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n8caster

Here Goes Nothing - First Time Build

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Welcome!

With no neck tilt (assumed) put lots of attention to neck pocket depth and neck height above the body. That will largely determine action and playability.

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Welcome!

Looks like you are off to a good start. I'm looking forward to seeing this come together.

SR

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1 hour ago, komodo said:

Welcome!

With no neck tilt (assumed) put lots of attention to neck pocket depth and neck height above the body. That will largely determine action and playability.

Thanks! Setting the neck is probably one of the two steps I'm most worried about. That and sawing the fret slots. I've got the correctly sized fret saw from stewmac, but their fret sawing jig was a little beyond my budget for build #1. I'm going to have to figure out how to make my own jig. 

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7 minutes ago, mistermikev said:

like that silver(ish) look to it.  looking fwd to watching your progress.

It does look good in silver! But I actually haven't decided on a color for the finish. I'm almost definitely going to go with a solid color but I'm waiting for the guitar to tell me what color it wants to be lol.

 

I'm definitely open to color suggestions. The pickguard material I bought is black.

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that's probably a better way to do it.  last couple builds I wanted to change the color at the last min cause the wood was pushing me in a dif direction... but I wouldn't let myself because "I set out to do this... I'm doing this!"  who do I think I am?  babe ruth?  just go w the flo.

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12 hours ago, n8caster said:

Thanks! Setting the neck is probably one of the two steps I'm most worried about. That and sawing the fret slots. I've got the correctly sized fret saw from stewmac, but their fret sawing jig was a little beyond my budget for build #1. I'm going to have to figure out how to make my own jig. 

Something like this works a treat and won't break the bank

upbKgkV.jpg

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I also skipped getting a jig for my first build, and I'll probably skip getting one, period... I read on here a few tips for cutting fret slots that I followed and they turned out marvelous:

Draw a center line across the fretboard (will be usefull later when cutting, also, easier to make the frets 90 degrees angle to the centerline)

Use a long ruler with mm markings and mark every fret position with it from the nut. Don't use a caliper measuring fret to fret, errors will accumulate and you'll end up with a bigger mess than just marking them with the long ruler.

I hand cut the slots with a japanese style saw. Use the center line in the reflection of the saw blade to make sure you're holding the saw correctly (you need to be sure you're 90 degrees to the fretboard, and that the cut is 90 degrees to the center line... so if you hold your saw correct, the center line will appear to continue through the blade in the reflection, that's when you know you're holding the saw correct). 

Take your time and enjoy, not much can go wrong if you measure twice and cut carefully 🙂

Edited by Gogzs

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6 hours ago, Muzz said:

Something like this works a treat and won't break the bank

upbKgkV.jpg

I'm glad you posted this image. I was already over-thinking the jig in my head. KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.

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3 hours ago, Gogzs said:

I also skipped getting a jig for my first build, and I'll probably skip getting one, period... I read on here a few tips for cutting fret slots that I followed and they turned out marvelous:

Draw a center line across the fretboard (will be usefull later when cutting, also, easier to make the frets 90 degrees angle to the centerline)

Use a long ruler with mm markings and mark every fret position with it from the nut. Don't use a caliper measuring fret to fret, errors will accumulate and you'll end up with a bigger mess than just marking them with the long ruler.

I hand cut the slots with a japanese style saw. Use the center line in the reflection of the saw blade to make sure you're holding the saw correctly (you need to be sure you're 90 degrees to the fretboard, and that the cut is 90 degrees to the center line... so if you hold your saw correct, the center line will appear to continue through the blade in the reflection, that's when you know you're holding the saw correct). 

Take your time and enjoy, not much can go wrong if you measure twice and cut carefully 🙂

Great tips!

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10 minutes ago, n8caster said:

Great tips!

Yeah, can't remember where on this forum exactly I read them, but I was in the same boat as you few weeks ago (first build) and it turned out beyond my expectations.

Here's a visual explanation of using the reflections in the blade as a guide. Obviously I didn't cut the ruler, just used it to demonstrate the thought behind... you'll be looking at the center line and its reflection. 

9pPwNWu.jpg

Or build a rig, I was too lazy to build one... 🙂

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Welcome. Nice looking guitar 

As Gogzs says, you don't really need a jig for the fret slots if you're careful. After marking out I use a set square and score a line with a Stanley knife. Then go over the line again with a thick bladed knife. That creates a guide slot for your saw. You then only have to concentrate on keeping the blade vertical. Stop if you get tired and carry on when you're refreshed. Rushing or working when tired is when the mistakes happen 🙂

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Welcome to the forum, you don't need any jig to cut fret slots. I find it's easiest to glue on and radius your fretboard, then cut the slots. That way you don't have to saw very much at all and it's much harder to go wrong. If you slot a fretboard blank first, there is a lot more work to do in sawing through waste wood and you have to worry about glueing the board on perfectly straight.

This is how I do it

 

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Hi All,

Sorry for the long time between posts! I'm finding that I'm a more diligent builder than blogger :)

Anyway, I've made a bit of progress on this build. Still a long way to go, but honestly I'm quite proud of how far I've managed to get so far. It's starting to look like a real guitar! 

I started by making templates from 1/8" plywood and then transferring those to MDF. I used the plywood first because it was a bit easier for me to shape and transferring to the MDF helped me practice with the router. I was then able to cut out the body blank.

Neck Templates

IMG_2806.thumb.jpg.fd60b8f47fa3f54ac0662f112efc2cc7.jpg

This is where I ran into my first issue. I didn't realize until after I cut out the templates that my blueprints were about an 5% oversized. Not a huge deal for the body, but the neck needed to be trimmed down to avoid scale length issues later in the build.

Trimmed Down Neck Template

IMG_2813.thumb.jpg.ad3933a81527a2a562bc0b092cf13fc1.jpg

Body Templates and Routed Body Blank

IMG_2805.thumb.jpg.7635adda78912165c0d44d7ba90c408a.jpg

 

I also cut the templates for routing pickup and electronic cavities. I didn't buy a pre-made template for this, so I'm super pleased at how the cavity shapes look. I'm waiting to get the neck in position before routing the cavities in the actual body.

Pickup and Electronics Template

 IMG_2812.thumb.jpg.4d216bf09923b775506acbc22eeb6233.jpg

 

Next I went to work on the neck. First step was to get the truss rod channel routed. I'm using the StewMac hot rod with a spoke nut. I routed most of the channel with the appropriate sized bit, and had to hand chisel the larger recesses for the spoke nut. This was my first attempt at chiseling, and again I'm pleased that I didn't butcher it.

Truss Rod Channel

IMG_2820.thumb.jpg.1b2878c838278048472dd112add02f67.jpg

IMG_2819.thumb.jpg.02e4ffceede6516b48787822bc774ee7.jpg

 

I had to resaw a thick offcut of rosewood I bought on the cheap on my bandsaw (this is my first project after all...), and managed to plane it down to the appropriate thickness. I built a jig to work with my fret scale template for cutting frets and went to work.

Fret Slotting Jig with Indexing Pin

IMG_2801.thumb.jpg.31b21fd852e0b7b7b0c9d9fd3ba77d76.jpg

 

Slotting Action Shot

IMG_2800.thumb.jpg.a97a69e644ef02060d823ca9bcec4491.jpg

 

Fretboard Glue-up

IMG_2825.thumb.jpg.5192745ba51c9193040517e71c5f9f93.jpg

 

Then I routed out the neck with my template, and things are starting to look promising! I cut out an access for truss rod adjustments just past the 22nd fret. I think this looks a little more elegant then having the rod poke out into the body with an access cut into the pick guard. 

 

Truss Rod Access

IMG_2823.thumb.jpg.4c23984efac47284a0ea0803fde3a997.jpg

Routed Neck and Body

IMG_2828.thumb.jpg.9c14188a8770a36a3899a5e753437517.jpg

 

I can almost hear the riffs already...

 

One question I have is related to the spoke nut truss rod. After I glued the fretboard on I realized the truss rod can slide right out of the heal of the neck. Once the neck is set in the body the rod obviously won't come out, but I'm concerned about rattling issues and the function of the rod. My instinct is to wrap the rod with some teflon plumbers tape and push it back into the neck with a snug fit, but I'm wondering if there is something more secure I could try. If anyone has run into this I'd love to hear how they solved it!

 

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Hi

Excellent progress and some good work!  I like that fret slotting jig.

As you say, the trussrod can't go anywhere.  And in use, it will be pressing hard in at least three places at the slot tops and bottoms.  So assuming the slot is reasonably tight and accurate - and yours looks OK - it is very unlikely to rattle.

In the unlikely event that you find you don't need any truss rod tension to get the correct relief, then tighten the spoke nut until you just start to feel resistance - it won't bend the neck but it will ensure the rod is firmly held in the slot.

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For a first build you've done your homework well! So far there hasn't been a "Noooo, what in the world do you think you're doing!" -thing visible.

Good catch with the oversized blueprints!

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Does the neck have any taper to it? It looks almost the same width from the nut to the heel. If you draw lines from each bridge saddle to each nut slot, they should taper inwards as the nut is not as wide as the bridge. If the heel of the neck isnt wide enough, the strings would not be on the fret board.

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9 hours ago, Andyjr1515 said:

Hi

Excellent progress and some good work!  I like that fret slotting jig.

As you say, the trussrod can't go anywhere.  And in use, it will be pressing hard in at least three places at the slot tops and bottoms.  So assuming the slot is reasonably tight and accurate - and yours looks OK - it is very unlikely to rattle.

In the unlikely event that you find you don't need any truss rod tension to get the correct relief, then tighten the spoke nut until you just start to feel resistance - it won't bend the neck but it will ensure the rod is firmly held in the slot.

Thanks! I was worried that I had overlooked something critical, so glad to hear my setup will likely work out. 

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3 hours ago, komodo said:

Does the neck have any taper to it? It looks almost the same width from the nut to the heel. If you draw lines from each bridge saddle to each nut slot, they should taper inwards as the nut is not as wide as the bridge. If the heel of the neck isnt wide enough, the strings would not be on the fret board.

There is a taper. There's a bunch of extra rosewood above the nut that I think is making a bit of an optical illusion. That material will get removed when I cut the headstock down to final thickness. 

I just measured, and I'm sitting at right about 1.7" at the nut and 1.89" at the 12th fret. That should give me just about the right width for my tremolo saddles at the bridge. 

Thanks for looking out though! I'm 100% expecting someone on this site to find a critical error somewhere in the build process. So far so good :) 

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Cool cool, just checking. You hate to get down a road and have to go back, That said, sometimes redoing things or figuring out how to fix things is what really builds your strengths.

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23 minutes ago, komodo said:

Cool cool, just checking. You hate to get down a road and have to go back, That said, sometimes redoing things or figuring out how to fix things is what really builds your strengths.

Haha - I know what you mean. I got pretty good at making MDF templates after realizing my drawings weren't sized appropriately.

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6 hours ago, n8caster said:

I just measured, and I'm sitting at right about 1.7" at the nut and 1.89" at the 12th fret.

Not meaning to thrash the issue (@komodo's right - we're only looking out for you), but double-check your measurements here. 1.89" at the 12th seems a bit skinny. Unless you're using a significantly narrower-than-normal bridge there's a risk the strings might start sailing off the edges of the fretboard near the body.

My brain don't do imperial measurements too well, but assuming a narrow Fender-style bridge with 10.5mm string spacing, 3mm fretboard overhang on the outer strings and a rough guestimate of 7.3mm string spacing at the nut (subsequent nut width = 43.2mm) , I'd expect the 12th fret to be a bit over 51mm (or 2.02" if you prefer). 

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Out of curiosity I measured my factory made guitars - a Fender Am. Strat, an Eko, an Applause short scale Strat and an acoustic Tenson. The nuts were ~43 mm and the 12th fret ~52 mm within a 1 mm margin. Double checking is indeed recommendable!

In the "narrow" Strat bridges the string spacing seems to be 52.5 mm. If we assume that the nut is 43 mm and take 3+3 mm off the sides we get 37 mm from e to E. To get the string width at the 12th fret we calculate the average of the two: (37+52.5)/2=44.75 mm. Adding to that the 3 mm overhang on each side we get 50.75 mm which is just a hair under 2 inches.

 

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