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Just Starting Out


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Hey everyone. I started out a couple of months ago with the goal to build my own guitar and quickly realised it was going to be more difficult than i first thought. having read Melvyn Hiscock book and spent a lot of time researching and finalising my project I’ve learnt a lot and am now just about ready to begin.

After bugging a lot of people to let me play their different guitars I’ve completely u turned from a les Paul to a strat (more specifically my friends custom shop strat . . . cheers Tom)

I feel happy with most things now and all though my word working skills probably are not quite up to scratch I’ve got a couple of pieces of scrap i can practice on.

I’ve decided on a two piece alder body, rock maple neck, (stew mac) Indian rosewood compound radius fretboard, (stew mac) fretwire and dot markers, single action gotoh truss rod (can not source a dual action). Which leads me to my first question. Should the compound radius effect my neck shape or should I build it the same as if it had a normal radius? I was planning to go for a modern c shape (as fender describe it) and I was wondering if someone knows the difference between a the fender modern c shape and the normal c shape.

My major concern though is tools. I live in Wallington, surrey, :D and have no access to a bandsaw, jointer, router or thicknesser. I have already spent a fair bit on clamps, hand plane, orbital sander, shed loads of sandpaper, rasp, stew mac 16" fret leveller which I plan to double up as a sanding block and cant reasonably spend too much more. I should probably buy a router, round over bit and flute bit (is that the right bit for cavities cant remember) I really don’t know what type of router I need or where to look for one. Had a quick look in B&Q and didn’t get very far. If someone could point me in the right direction to source one in the uk + round over bit preferably for between £30-50.

I’m going to go ring around locally and see if anyone I know/local wood shops have access to a bandsaw and jointer and see if they can run the body through, but if anyone has any suggestion of places they knew that would be great.

Finally I was wondering, although unlikely, if there is maybe someone who lives reasonably locally who is experienced who could maybe check my work, give me some advice, maybe lend me some tools or any of the above. A bit of a stretch I know but no harm in asking.

Cheers in advance Iain :D

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You can build a guitar with the tools you have, it just takes time and patience. Is there no where near you that you could use there bandsaw for a small fee near you, that would help you out alot. As for routers, i beleve i have a black and decker 700, but i only used it for my truss rod cavity and neck profiling, i did the roundovers on my body with a rasp and file.

I did my control and pick up 'routs' with a drill and chisel, i did it at school so saftey regulations made me 'imrovise' shall we say.

Plan everything your going to do, then measure it, then mesure it again, and again and again, then make your cuts carfully.

Good luck with the Strat!

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Hi Iain

I'm also from the UK (essex) and in a similar position to you, nearly ready to start my first. But to help you with the router situation, I bought one recently from ebay for about £40 and so far i've been extremely pleased with it.

Here is the link:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vie...me=STRK:MEWN:IT

I believe the seller has more of these if you needed one.

As for cutting the body, i'm going to use a jigsaw for my first one while I decide whether to get a bandsaw or scrollsaw, i'll then use the router with a pre-cut template to go round the body shape taking any rough edges away.

The other thing you could do for a bandsaw is phone up your local college/university or adult learning center, you should be able to use theirs for a small donation. Thats what i'm going to do when I need to use a band-saw initially until I get my own.

If you can't afford the router, the other thing you could do is use a drill-press with forstner bits, and use chisel/scrapers etc to clean up.

Hope that gives you some help, most of my info, i've gotten from the guy's here, so i'm sure you'll be well informed in no time.

BB

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Cheers guys for all the replies, and thanks Byronblack for the link to the router, will probably order one on Monday.

Looking at the 12 piece silverline sets he also sells which includes these Rounding Over Bit 6.35xR6.3mm, 6.35xR9.5mm sizes. Are they suitable for doing the roundover on a strat and are the other bits suitable for truss rod etc? or should i get something else, if you bought another set of bits could you specify where you get them from. cheers.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/BRAND-NEW-30-Pce-Sil...5QQcmdZViewItem

I choose not to go with the stew mac truss rod because of having to buy their router bit to do it properly, along with mixed reviews on the forum about them, and it would of added considerably to my shipping. I also had seen several uk outlets advertising dual action rods to however find out later they were all out of stock. :D

All my wood has now arrived and just waiting for some large clamps to arrive. Getting rather excited now.

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My major concern though is tools. I live in Wallington, surrey, :D Finally I was wondering, although unlikely, if there is maybe someone who lives reasonably locally who is experienced who could maybe check my work, give me some advice, maybe lend me some tools or any of the above. A bit of a stretch I know but no harm in asking.

Cheers in advance Iain  :D

You're from Wallington ey, I'm from just the other side of Croydon from you I guess.

The key with using a router (particularly for beginners) is good templates and a flush trim bit. Get a decent flush trim bit, and plenty of 12mm MDF - a good choice for templates. draw round that custom shop strat on the MDF for the body outline, and cut it close to the line using a saw, then neaten it all up using sandpaper etc, making sure you got it smooth.

Then take it the prepped body blank - trace round it, and again, cut round close to the line. Then stick the template on top, and use the flush trim bit to cut to shape - good templates make the actual work easy B)

Edited by Supernova9
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hi Iain,

This is the set I bought:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vie...AMEWN%3AIT&rd=1

I believe it has most bits that you'll need, i've only tested them briefly but they seem to be quite good and sharp, and I'm confident of using them on my first guitar.

I'm now just waiting on a stew-mac delivery and some plans, and i'll be away.

by the way, out of interest, where did you get your wood from?

Also, to save money on large clamps, what I did was order some 1 meter threaded rod and nuts from scewfix direct (www.screwfix.co.uk) and will cut some lengths of wood covered in felt as the clamp ends, then using a regular spanner, I'll have a fully adjustable long clamps for next to nothing. Screwfix also have good prices on G and F Clamps.

BB

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Another great link and idea. When i need some more clamps i will defiantly give that a go. Got my wood from David dyke, luthierssupplies.co.uk/. Very good quality, £35 for two piece American alder but that’s before vat and delivery. Would defiantly recommend them as the quality of the wood is very good. They also know what they are talking about and are very helpful.

Have already made my template, and taking it over to my friends tomorrow for a last double check that its as perfect as possible

Supernova 9 You have kind of confused me though as I thought a flush trim bit was completely different to a roundover bit and would create a completely different shape. I though a flush trim bit was used to create the type of edge typically found on a flying V rather than a strat. Are you saying i should use the flush trim bit first and then the roundover bit?

Edited by whats_this
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Iain,

I think what supernova was saying is that you attach the template to the top of your cut-out body, and then use a flush bit to 'trim' away rough parts as you route around the template as a guide.

I will give tonewoods a call, I have their website bookmarked but for mahogany they seemed unsually expensive, but i'll give them a bell and see what they can do.

Also with the router that I posted the link for, it has a plunge ability, so even if the round-over bit had too much radius on it you could adjust it so more of the bit lies inside the guide, allowing a smaller part of the bit to show out the bottom, this would allow you to cut a radius that is more in-keeping with a strat.

You'll usually do the round-over bit once you have gone round your body with the flush trim (after you have taken the template off of course).

BB

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cheers thanks for clearing that up, i was going to sand it down by hand but that has definatly now changed. Sorry mate i made a mistake i got my wood from david dyke, luthierssupplies.co.uk.

Another newbie question. Do you add a ball bearing to a roundover bit or do you have to buy a special roundover bit with ball bearing if you want to try and avoid burn marks.

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if you want a really cheap router, check out good old argos. they've got a really cheap one in their "sale" at the minute for £20. If you're only going to be using it for one project i'm sure it'd be fine. That's the one I got for my lp, although i'm yet to use it, it seems ok.

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cheers thanks for clearing that up, i was going to sand it down by hand but that has definatly now changed. Sorry mate i made a mistake i got my wood from david dyke, luthierssupplies.co.uk.

Another newbie question. Do you add a ball bearing to a roundover bit or do you have to buy a special roundover bit with ball bearing if you want to try and avoid burn marks.

Getting a roundover bit with a bearing does not cure burn marks (they're caused by you holding the router in one place for too long), but it is better than one without a bearing.

The bearing stops you from cutting into the wood you're working on, and just rounds over level with the edge you run it against, which is the effect you'd be looking for on a strat.

ByronBlack - if you're looking for wood in the UK, try www.craft-supplies.co.uk (on the front page, look at their Soundwoods catalogue), they've got the biggest selection of tonewoods I've seen in the UK, and their customer service is v.good too.

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ByronBlack - if you're looking for wood in the UK, try www.craft-supplies.co.uk (on the front page, look at their Soundwoods catalogue), they've got the biggest selection of tonewoods I've seen in the UK, and their customer service is v.good too.

And if you get a chance, have a look around their shop In person, especially the loft where they keep the turnery wood. Its great. But remember that if you're going to look at the instrument wood, you need to make an aapointment

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A compound radius fingerboard is quite a big harder to do. It does not change the shape of the neck in anyway, it is simple the curvature of the fingerboard. Unless you dead set on one, avoid it and just do a 12 or 16" radius. It will really save a headache for you. I am for glasgow btw.

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very cool, where about in glasgow, going to be up there in a couple of weeks for my cousins wedding. small world. I have already bought the stew mac slotted and compound radiused board so have no problem there, was just wondering as i half remember reading a post suggesting you should change the neck shape to adjust for the difference in radius. Although to be fair i was looking for 98 london road yesterday (which doesnt exist) when i had been told 4 times to look for no 78, so probably my memory playing tricks on me.

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