
  • Industrial strength adhesive
  • Neck template
  • Measuring tape
  • Wood chisel
  • Router with one inch bit
  • Several C-clamps


    • 1

      Set the body on a flat, stable work surface and securely clamp the body to the table (use cloth pieces between the clamps and body to prevent dents). Lay the neck over the body where the neck will be and clamp it down securely. Place the wood slats on either side of the neck for stability and clamp them in place.

    • 2

      Slide the measuring tape underneath the slats and across the top of the neck, centering the tape at the zero mark. Insert a third slat between the two slats and push it flush to the neck for stability (tape can used to hold it in place while cutting). Use the router to cut the neck according to the shape predetermined by the template/clamped neck.

    • 3

      Use the chisel to rid the newly-cut pocket of unwanted snags and splinters. Lightly sand if necessary, but don’t overdo it for risk of widening the pocket. Insert the neck into the pocket to ensure a very snug fit. Remove the neck and apply adhesive to the pocket, then reinsert the neck and clamp it down, wiping away excess glue. Allow 24 to 48 hours to dry.

    • 4

      Remove the clamps slowly. You are now free to continue making the guitar as you normally would, including shielding the cavities, installing the pickups per the manufacturer’s instructions, and mounting the bridge and remaining hardware. If desired, apply clear coat or paint prior to hardware or electronics installation.

Related Searches


  • “Building Electric Guitars”; Martin Koch; 2001
  • Photo Credit Images

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