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First Build Mistakes


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I am pretty far into the work on my first build and have made several minor mistake that a little sanding takes care of and have had a few larger ones that I need to make design changes to remove. I know everyone makes mistakes on their first builds and was wondering what some of you most memorable mistakes were and how you corrected them. I see all of the nice work guys do now and keep thinking that I am making major screw ups that none of these other guys would make. But then I remind myself that everyone else has made mistakes and had to work around them. I was just curious if I am making common mistakes and am on par with everyone else or if I am having problems that just reveal a lack of skill.

So far I had a large tear out of the neck pocket due to using a poorly designed jig that forced me to enlarge and deepen the pocket and glue a block in and start it over. I marked the location of my bridge post and some how found a different mark in the same area and drill my post holes their. Luckily I caught it early enough the I only had used a 1/8" bit so far and just filled it with some epoxy and drilled in the final location. Once painted you'll never see a mark and even if there is, it will be under the bridge and I can live with that. I was also rounding over the the edges and had the router tip on me while working the horns and take a little extra out, to fix that I am just going to step up the radius to blend everything in.

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well, i had a pretty good teacher and years of woodworking experience so i'd say that my biggest mistakes were trying to cut my neck pockets freehand and without a template. makes for a pretty sloppy pocket. i also felt that "my" guitars had to be totally unique so i made a couple of beasts before i settled on a design that i was happy with..something between an sg and a strat.

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I think you are doing a fine job on your first build. Doing anything in life is a learning prosess with mistakes along the way. But it sounds like you are starting to get a better feal for what you are doing. You have been able to fix ,and overcome the mistakes you have made whitch is great. it means you are on the road to becoming a better guitar builder/woodworker. Most of what you are doing is woodworking skills, and as you learn what works and what doesn't you gain in your skills. The PG forum is a great place to pick some brains on all types of subjects, but keep in mind what will work for some people might not work for you in your givin situation. I have been building things since I was 5 years old, and learned at an early age that I loved to work with wood.

I remember a time when I was working in a cabinet shop on this custom solid oak desk. I had the top all done with cardboard over top of it so it wouldn't get scratched up. Well in my brilliance I decided to drill the holes for the drawer pull on the drawer fronts before attaching them to the drawers. Needles to say the bit went through the drawer front, and then the cardboard, and then into the oak top. major mistake when i removed the cardboard there were three holes in the top. Itold my boss what I did and he told me to fix it. So i filled the holes with a combination of wood glue and wood that matched the grain patern best. Then used an exato knife to make a little more grain detail and you couldn't see it at all once it was stained and finished.

So don't be to discouraged on your mistakes they are making you a better builder. and in the future you won't make them again. Some of the best jig material I use is baltic birtch. It is very strong and can take a good drop off the work bench without breaking like plexi would.

I can't wait to see your ccompleted guitar it will represent alot more than just a musical instument. It will represent the jouney you took in ceating it...

Build on ihocky2

Good luck

Mike

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I've been pretty lucky. Worst mistake was a router bit that slipped in a collet, leading to a nice little 1/4" wide, 1" long track in a part of a carved top that was too deep to just 'carve out'. Solution: add inlay. Same solution I used to rescue the otherwise gorgeous flamed maple top I used on the red PRS-ish beast.

I've also blown off headstock ears with a router before, but that's relatively easy to fix. And blown out the lower bout on one guitar, fortunately found the piece, glued it back, and the joint invisible to everyone but me. Looks like a natrual line in the wood, and it's under a clear finish, so...had a small router accident when routing a neck pocket recently, and fixed that by grain-matching a piece of ash and chiseling out a precise pocket for it. It was tiny to start with, but the repair's barely visible. Again, gonna get clearcoated.

These things happen, sometimes because you do something stupid, sometimes just lack of experience, sometimes bad luck.

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My first was a Tele. I tried to drill the connection holes from the pickup route to the control cavity and used a loooong drill bit. But I drilled some, checked to se if the drill had reached the control cavity (nope not yet), drilled a tiny bit more (no, still no visible drill bit in the cavity) drilled some more and I hade drilled through the back of the guitar!!!! :D (I wasn't laughing at the time)

I had used the wrong angle and rushed things. Big lesson learned. Nowadays I drill those connection holes through the output jack hole and mark the drill for how long I expect the hole to be. Then I know if I have drilled longer than I need and can abort.

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I'm still a beginner--doubly so, because I'd never even looked at a power tool before starting this project ('journey' definitely fits).

I still make mistakes all the time... Each time, I learn a little bit more, get a little more comfortable with the tools and the process.

As an artist, the process of things has always been the most interesting part for me, whether I'm writing, playing music, or painting, or whatever. I love the feeling of flow I get when I'm working. Maybe that's why it takes me so damn long to build a simple guitar.

My biggest mistake (or mistakes) almost invariably come from over-eagerness --building guitars is a huge departure from what I'm used to --I'm more often in that 'action painting' mode--but that doesn't work with building guitars.

So quite often I'll rush into a task and forget some important step that I was supposed to take, usually a step in the preparations for things --the other day, I got so involved with setting up for drilling tuner holes in a headstock that I completely forgot to draw reference lines to tell me where to drill!

Another mistake I make is to try to hurry toward the end of a task --especially when I'm routing and my arms are getting tired from the vibrations. I'll start off routing carefully enough, but towards the end there, I'll push it a bit too hard...and invariably make a mistake.

Two big things I learned about routing --1) always wait for the bit to stop spinning before moving the router away. 2) Make sure the router is well supported and keep an eye on the supports --most of my routing mistakes come from that little wobble you get when the support of the router shifts out from under the base.

Oh yeah, and another thing: I always plan plenty of time to get something done. Even though I think something will only take me 10 minutes, it always ends up taking 2 hours. Today, for example, I routed the channels for a pair of CF rods. No big deal, I thought, be done in half an hour...took me three hours! And I'm still not done (just gluing them in right now). But they came out pretty good, so I'm not complaining.

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In 1982 I made a Rickenbacker 320 copy. I chose it in black.

I used a different brand lacquer bewteen the color and topcoat. By error, I strung up the guitar before completely drying the guitar. Well, the paint never dried. So, I had to refinish it the correct way. As I was on my last coats, the rope that the guitar was hanging on, got hung up. When I jiggled the rope, it gave some slack and caught on itself again. The jolt caused the guitar to pop up from the hook in the hanger and fall to the ground.

It bounced on the bottom edge, landed again and fell on the face of the fingerboard.

After the finish dried I noticed a crack between the fingerboard and the neck. I shot glue into the gap and clamped it down so hard, that I crushed the wood on the back of the neck below where the truss rod slot is.

I caved in the wood. So, I ended up with a stripe of a different color lacquer (as I had run out of black and only had brown) where the clamp was used and a big crack/gap on the back of the neck.

It plays fine, but looks like, well.....

On the same guitar, I drilled the holes for the bridge too far apart. I had to file the holes bigger and found I had bone inserts for the saddles, so I had to run a wire from the bridge to the trapeeze tailpiece.

Buzz city.

Isn't learning fun?

Oh, almost forgot...as I was chiseling the neck/body joint of this same guitar, I was in a hurry and tried to remove more than I should have. As I pushed (forced) the chisel with my right hand, the piece of wood gave way and the 1/2" chisel went straight in to my left hand that was hovering above the work area.

It hit above my left index finger, inside next to the thumb. It went in about 1 1/2". Thought I'd hit a nerve or something. Just a butterfly closure and I was fine. Lesson learned: keep tools sharp and watch where things might go if you miss. Dummy.

Edited by MP63
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The person who hasn't made any mistakes at all, hasn't done anything either.. lol We all will make mistakes, it's inevitable, just learn from it and move on. The worst mistakes you can make, is not to learn from your previous ones. I've made plenty of mistakes. The first mistake and worst one I ever made was when I was carving the back of the neck contour, everything up to that point was going great and I was getting a little brave. B) So I'm carving the neck and I wanted a thin neck, but I took no consideration for the truss rod slot depth, I just figured, hey Ibanez can do it, why can't I. I admit, I didn't plan ahead on this aspect of the build, so I just assumed, and you'll see what that got me.. lol We'll, I carved it down to around 18mm behind the 1st fret, no big deal. Later after everything was said and done, I strung it up, adjusted the truss rod, heard a crack, turned the guitar around so I could see what was going on, and it wasn't a pretty sight. The truss rod nut was visible through a small crack and I could see why, it was probably only 1/64" of wood left. AARRRGGGGGGG. So I said a few bad words, removed the fingerboard, threw the neck wood away and proceeded to make a new neck. What was so bad, was that I was almost done, and in the setup stage, :D So it goes to show you, just one slip up and your back to square one again.. lol I was later talking to Driskill and told him how stupid I was in carving away too much wood on the neck, and he said, "I did the same exact thing before man. I was using a spokeshave on my first guitar neck, and everything was looking good, then when I was making my last couple of passes, the spokeshave hung up on something. I looked down and it was the freakin' truss rod." So you see, every guitar builder is going to have mistakes somewhere down the line. Don't feel so bad, you're not alone..

My first was a Tele. I tried to drill the connection holes from the pickup route to the control cavity and used a loooong drill bit. But I drilled some, checked to se if the drill had reached the control cavity (nope not yet), drilled a tiny bit more (no, still no visible drill bit in the cavity) drilled some more and I hade drilled through the back of the guitar!!!! :D (I wasn't laughing at the time)

I had used the wrong angle and rushed things. Big lesson learned. Nowadays I drill those connection holes through the output jack hole and mark the drill for how long I expect the hole to be. Then I know if I have drilled longer than I need and can abort.

You don't know how many times I've feared of making that mistake. It's one of my biggest fears and I go to great extremes to make sure I don't mis-drill through the body. I'm probably due to make that mistake soon though, knowing my luck.. lol

....

Two big things I learned about routing --1) always wait for the bit to stop spinning before moving the router away. 2) Make sure the router is well supported and keep an eye on the supports --most of my routing mistakes come from that little wobble you get when the support of the router shifts out from under the base.

Oh yeah, and another thing: I always plan plenty of time to get something done. Even though I think something will only take me 10 minutes, it always ends up taking 2 hours. Today, for example, I routed the channels for a pair of CF rods. No big deal, I thought, be done in half an hour...took me three hours! And I'm still not done (just gluing them in right now). But they came out pretty good, so I'm not complaining.

I've made that mistake before myself. I was routing a pickup cavity and I was in a hurry, so I tried to move the router before it completely stopped spinning, put a nice little nick on the template. Thank god that was all it hit though. So yeah, definitely wait for it to stop, sometimes you think you can lift it straight up and out, but it's best not to chance it. Being in a hurry doesn't help you finish any faster, and fixing mistakes you made because you was trying to hurry, can end up costing twice the amount of time it would have taken if you'd just took your time and do it right in the first place.

These are some very good tips...

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I've made bunches and bunches. Of mistakes. Most of them work out in the end, but could have been avoided had I thought things through. I think and plan out how I'm going to each step, going through it in my head, doing a dry run, etc. But sometimes I forget about how I'm going to do the *next* step, and how the one I'm doing now will impact that one.

My first guitar, I didn't grainfill. Well, I thought the finish would eventually fill and level out. It didn't. I sprayed a whole can of KTM-9 on that one guitar. (I got three guitars out of my second can, and probably wasted a lot of spray in the air). It never looked right.

Well, in stripping the finish on that guitar this year to salvage what I could of that mess (there was a lot more wrong than the finish - like a bridge that what almost an *inch* out of place) I discovered that the finish was probably a half inch thick. ( okay, I exaggerate) and all that it *really* needed was a good wetsanding.

My favorite mistake is probably the time my depth stop slipped, and I drill right through the headstock when making my tuner screw hole. I call it a speed hole if anyone ever notices. It helps me play faster.

I've done worse, but those are two of my favorites.

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on my 8, i didn't measure the distance that the barrel jack was going ot be going into the cavity. The jack ended up touching the tone pot. :D It's since been corrected with a lot of washers.

I'd say my biggest mistake is just not making ABSOLUTELY sure of what I'm doing. I had to re-fret my guitar twice and since i'm rather inexperienced, it shows on the fretboard.

Take yer time, measure twice (or more) and cut once. I should seriously adhere to that more often.

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Well it certainly helps knowing that a lot of the better builders on this site have had their fare share of big screw ups. I find it fun to share wars stories sometimes. Since this is my first build I don't have too many or a favorite yet. But so far I think the biggest was butchering the pocket for my recessed TOM. A little epoxy and a block of wood shaped to fit and I was back in business with a much better template and once it's painted you'll never know it happened.

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