Electric Guitar Specifications

This is a "top-down checklist" for the assembly of a solid-body electric guitar. It can help you to build a guitar with specific sound and playability characteristics. Please read licence and the contribution guidelines before contributing. Awesome

Electric Guitar Specifications

Table of Contents

Sound and Playability Influencing Factors


Guitar Neck+++++
Guitar Body+++++
Guitar Electronics+++-
Scale Length++
Woods (Body, Neck and Fretboard)++

*influence ( "-" stands for little, "++++" stands for very strong)

For example, for building a solid-body 'jazz-sounding' guitar you have to choose (top down by importance):

Guitar Necks

Guitar Necks

Neck thickness, neck width, neck contour and fret wire size affect playability and are a matter of personal taste. Important for good playability is balanced interaction of these components. Thicker neck often creates warmer tone.

usacustomguitars.com/necks - many neck shape and thickness combinations
musikraft.com - additional information for understanding of neck features.

Neck Profile

Neck Profile is the combination of contour (C, U, V , asymmetrc) and thickness (.0750" - 1")

DthinWizardD Shape
Cthin/mediumStandard ThinC Shape (AM Std)Traditional C
Cmedium59 RoundbackDeep CRound C (1959 LP)
UthickFatbackU Shape (Vintage Tele)
VthickBoatneckV Shape (Vintage 52 Tele)
asymmetrischmediumWolfgangModern C

*warmoth - Warmoth Neck Profiles
*fender - see "NECK SHAPE" Filter
*gibson forum - Gibson Neck Profiles

Neck Nut Width and Nut Slot Spacing

CategoryNeck Nut Widthe1/E6
Many Fenders from Japan41 mm (1-5/8")approx. 34 mm
Standard42,9 mm (1-11/16")approx. 35 mm
Acoustic analog44,5 mm (1-3/4")35 mm till 37,5 mm
Superwide (Warmoth)48 mm (1-7/8")approx. 40 mm

The real e1 to E6 string spread can be controlled not only through nut width, but also by slot spread in the nut. For example, 44.5 mm wide nut can have e1 to E6 distance between 35 and 37.5 mm.

CategoryString spacinge1/E6e1 to edgeNeck nut width
Narrow string spread7 mm35 mm4.75 mm44,5 mm (1-3/4")
Medium string spread7.3 mm36.5 mm4 mm44,5 mm (1-3/4")
Wide string spread7.5 mm37.5 mm3.5 mm44,5 mm (1-3/4")

graphtech - sizing guide and pre-slotted nuts

Neck Heel Width and Mounting

Most guitar parts manufacturer adopted Fender's® neck heel and neck pocket dimensions:

These dimensions are not a standard. Only careful measurement ensures that your parts will be compatible.

Strat necks have a rounded base to their heel and Tele necks have a squared-off base to their heel, which makes it difficult to interchange the two types of necks across various bodies.


Standard Fender heel mounting is done with 4-Bolt Holes - 1/8" (3mm) diameter (spread of 2" x 1-1/2").

Fretboard's Radius

Smaller radius means a more rounded shape.

youtube.com - understring radius gauges - video demonstration of three different gauges used for guitar setup and fretwork: standard, notched and understring.

Fret Sizes

Smallnarrowlowvintage Fender
Me­di­umnarrowhighmany Martins
Medium Jumbowidelowmany Gibsons
Jum­bowidehighmoderne Fender
High Jum­bowidevery highmany Ibanez

lutherie.net - provides an excellent manufacturer/sizes overview.

Common Neck Head Shapes

Tuner Holes

Small holes can be enlarged with a sunk. Big holes can be retrofited by adapter bushings.

Guitar Bodies

Guitar Bodies

The sound of electric guitar depends mainly on the vibration behavior of the string itself and the reproduction characteristics of the pickup. The vibration behavior of the string depends (very little) on wood. The body itself is very thick compared to the neck, that is why the body wood type and form have very limited influence on the sound of electric guitar.

music.stackexchange.com - how much does electric guitar's body physics affect the tone and playability.

Body Shapes

The shape of an electric guitar can historically be divided into the following categories:

Bridge And Pickup Routing Overview

Bridge Routing

Picture left to right:

callahamguitar.com - technical specifications of some coustom parts.

Flat Mount Strat Routing

               Strat Vintage, Narrow & Standard                   
Sites holes    ...o.o.o.o.o.o...      
Bridge holes   ..o.....o.....o..     
ModelE/eSites holes ØSites holes distanceBridge hole ØBridge holes distance
Strat Vintage57 mm (2 1/4")3.18 mm (0.125")10.5 mm (0.413")3 mm (1/8")21 mm (.827")
Strat Vintage Narrow54 mm (2 1/8")4.78 mm (0.188")10.5 mm (0.413")3 mm (1/8")21 mm (.827")
Strat Standard52.83 mm (2.08")3.18 mm (0.125")11.3 mm (0.446")3 mm (1/8")22.6 mm (.89")

Flat Mount Tele Routing

             Tele Vintage                          Tele Standard         
Bridge holes ..o...o...o...o..      Sites holes    ...o.o.o.o.o.o... 
Sites holes  ...o.o.o.o.o.o...      Bridge holes   ..o.....o.....o.. 
ModelE/eSites holes ØSites holes distanceBridge hole ØBridge hole distance
Tele Vintage54 mm (2 1/8")3.18 mm (0.125")10.9 mm (.429")3 mm (1/8")21.6 mm (.85")
Tele Standard54 mm (2 1/8")3.18 mm (0.125")10.5 mm (0.413")3 mm (1/8")32.4 mm (1.267")

Flat Mount Schaller Routing

             Schaller Flat Mount
Bridge holes ...o.....o.....o... 
ModelE/eBridge hole ØBridge holes distanceDimensions (LxWxH)
Schaller 47X51 mm - 55,5 mm3.18mm (0.125")approx. X73 x 49 x 12(15) mm

Tremolo Routing

Tremolo "Vintage":         Tremolo "Standard":
..o..o..o..o..o...o...      .....O.......O.....
ModelE/eHolesHole DistanceHole Ø
Mexico Strat52,4 mm (2 1/16)652,4 mm (2 1/16)3 mm (1/8")
Vintage56,36 mm (2 7/32")655,9 mm (2.2")3 mm (1/8")
American Standard52,83 mm (2.08")255,9 mm (2.2")9,5 mm (.375")
Floyd Rose ("recessed")53 mm (2-3/32")274 mm (2.913")9,91 mm (.390")
Schaller 200053,5 mm256 mm10 mm
Schaller vintage53,5 mm274,3 mm10 mm
Wilkinson ("recessed")54 mm (2-1/8")255,9 mm (2.2")9,7 mm (.382")

Tune-O-Matic Gibson Style Routing

             Tune-O-Matic Recessed   Tune-O-Matic "Strings through the body"
Tailpiece    ..........o......
Tailpiece    ....o............     ....o.o.o.o.o.o...
Bridge       ..o..........o...     ..o............o..
ModelE/eBridgeTailpieceTailpiece TopTailpiece BottomTailpiece Ø
Tune-O-Maticca. 52 mm*74 mm (2.91")approx 82 mm*38 mm (1.49")41 mm (1.61")approx. 11 mm (0.44")

Instead tailpiece - there may be "strings through the body" drillings.

Other Rare Bridge Variants

Pickup Routing

*Wide Humbucker (same as Seymourduncans "Trembucker" or Dimarzios "F-spaced Hambucker") can be used for guitars with larger string distance with standard "Humbucker Routing". Measure from the middle of the high string to the middle of the low string, directly over the pickup. If the distance is greater than two inches or 50mm, go for a Wide Humbucker.

Exact specifications can be found on the manufacturer's website like:

bareknucklepickups.co.uk - dimensions

In addition to classic HH routing (2X hambuckers), there are the following variants: - SSS (Strat, Nashville Tele)

Tuning Machines

tuning machine head

Tuning Machines Options:



Guitar bridge has large influence on playability (mainly through string spacing). Wider string spacing is better for finger-picking style, narrow spacing gives easier control when playing leads with distorted tone. Bridge and Pickup Routing chapter above describes common bridge categories with string spacing specification.

Bridge form and material have also some influence on sound. Good manufacturers provide detailed product information on their pages:

ABM - Aluminium, Bell Brass and Steel comparison - indicates that Bell Brass and Steel shape the guitar sound with character, while Aluminum acts largely neutral in the transfer of tone.

Hardware Parts Checklist


The following list summarizes the accessories that are required to complete your own guitar building project

For each screw, the hole must be pre-drilled to the core diameter (not outer diameter)



Electronics exerts greatest influence on the overall sound of a solid-body electric guitar.

buildyourguitar.com - The Secrets of Electric Guitar Pickups by Lemme - "If you know the resonant frequency and height of the resonant peak, you know about 90 percent of a pickup's transfer characteristics. Some other effects cannot be described using this model, but their influence is less important".

Frequency response of a magnetic pickup may look like this resonant peak and frequency

Sound groupResonant frequencyResonant peakExample Pickup
bright3 - 6kHzhigh peakFender single coils
powerful2 - 3kHzmedium high peakGibson PAF
mellow1.5 - 2kHzlow peakRolling back tone pot

Following topics change resonant frequency and resonant peak:

Pickup Properties

pickup properties

seymourduncan.com - pickup selector
dimarzio.com - pickup picker

Classic humbuckers are asymmetrical. They are internally wired in series (i.e. serial - brings more power) in opposite phase (less noise). The current multi-Con­ductor PUs offer the option of switching the coils differently using push / pull pots, mini switches, toggles, mega switches and rotary switches, and allow broad control over the sound directly on the guitar.

Con­ductorsConnection TypeCoil SplitSeriell/ParallelPhase SwitchExample
1xAsymmetricalHumbucker ModeSeriellNoShadow AZ48
2xSymmetricalHumbucker ModeSeriellYesFender Wide Range (Mexico)
2xAsymmetricalHumbucker & Single Coil ModeSeriellNoBenedetto B6
3xSymmetricalHumbucker & Single Coil ModeSeriellYesviele aktive PUs
3xAsymmetricalHumbucker & Single Coil ModeSeriell and ParallelNoPRS 59
4xSymmetricalHumbucker & Single Coil ModeSeriell and ParallelYesall 4-Con­ductor PUs

Sound Control with Switches

electronics wiring options

SwitchCoil SplitSeriell/ParallelPhase SwitchPU switch
Toggle Switch---y
Blade Switch "Fender"---y
X-Way-Blade "Megaswitch"yyyy
Mini-Switch SPDT(ON/ON)y---
Mini-Switch SPDT(ON/OFF/ON)y---
Mini-Switch SPDT(ON/OFF/ON)y-y-
Mini-Switch DPDT(ON/ON)yyy-
Push/Pull-Pot DPDT(ON/OFF/ON)yyy-
Mini-Switch DPDT(ON/ON/ON)yyyy

SP = Single Pole, DP = Double Pole, DT = Double Throw

SPDT (ON/OFF/ON):     	SPDT (ON/ON):     
0 X X | 0 0 0 | X X 0   0 X X | X X 0     

0 X X | 0 0 0 | X X 0   0 X X | X X 0     0 X X | X X 0 | X X 0
0 X X | 0 0 0 | X X 0   0 X X | X X 0     0 X X | 0 X X | X X 0

Example: "Seriell/Parallel und Coil Split at same time" are possible with 4 Push/Pull Pots, 4 Mini-switches (i.e. duncan triple shot) or by 5-Way Blade Megaswitch

open.guitars (german) - Hambucker Conductor/Coils switching options.

Potentiometer and Capacitor Values

cap values

Sound groupPotCapExamples
standard hambucker500K0.047mFmost hambucker equipped guitars
bright500K0.022mFsome guitars (U.S. FAT Tele)
brighter500K0.01mFsome custom models
brightest1M0.01mFsome custom models
standard singele coils250K0.022mFmost strat & tele models
jazzy250K0.047mFsome teles (ASAT BluesBoy)

http://www.planetz.com/guitar-tone-capacitors-material-types - comparison of tone capacitor material types and capacitance values.

Volume and Tone Potentiometer Options

volume and tone pot

GroupPot body ØBushing ØBushing lengthShaft lengthExample
standard24 mm8 mm10 mm19 mmmost fender guitars
mini17 mm7 mm10 mm'>' 17 mmmany jazz guitars
long24 mm8 mm20 mm27,5 mmmost Gibson LP guitars

Potentiometer Knob Styles


There are 3 common styles of knobs:

philadelphialuthiertools.com - Choosing the correct knob for your guitar or bass.

Electronics Wiring Schemas

electronics wiring schemas

Active Pickups Electronics

active pickups

Active Electronics tries to reduce dependency from the shielded cable and amp input impedance. However, that needs power to operate, and that's its biggest drawback.

Custom Buffers (german) - used to decouple the guitar electronics from the sound influencing effects on the shielded cable.



Depending on following options your sound will be more bright or more mellow:

Most manufacturers use following naming convention to describe tension of string set:

Name'e' site approx.'E' site approx.

There are also other hybrid sets available - like "Light Top/Heavy Bottom" and "Balanced Tension" combinations.

daddario.com - you can choose between bright and mellow sounding electric strings.
ghsstrings.com - also bright vs mellow overview, and tension guide (pdf)
thomastik-infeld.com - good jazz and blues strings

Scale Length


A guitar's scale length is length of string between the nut and the bridge.

Scale has a relatively low impact on sound and playability of the guitar. (Compared with other parameters such as strings or pickups).

Longer scale length sound and playability characteristics:

Shorter scale length sound characteristics:

Common Scale Length:



WoodsSound¹Weight²Used for³Looks
AlderbrightmediumT/Bbright, simple
AshbrightmediumT/Bbright, simple
BasswoodneutrallightBbright, simple
BubingabrightmediumT/B/N/Fred, often grained
Maplevery brightheavyT/B/N/Fbright, often grained
KoawarmmediumT/B/Ndark, grained, attractive
KorinawarmmediumT/B/Ngrained, attractive
PoplarneutralmediumBbright, simple
Sitka SpruceneutrallightT/Bbright, simple
Swamp-AshneutrallightT/Bbright, attractive
WalnutbrightmediumT/B/Ngray, attractive

¹ Sound: the diagram for effects on tone stands mainly for acoustic instruments and NOT for solid body guitars, where other components have much larger impact on sound. Thus, a mahogany electric guitar can sound bright despite the representations below. ² Weight may vary for the same variety. ³ Used for: T - Body Top | B - Body | N - neck | F - fretboards

frudua.com - graphical examples for body and neck woods showing relationship between wood hardness, its density and tone.