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The Guitar Experience

The Guitar Experience project aimed to build a custom guitar as a personal gift while staying within budget. The project evolved into a new learning experience and hobby. The focus was on creating a guitar that reflected the guitarist's identity and resonated with their audience.

Project Role

My role in this project was researcher, designer, tester, and creator.

Problem

The Guitar Experience aimed to create a custom guitar at an affordable price point, as existing options in the market were often too expensive. Through the project, the creator aimed to learn a new skill and create a personalized gift for a friend that reflected their personality and musical style. By building a fully custom guitar, the project demonstrated the potential for individuals to create unique instruments without breaking the bank.

Goal

This project aimed to create a fully customized guitar that reflects the personality of the guitarist and fits within a reasonable budget. To achieve this, a high-fidelity prototype was created that could be played at shows and rival professional-grade guitars. The goal was to combat the issue of high prices for custom guitars, and the high-fidelity prototype was created as a gift for a close friend.

Research

As a product designer without access to power tools, I opted to purchase a guitar kit to customize. After researching various guitar shapes, I chose the Jaguar shape for its unique design. To ensure a reputable and affordable kit, I researched and selected the kit from 'StewMac'. To create a fully functioning electric guitar, I conducted extensive research through videos, communication with the kit supplier, and other sources to learn the best methods for prepping the guitar wood, selecting the appropriate products, and achieving a professional finish. Through integration of various methods, I established a streamlined process for customization.

Process and Low-Fidelity Prototype

To ensure the success of the project, I created a detailed timeline and a low-fidelity design in Adobe Illustrator. The design included various elements such as The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, interstate exit signs, and the guitarist's pets. Other features incorporated were a Beatles album print, Seinfeld colors, Super Mario Bros., and hippie elements. I then proceeded to paint the guitar in different stages until it was fully assembled. The images below show the progression of the guitar's transformation from a plain piece of wood to a fully customized, functional electric guitar.

Assembly and Testing

After completing the painting process, I proceeded to apply a professional mirror-like finish to the guitar and then assemble it. The assembly process involved screwing the body onto the neck, drilling holes and attaching the bridge, button straps, and pickguard. I then wired the pickups to the pickguard and tested it to make sure everything was working properly. The guitar was strung and tuned and ready to play. After testing it out, I attached the strap and gifted it to the musician. The guitarist was able to express his personality and musical style at a gig with his new custom guitar.

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