Backpacker Guitar

Here are some helps and hints to make your own Backpacker Guitar.  This project takes some knowledge and skill, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a first instrument building project.

Parts and supplies:

  • 6 tuners
  • Compass inlay
  • 2 inches of bass fretwire (for the zero nut)
  • Enough guitar fretwire for 15 frets
  • 2 strap buttons
  • Angled aluminum and aluminum tube for the bridge
  • Material for the string turnaround
  • Metal rivets (to make string ferrules for the ball ends)
  • A set of “extra light” acoustic guitar strings
  • Solid hardwood at least 24 inches long, 3.5 inches wide, and 1 inch thick.
  • Wood at least 9.5 inches long, 3.5 inches wide, and 1/8 inch thick (for the back)

The rectangular body section is 9.75 by 3.5 inches.  After the 9.75 inches, it curves in towards the neck.

Making the turnaround is very important.  I modified the turnaround so that each of the strings turn independently on its own roller.  That is not shown in the video.  The string spacing (from string 1 to string 6) at the bridge and turnaround is 52 mm.  The string spacing at the zero fret is 36 mm.

I recommend that you print out the fret template, and combine it with the dimensions of the body.  The tines of the of the body are around .5 inch wide.



Download and print the fretboard below:




14 thoughts on “Backpacker Guitar

  1. Jesse L. Hofmann

    That is amazing. I just might have to try this. I have been looking for a practice guitar to use a t my desk, something that would sound like an electric guitar without an amp so only I could hear it. would there be a way to do both with this? also, the turnaround seems to be a tough part with the limited tools I have, so I was curious how much longer it would have to be to not use the turnaround and just extend it straight out?

  2. Donal Dawson

    Hello there, My son and I have been inspired by your guitar but have a few questions before starting out on our own version. The strings for the guitar, do they have to be nylon or can they be steel without a truss rod? In relation to the frets do you recommend pre curved or straight frets and finally, the 2 inches of bass fretwire (for the zero nut) that you recommend, what do you mean by this, is it 2.9mm or 2.7mm fret wire? Any info would be great.

    1. danielhulbert Post author

      Hi Donal,

      I used steel acoustic strings. If you get a solid piece of wood, you can go without the truss rod. My fretboard is flat, like a classical guitar. Either of those sizes of bass fretwire would work. I used 2.7mm wide bass fretwire from StewMac.

      Good luck!

      1. Dustin

        Doh! I already have the traveller guitar but absolutely love what you’ve done. Please let me know if that ever changes! This might be the nudge I need to just build one 🙂 Thanks Daniel!

  3. Diana

    Hi! These are amazing, and you’re so awesome for all of your creativity and skill and for sharing your plans with us! Do you have any plans for making any more of these soon or within the next year? I’ve seen other traveling/backpacking guitars but there’s something about your guitar that stands out and above the rest.


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