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Brum Brum

Acquiring Skills and Tools

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Hi

I would love to build a guitar from scratch but am a long way off doing so at the moment as I really don't have the skills or tools necessary... yet!

I do have a decent set of home DIY tools and realise I'll need more dedicated tools in the the long run and coming from an engineering background (although a long time ago) I developed confidence and an eye for doing things properly.

Thinking about the whole process it is probably the finishing that I'm least confident about. 

My thoughts are rather than jump in at the deep end I should buy a cheapish kit and learn about setups, fret levelling and finishes.

In my minds eye I want to do a set neck LPJ DC and finish in TV Yellow. 

I've seen some Chinese kits which are reasonably priced and whilst may not be the best they will allow me some money to spend on tools and give me some challenges on the way: ) See below.

Kit 1

Kit 2

Any immediate thoughts about these kits? I'd probably go for the cheapest option as it has all the bits to complete (though are probably of poor quality and still may need replacing). I think Kit 2 may be slightly more accurate.

If anyone has had a Musoo kit, I'd be interested in your thoughts about quality of woods and general experience.

Thinking about finishes, can a mahogany guitar be stained TV Yellow and finished with oil to any degree of success? Or should I be thinking nitro?

All thoughts and comments welcomed: )

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Welcome to the forum. If you've already got some tools and a modicum of perfectionism (it sounds like you have) then you're already 75% of the way there. I was in your shoes about 18 months ago, had no prior woodworking or setup experience and didn't bother with kits. I would recommend you dive in to the woodworking too, researching each step as you go and you will learn the skills on the fly, 

Get some good templates, G&W sell templates for a lot of common  designs which are reasonably priced, they also sell good African mahogany blanks which I've used on several builds.

https://guitarsandwoods.com/templates/lp-junior-acrylic-templates.html

There is a wealth of information on youtube and some really smart people on here that will give the answers you need if you get stuck. 

Manchester guitar tech sells TV yellow nitro in a spray can, which should achieve the finish you want, if you decide to do the woodworking then you've probably got a couple of months to research your finishing before you get there.

https://www.manchesterguitartech.co.uk/product/tv-yellow-nitrocellulose-lacquer-aerosol/ 

Good luck whatever route you decide to start with, and be warned - it can lead to an obsession in no time. I've built about 8 guitars in the last 18 months and have a few more on the go :D 

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4 hours ago, Brum Brum said:

I should buy a cheapish kit and learn about setups, fret levelling and finishes.

that's close to absolutely correct.... but I'd suggest just finding a beater first... take it apart... do the frets.. and put it back together.... several times... 

focus on mastering the fret leveling and setup... without that anything you build will be little more than an assemblage of parts... it takes the setup to convert that into a musical instrument...

here's some "stuff" I did decade ago.. perhaps it will help;p as you enter our hobby..

Ron Kirn

 

http://jpbturbo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Tele_template-illustrated-reader-spreads.pdf

http://jpbturbo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Tele-reader-spreads.pdf

http://jpbturbo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Setup-reader-spreads.pdf

http://www.tdpri.com/forum/tele-technical/201556-fret-leveling-yer-tele-101-a.html

http://jpbturbo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Strat-reader-spreads.pdf

http://jpbturbo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Strat_template-illustrated-reader-spreads.pdf

http://jpbturbo.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Nitro-New-reader-spreads.pdf

http://www.tdpri.com/forum/stratocaster-discussion-forum/104487-ok-so-i-promised-here-ya.html

 

 

 

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Will only you know your skill level and where you want to start. I would say as far as tools the only thing you really need is a router and a jigsaw. As far as Chinese kits probably not a bad place to learn, but I'd try a bolt-on before I'd go for a set neck.

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Thanks all for the advice and links.... Ron that is some amazing info you have shared: )

To date I've done most things with regard to guitar setups apart from fret levelling. I need to buy a couple of crowning files and some fret protectors whilst looking for a usable piece of corian  (thanks for the tip Ron). I do have fret rocker and notched straightedge.

I am tempted to jump in at the deep end but head keeps saying take it easy there's plenty of time: )

Thanks again

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think of it like golf... lotta amateurs buy a set of clubs, yank the driver outta the bag and hit the driving range pounding balls every which-a-way except straight.... and continue until their hands bleed.... 

thing is.. the driver is used maybe 10 times a round..(for those that have a basic understanding of the game) . . .   however the putter.. something few ever practice seriously, is good for about 30 = 40 strokes a round for the amateur..... a little practice with THAT thing and you can shave some real numbers off the old handicap...

Learn the unglamorous stuff first.. its where the real difference between a "store bought" and a good project guitar exists..

 

r

 

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With cheap kits there's always the risk that a) the neck doesn't sit snugly in the neck pocket and b) even if it does, the holes aren't in the right places. As @Ronkirn said, get a cheap used guitar with the basics right and use that for learning. Start by exploring and fixing every issue with it, refret it, reshape the neck if needed or at least refinish it to your liking. When you've got it to play perfectly, build a new body for the neck to learn where to put the bridge and how to fit the neck etc. When you're happy with that, build a new neck for the old body to get another well playing guitar. If you've done them right, the parts should be swappable and you should know everything that's needed to build a guitar from scratch.

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Probably a few prudent comments above but I did go ahead and ordered a Les Paul Junior kit, £135 delivered not cheap, cheap but I'm hoping for something reasonable. I have a few neck related tools tools fret rocker, notched straight edge but will but a decent crowning file (probably go for something from Crimson in the UK), I'll do some searching round our local kitchen worktop suppliers see if I can get some corian for the fret levelling beam but otherwise will buy a dedicated tool.

Hopefully the neck will be reasonable and not need too much work but if it is Steve Robinson Manchester Guitar Tech is very reasonable and has a great reputation so would let him take a look (last resort though).

All being well I'll do a build thread to show my progress. 

I'll take my time and hopefully do a good enough job to encourage me to work towards building from scratch.

I have done basic setups on around 12-15 guitars and always felt I've improved the playability of them so if the neck doesn't have any issues I don't have any worries.

 

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right on Brum... I think you'll be fine.  When/if you do run into problems... reach out and you'll get the help you need.  With resources like some of the veterans we have here... you can't possibly go wrong!  (Ask me how I know)

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1 hour ago, Brum Brum said:

..... so if the neck doesn't have any issues I don't have any worries.

 

Just reread what I wrote... I don't have any worries. That's not quite right, I'll definitely have lots of semi worries. Mentally I need to get my head around a few points.

Any info on making sure the neck angle is correct (before gluing) or pointing in the direction of good articles would be appreciated.

 

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(going to let that ask air out as I don't have experience in that topic but many here do)

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2 hours ago, Brum Brum said:

Any info on making sure the neck angle is correct (before gluing)

That's basically easy. You just put the neck into the cavity. If it's loose, use a clamp. Then put the bridge to the right location. Then lay a long straight edge along the fretboard and over the bridge. If you have the nut in place, it helps. The frets help some too, but you can always add their height to the formula. Basically you should have an even clearance from the nut to the bridge all along the fretboard.

The image may help, the straight line is your straightedge:

Thrunek.thumb.JPG.6fe6ca04eed63deaf0d56f75d74d9f43.JPG

 

 

 

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38 minutes ago, Bizman62 said:

That's basically easy. You just put the neck into the cavity. If it's loose, use a clamp. Then put the bridge to the right location. Then lay a long straight edge along the fretboard and over the bridge. If you have the nut in place, it helps. The frets help some too, but you can always add their height to the formula. Basically you should have an even clearance from the nut to the bridge all along the fretboard.

The image may help, the straight line is your straightedge:

Thrunek.thumb.JPG.6fe6ca04eed63deaf0d56f75d74d9f43.JPG

 

 

 

Thanks, that makes sense.

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that's exactly how I do it... however note.. to do so you must have your parts available... despite all the hoopla, parts guaranteed to be to specs.. are usually specced out in Chinenglish .. not SAE standards..

Having your parts at the ready allows you to "dry fit" them as you proceed, that way you know when the lacquer is dried and polished, everything;s gonna work out within the margin of correction allowed for by the adjustments .,

 

r

 

 

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Not seen this thread yet! Very cool. I saw Chinese kits mentioned, and the one thing I have to say about those is that some things - such as the truss rod - are baked into those, and you literally have no idea of how well (or not) they were fabricated and installed. Whilst you can learn a lot from using the kits to get past several stages of the first woodworking stages, you should always bear in mind that there's a lot of things that will be out of your control in the finished instrument. The neck might not bend uniformly, the rod might not allow fine grained control over relief and the fretwork might be cheese grade. That said, identifying these flaws in a kit build helps you figure out how and where to extend your skills back through the build process.

So yes, you can learn a lot but you have to manage expectations and figure out how to take as much from the game as possible, even when you might be ending up with less than perfect end result due to the infusion of Chinesium.

The thing about these kit makers is this.....they don't have to provide any real quality or warranty on the product as a kit. To make it work you have to change and work on it, by which point any warranty is kind of moot. You cut and sand it, you own it. On that basis, very few kit manufacturers really provide a solid basis for an excellent end result and certainly not at the cheap Chinesium end of things.

That reminds me....I wonder what Fast Guitars are up to these days....?

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