Bass guitar build

So I would like to build my daughter a bass guitar for her birthday. I have an amazing chunk of purple heart that is 2" thick and well big enough to build the body of the bass. I have zero experience with this sort of thing so I was hoping that someone had done the design work and was willing to share the file. I am willing to pay if someone has one on their etsy or whatever. Just trying something new and hopefully can make something super cool for my daughter. Thanks in advance

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There are some files available for sale on etsy:

I don’t know much about making guitars either but if you do go this route make sure to look at the reviews and look at whether they have documentation/support for completing the build. Sometimes there are sellers who just find files and resell them.

The community used to have these notes:

Excellent discussion of additional tools needed: A question or three for the guitar makers out there - #25 by loudsimonet ‎The Makers Garage Podcast -- by Carbide 3D: TMG - Ep. 18 - The Punk Rock Machinist on Apple Podcasts


The subreddit: Reddit - Dive into anything has a number of useful links in its sidebar

CAM page lists:



Lot of great information from @WillAdams.

You might check out this site too.

You said that you want to make a bass guitar for your daughter. But you didn’t say what type. There’s 3 different types, precision, jazz, and PJ (a combo of both). There’s also a lot of different styles among those that produce different sounds (as will the wood you use).

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Thanks, I have yet to decide what type of base other than a solid body. Once I go through all these resources I may have it figured out.

A few tips for you.

Get a similar size of material as the Purple Heart and run a full cut and make sure you have the outcome you expect.

Use a good brand of CNC bits and have spares of every size. Purple Heart is a very abrasive wood and will dull bits and other cutting blades.

Purple Heart will also chip out more than other woods don’t make aggressive cuts, if you have enough of the material you can do some test cuts and see how the material cuts before you push the button on the good material.



There’s a lot more that goes into making a guitar other than cutting out a body in some cool shape. Knowing your scale length is key before your ever cut the body. Are you buying an aftermarket pre-assembled neck? Otherwise you’ll need specialty tools. Understanding the wiring and shielding is also important. There’s tons of info out there. I have been following Luthier groups for years and still not ready to build my first guitar.

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Yeah, likely I will make many mistakes. I am more of a jump head first in type of guy. I have been wanting to do this for years and I have just never started. I plan on making the neck and fret board as well. I have done a bunch of research on carbon neck inserts and truss rods, so I think I’m just going to send it. More than likely it will cost me way more than just buying a nice bass for her, but then I couldn’t say I built it myself. Thanks for all the advice.


Thanks, I will do some test cuts. I actually have been having second thoughts about using the purple heart. Mainly because this is going to be for my daughter and the body will be super heavy. I may need to rethink my wood choice. Good advice on shallow passes though… Thank you

Don’t discount using the Purpleheart. You might add it in with some other wood. I’ve been making a bass for about 2 years now. It’s taking so long because I’m doing it with hand tools only (although I’ll cut the pickup pockets with the cnc) and finding the time to work on it is tough. It’s a through neck with a five wood laminate, one of which is Purpleheart. It’s a really nice look when added to a lighter colored wood.


We look forward to seeing it.

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Me too. This thread may help. Not a bass though

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A very worthwhile project. And very gratifying when it actually plays nicely! I built my own guitar and it is the best project I have done on my shapeoko. When done properly and with forethought can also be a huge time saver in building a guitar.

As someone mentioned on here already, your scale length is going to be critical. I don’t know how much experience your daughter has playing bass guitar, but a shorter scale length (meaning a shorter style neck) will mean easier playability, especially if she has yet to develop the necessary hand strength to play. This however is a bit subjective and others may disagree on this approach. A shorter scale will also mean less string tension, which makes it easier to play and less demanding on the neck, but can lead to “fret buzz” if you’re not careful with your string height.

Another important consideration will be hardware. You must research what hardware you plan on using before you build. Hardware requires space and you need to know how much space you need, especially for the thickness of the body.

There are many things to consider and this is not a “jump in head first” kind of a project. You will be much more happy taking the time to do it correctly because once you go down one path, its hard to double back.

One thing that made it easier for me was buying the fretboard premade and determining how long my guitar needed to be. I also recommend Stewmac as they will have everything you need as well as resources to complete your project. (no i am not affiliated with them, its just a good site)

One last thing: One of the reasons i wanted to build a guitar was because there are not a lot of “smaller bodied” guitars out there that appealed to me. So i simply took a picture of something similar that i liked and imported it into CarbideCreate and simply traced the body. Then of course tweeked the size as well as the shape a bit. If you plan on doing an electronics cavity on the backside then be sure to give yourself two reference points to secure your body to ensure accuracy when flipping it over.


That guitar looks sick man. I appreciate the insight. My daughter plays my bass currently which is a 34" so I figured I would just do that. I thought about something smaller but… I dunno if she stops playing I can take this bass back :).

I have tossed around the idea of just buying a premade neck and fret board, but I haven’t really made any decisions yet. Obviously I have done what any good person would do and watched 400 hours of youtube videos. So I’m pretty much an expert :upside_down_face:. I think I just want to try it. Luckily I’m 80% idiot and 20% willing to throw money at something until I can do it.

I will research components a bit more so I can make sure that I am spacing everything appropriately. So thanks for that tip.

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I’ll say if you purchase files, it may not be worth it. I purchased a Gibson SG model from 3dcncguitars, and it was not usable. The neck/body joint was bad with the toolpaths they created and did not fit together nicely.

I asked for help, and while I’ve seen others rave about his service, I found them less than helpful. I expected to be able to just modify the tooling, recalculate the toolpaths, and be on my way. That was not my experience.

I made a telecaster (single sided body) with some files I found on the net and it worked out great. I made a neck with some help from a friend who is a Fusion wiz. It looks like Will already posted that link. I ended up making another Thinline Tele here too Another Telecaster Guitar


I can’t wait to hear how it turns out!! I like the attitude. I have been studying for a few years myself and am hoping to make one for my grandchildren, once I get some :slight_smile:

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If you build it they will come.


Hi, you have picked a difficult subject to make. You will need more than a CNC to accomplish this. Basic equipment. Drum sander for shaping, one the fits a drill press is good to start with, inexpensive. Set of nut files, expensive but ok if you make more than one guitar. Fret saw for cutting fretboard slots, very thin gauge saw will do, inexpensive. Accurate steel rule, I metre in length, inexpensive. All inexpensive tools can be bought from a good diy. I’d suggest a solid body, hollow bodies are too complicated. Use you own bass guitar as a template, buy an inexpensive technical drawing package, I use xara. Expect to build the neck without a CNC. Visit Stewmacs site plenty of information. I have built banjos, hollow body guitars and solid body guitars plus cigar box guitars, they are all built using the same process. I started with cigar box guitars, you might want to look at C B Gitty. I am based in the UK. If you would like any further information put a reply in, I’ll try to help.


I don’t have anything to contribute wrt building a guitar, but I was intrigued by this thread because I’d love to do something similar in the future, as my son has expressed some interest in playing the guitar. Anyway, it occurred to me, as I was reading: every time I pop onto the Shapeoko community forums, @WillAdams is front and center being very helpful with an amazing plethora of resources, seemingly no matter the subject. So, from a long-time (about 6 years) user of a Shapeoko and not-very-frequent-poster-but-many-time-lurker, I very much appreciate his input. (ie, what would we do without him?) Also, I’m amazed at how much great input a wanna-build-a-guitar user can get from the community; that’s more of a general statement about how much helpful input you can receive, no matter what you’re trying to build. Great stuff, people.

also @jerrod, that’s really freaking amazing.


Thanks for the tips Tony. I do have a “full” woodworking shop. So hopefully if I don’t have the right tool, I have something close. I would love to keep you on back up if I have questions or need help for sure. I can never have to many brains to figure out a problem