That Time I Spent Entirely Too Much Time and Money Building a Crappy Guitar

Jon Clemence
6 min readFeb 7
An electric guitar hanging on a wall.
The Tablecaster in all its glory.

I built a guitar from scratch once. It was terrible.

The Backstory

We were replacing our old dining room table, and I noticed that it was just about half the thickness of an electric guitar. I realized I could probably cut two blanks out of it, glue them together, and have a nice body blank to work with. So, rather than send it to the landfill, I decide to reuse it in a unique way: I’d build an electric guitar and call it the Tablecaster.

I wasn’t entirely new to making guitars at that point. Several years prior to that, I’d started making cigar-box guitars. I’d never much worked with tools before, and I decided it was important for me to learn how to use basic tools. I stumbled across cigar-box guitars and decided to give them a try.

Although I would never claim that I’m especially handy or good with tools (more on that later), I did make over two dozen instruments and sold a number of them as well.

We were replacing our old dining room table, and I realized I could probably cut two blanks out of it, glue them together, and have a nice body to work with.

But cigar-box guitars, it turns out, are a far cry from a full-sized electric guitar.

And so it was that I found myself in my garage one day with a guitar body blank and a vague sense of dread.

The Obstacles

Here’s the deal: I am self-taught in many areas. When I started making cigar-box instruments, I knew nothing about anything. Neither had I ever met anyone who built any kind of instrument. I had to figure it out as I went. So when I started on a full-size guitar, I was right back to square one.

And so it was that I found myself in my garage one day with a guitar body blank and a vague sense of dread.

I sketched out a few drawings and had some ideas about the finished product, but the process more closely resembled treading water while the Titanic sank. From the get-go, the build was a series of…

Jon Clemence

Medium needs more guitar-related content. I. Am. That. Hero!