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M3521

SG Guitar Kit Build Video Series

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I've been restoring guitars and basses for a little while and I've decided to take on my first kit build as a stepping stone to building an instrument from scratch.  I'll be building a Gibson SG replica.  Additionally, I'm going to document it in a video series!

 

I just published the first episode which covers unboxing and initial inspection.

 

Episode #1: Unboxing

 

 

I think a lot of the concepts that I learn through this process could be helpful if you're also learning guitar/bass building.  I'm certainly not a trained luthier, but hopefully this helps someone else learn as well.

 

I'll keep this thread updated as I add new videos.  I'm taking this pretty slow so I expect this will take a while.

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New episode!    If you like watching stuff get put together super fast, the first two minutes are for you!  If you like to nerd out over graphs and measurements the rest is for you!

 

Episode #2: Dry Fit and Measurements

 

Edited by M3521

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You mentioned in the first video you were thinking about upgrading pickups?  Any thoughts on what you might go for?   I have a 2002 SG supreme, and I put BurstBuckers 1 and 3 in it, and man they shred.  The neck is huge and smooth, and the bridge screams.  I have a 500T in the bridge of my paul, and that one sounds pretty amazing too :)

How do the bridge saddles look?  The stock gibson bridge on my SG was pretty poor.  There was burs and the chrome was lumpy etc.  I put graphtec saddles on an aftermarket bridge in the end. 

Fun stuff 

-Brett

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Interesting stuff Megan - I'll pick this up tomorrow and see if frontpaging the videos is a good idea! Kit reviews are always useful since they're a gateway for most people!

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On 3/9/2016 at 7:02 PM, BetterOffShred said:

You mentioned in the first video you were thinking about upgrading pickups?  Any thoughts on what you might go for?   I have a 2002 SG supreme, and I put BurstBuckers 1 and 3 in it, and man they shred.  The neck is huge and smooth, and the bridge screams.  I have a 500T in the bridge of my paul, and that one sounds pretty amazing too :)

How do the bridge saddles look?  The stock gibson bridge on my SG was pretty poor.  There was burs and the chrome was lumpy etc.  I put graphtec saddles on an aftermarket bridge in the end. 

Fun stuff 

-Brett

Hey@BetterOffShred!  Not sure on pickups yet!  The easy choice would be going with Gibson stock (490R/498T), but it will be hard to resist the urge to customize it.  BurstBuckers must sound killer!

I think I'm going to order a new bridge.  The saddles have deep grooves but they appear to have been cast vs filed.  I expected them to have a light notch and then I'd file them for the radius.  I'm not sure how close they are to the 12" radius.  I'm thinking a Gotoh tune-o-matic for the replacement.  Do you have any experience with the quality of Gotoh bridges?  They seem to get good reviews.

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19 hours ago, Prostheta said:

Interesting stuff Megan - I'll pick this up tomorrow and see if frontpaging the videos is a good idea! Kit reviews are always useful since they're a gateway for most people!

That'd be great @Prostheta! Thanks!  That's exactly what it is for me.  A stepping stone into a full build.

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1 hour ago, M3521 said:

 Do you have any experience with the quality of Gotoh bridges?

I've used several Gotoh tele bridges and find the quality to be outstanding. And so far Gotoh tuners are the only brand I've ever used and they are likewise excellent. From what I've seen they make very good stuff.

SR

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Very thorough inspection! Too bad about the fret spacing. I am very curious to see how much it effects the play of the guitar.

Also, I had never noticed the difference in bevel between the Epiphone and Gibson SGs until you pointed it out in your video. So far, as a non-woodworker, that kind of work has been the hardest thing for me to learn. At least, having it look good.

What kind of music do you play? (I'm asking for pick-up consideration.)

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I have also used a few gotoh bridges in my day and have loved them. 

And also like Scott, I only use gotoh tuners, I have used many brands (schaller, Grover, etc.) and tried gotoh about 10 years ago, those are the first thing I buy when I get a new guitar anymore. I would really like to try hipshots tuners. 

Edited by 2.5itim
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Good to see this kind of video documentation happening. By all means, please continue.

The one and only Gotoh tune-o-matic bridge I ever used was very good value for money at the time. Just be sure that the unit you get will match the stud spacing and stud diameters of your existing bridge and tailpiece, otherwise you'll be making more work for yourself plugging the existing holes and re-drilling them for the new studs.

Re, the scale length issues: is the nut correctly located relative to the frets? If you measure from 12th fret to, say the 1st fret is the measurement more acceptable for a given scale length?

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8 hours ago, sirspens said:

What kind of music do you play? (I'm asking for pick-up consideration.)

I'll play all kinds, but I think I'll optimize this for a classic rock vibe.

Edited by M3521

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2 hours ago, curtisa said:

Re, the scale length issues: is the nut correctly located relative to the frets? If you measure from 12th fret to, say the 1st fret is the measurement more acceptable for a given scale length?

Yeah, the nut position appears to be off.  I did consider adding a shim (first fret was too close to the nut).  This would improve the fret positions on the lower frets, but then the higher frets are further off.

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11 hours ago, M3521 said:

I'll play all kinds, but I think I'll optimize this for a classic rock vibe.

No reason not to go with the Gibson 490R / 498T setup, then. And you can find them all over ebay and Reverb for a good price.

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12 hours ago, M3521 said:

Yeah, the nut position appears to be off.  I did consider adding a shim (first fret was too close to the nut).  This would improve the fret positions on the lower frets, but then the higher frets are further off.

Sorry, you did mention that in the video. I misunderstood what you meant by shimming the nut (further away from the bridge).

While it may be mathematically off, it's probable that your ears will struggle to hear the small errors you're measuring. Also bear in mind that a 1/64" error in the lower frets will result in significantly less pitch error than a 1/64" error in the higher frets. If you can compensate the nut position so that the error in the frets above the 12th is the lesser of the two evils, you'll probably have a guitar that still performs Thunderstruck as well as any other.

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Videos pushed to the front page and Facebook :-)

Stellar work on the videos. If only other people were as thorough yet to the point.

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For some reason, I've only just caught up with this, Megan.  An exceptionally comprehensive review....never seen anything quite like it before.

Can't wait for the next video!

Andy

 

 

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I've been dragging my feet on this next video.  The next step I'd like to cover is adjusting the neck angle.  Ideally, with the neck in place, a straight edge resting on the frets of the neck should just touch the top of the bridge in its lowest position.  I have quite a lot of clearance, so I need to adjust the neck angle.  I've considered a few options for doing this:

  1. Do nothing.  Accept the fact that I'll have to raise the bridge really high to get good string action.
  2. Change the angle of the neck pocket on the body.  Right now the neck pocket does not have an angle cut into it.  The angle is entirely created by the neck.  Based on this I don't think I want to modify the angle of the neck pocket.
  3. Change the angle on the guitar neck.  This seems to be the best choice.  The problem is that stakes are high. If I mess it up I could easily need a new neck.
  4. Shim the neck.  I've seen a lot of information on shimming a bolt on neck, but I can't find much on glued in neck.  I'm not sure it if would affect the strength of the contact.

I'm leaning toward #3, but if #4 is possible it would be easier.  Any recommendations/experience to share?

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Good hearing from you. I'm just about heading out of the door on a chanterelle hunt, however I'll pick up on these a little later. They're questions that deserve a full and considered answer.

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Quick and dirty suggestions/opinions:

On 7/14/2016 at 3:18 PM, M3521 said:

Do nothing.  Accept the fact that I'll have to raise the bridge really high to get good string action.

The easiest option provided you have enough adjustability in the bridge to make it work, and can live with the look/feel of an overly-high tailpiece.

 

On 7/14/2016 at 3:18 PM, M3521 said:

Change the angle of the neck pocket on the body.

Will be tricky to achieve without the use of a router and a jig to angle the cut properly. Definitely the hardest option.

 

On 7/14/2016 at 3:18 PM, M3521 said:

Change the angle on the guitar neck

May possibly be not that hard to achieve. Careful planning and some kind of flat surface to attach some sandpaper may be all that is required. And if it all goes belly up you'll have to resort to the fallback plan and..:

 

On 7/14/2016 at 3:18 PM, M3521 said:

Shim the neck.

Which will probably have more than enough strength to hold the neck in place under the tension of the strings, despite it being more of a bolt-on neck remedy. Provided the shim covers the full area of the mating surfaces in the neck pocket I can't really see why gluing a neck with a shim would be any less secure than gluing the neck without.

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Thanks for stepping up Andrew. Been a busy few days collecting and cleaning berries and mushrooms from the forests to stock the freezers up. 

I agree with this summation. It all depends on how tooled up you are and how confident you feel about carrying out any of the suggestions. A shim should be perfectly flat on both sides and contain a specific angle. It can be a challenge. If you know the angle, I'm happy to make you a custom shim and mail it out. If not, it can be calculated and mailed out anyway.

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I put some thought into this today, Megan. You're trying to reduce the neck angle, which is in some ways a little simpler than trying to increase it. I'll put my money into option 3, however I will explain how to reduce that risk factor.

Firstly, do not sand this by hand. Instead, take a full sheet or long strip of sandpaper and mount it onto a guaranteed-flat surface. A long one. The action you should be using is a drawing action, pulling the neck towards yourself so that the bottom of the heel is in contact with the abrasive start to end. No "running onto and running off" as this produces an uneven action, and hence uneven surface.

Looking at the heel in your video photo, I would (presuming right-handed?) stand with the table to my right, holding the neck around the twelfth with my right hand, placing my left on the top of the protruding lip and applying pressure there. Pulling back with the right hand whilst bearing down with the left should remove more material from the end than the leading edge. A coarse grit (100-120) should be about right. Test fit every 3-4 strokes depending on how strong you are!

The downside to this is that it is very uncontrolled in dialling in a specific angle. You lose depth whilst reducing angle, whereas ideally you need only to be removing enough to change the angle solely.

Shims are more appropriate for increasing angle for set necks since otherwise the "thick" end of the wedge is at the visible side of the neck joint. They will still work, however there's that aesthetic downside to consider.

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Also....how high is "really" high? A lot of old Gibsons vaunted as sounding particularly sweet also have high bridge settings with ABR-1s. I guess a lot of this will be coloured by voodoo and "empty vintage expectation" but there seems to be a correlation regardless. If this "really" high is getting beyond the reasonable placement height of the instrument or is detrimental in some other aspect, then make a judgement on it. Doing nothing might in fact be a positive if these is validity in the "high bridge=good tone" theory.

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A high bridge on a solid body is really doing no more than adding a little string angle behind the saddles, which is generally considered a good thing. And when you consider the variety of angles you get when comparing string through bridges to stop tails to wrap rounds that are all considered acceptable, you see the few degrees difference is no big deal at all. I personally like quite a bit of string clearance over the body and a fairly low action which typically means some neck angle and raised saddles on my bridges.

SR 

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