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This Hobby Ain't Gonna Be Cheap!


davee5
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While I'm sure I could make this easier or my wallet I believe whole heartedly in doing things right, and really right. Paying up front for good materials and good tools always wins in the long run. Projects I saved $50 on a few years ago now make me regret the couple of beers that I could have passed on for a much nicer product. Likewise projects I cut no corners on always fill me with far more pride.

Yet this is my first guitar and one of my most expensive undertakings to date and I don't want to blow it or miss anything. Thus I humbly offer to teh experienced amongst you my master spreadsheet (engineer) of prices and places for the whole project. I've linked to the excel spreadsheet in case anybody wants their own copy to tweak for personal use.

So here's the master list, please peruse and let me know if anything seems missing or unneccesary. You guys have been a great help already. I'm cutting templates this weekend and will be ponying up the credit card soon for this list, so now's the time for corrections.

-Dave

Note this was all very nicely formatted before I posted it, but it might come out fairly garbled.

Dave's Flat-topped Koa & Mahogany Semi-Hollow

Part.................Cost........From..............Details

Strap Button..........$18.........Allparts..........Schaller locking - Gold

Pickup Covers........$28.........Allparts..........Gold

Pickup Rings..........$25.........Allparts..........Gold w/ Screws

Neck Blank............$0..........(Got it)...........Mahogany, std LMI blank size

Body Blank............$0..........(Got it)...........1 3/8" Mahogany

Top Plate...............$0..........(Got it)...........1/4" Figured Koa

Capacitors.............$0..........(Got it)...........0.001uF for volume, 0.043uF for tone

Tuners..................$80.........LMI................Gotoh 510 18:1 full size - Gold

Frewire.................$8...........LMI................SS - Std Size

Nut.......................$5...........LMI................Bone

Headplate..............$10.........LMI................Ebony (or Koa from top)

Fingerboard...........$50.........LMI................Ebony 25.5" scale, 16" radiused & pre-slotted

Bindings................$10.........LMI................4x 32" Bloodwood + Fine BWB Purf, .080 wood + 0.030 BWB

Fret Markers..........$20.........LMI................Abalone Shell or Black MOP 5mm + silver outline

Side Dots..............$20.........LMI................Abalone Shell or Black MOP 2mm + silver outline

Knobs...................$10.........LMI................5x Ebony dome - inlay 2mm abalone dot afterwards

Finish Kit...............$135.......LMI................Z-poxy filler, KTM-9 finish, binding cement, polish

Thrd Inserts...........$9..........McMaster........1/4-20 SS inserts PN 90247A012

Mach Screws..........$8..........McMaster........1/4-20 SS Socket Head Cap Screws

Bridge...................$150.......Musician's Friend.....Graphtech GHOST tunomatic gold

Pre Amp................$90.........Musician's Friend.....Graphtech AcoustiPhonic Preamp

Inlay Silver............$30.........Santa Fe Jewelry.....Tubing for Myka-Style dots, Ribbon for inlaying signature

Truss Rod..............$15.........Stew-Mac........2-way 18" Hot Rod

Ferrules.................$10.........Stew-Mac........Gold

P'up -Neck.............$22.........Stew-Mac........Humbucker Kit

P'up -Bridge...........$22.........Stew-Mac........Humbucker Kit

Pickup Wire...........$25.........Stew-Mac.........42 AWG, poly insulated 1/2lb (25,000 feet =2.5 'buckers worth)

P'up Screws...........$2..........Stew-Mac........Gold

P'up Ring Screws....$2..........Stew-Mac........Gold

500K push/pull Pot..$18........Stew-Mac........2x mag tone/tap + 1x volume/mag kill

500K Blend Pot.......$7..........Stew-Mac........Mag blend

250K push/pull pot..$7..........Stew-Mac........Piezo/kill

Popup Battery........$10.........Stew-Mac........Black plastic

Sheilding...............$11.........Stew-Mac........Copper tape

Sub Total...........$857

Tools................Cost........From..............Details

Fret Hammer..........$15........LMI

Fret File (crowning).$40........LMI

Binding Router........$60........LMI................Bit + .110", .080" bearings

Inlay dot drills........$15........LMI.................2mm & 5mm

Flush Cut Router.....$25........Lee Valley........3/4 x 1" template

Cabinet Scrapers....$45........Lee Valley........Set of 4 + burnisher

Aliphatic Glue.........$5..........Lee Valley........Titebond III

6" Diamond Hone....$45........Lee Valley........For fret leveling & tool sharpening

Low Angle Plane.....$150.......Lee Valley........w/ additional 50deg blade

Ratchet Clamps......$15.........Lee Valley........10x On sale, good for clamping around perimeter of top

Calculator..............$5..........Longs Drugs......Cheapo pickup winding counter

Bar Clamps............$40........McMaster.........6x 12" light duty PN 6545A8

Flush Nippers.........$10.........Sears..............Craftsman diagonal cutters

Trss Chnl Routr Bit..$20........Stew-Mac.........for Hot Rod

Templates..............$20........Tap.................3/8" acrylic. Get laser cut at work from CAD

Sub Total...........$510

Total...$1,367

Edited by davee5
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this is just IMO. the fretboard is a little much - Stewmac

finish kit - pretty much all you need is the paint (spraycans if you dont have compressor), epoxy (grainfiller, at least thats what i use), lacquer, and the sandpaper (400-600)

and you could probably stand to get a cheaper bridge if its ur first project.

but, you dont really have to listen to me. thats just my advice. :D

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He's not paying too much for the fretboard - he wants 16" radius, not the standard 12" that StewMac has.

The list looks ok - have you done much woodworking before? If not, I'd question the benefit of buying a $150 hand plane - get experience with a cheaper one first.

Also, I'd strongly recommend getting some cheap wood in first, like a 3A maple top and a standard body, maybe a cheap maple neck blank, before you get straight on building on your best wood - especially that Koa, I'm betting that was pricey!

Your list shows you've done research though, just buy as and when you need instead of getting it all in straight away, and then you'll avoid buying more tools etc than what you need.

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imo;

if your going to buy all these tool supplies you might aswell buy some of the materials in bulk for future projects;

and if your going to spend 800$ on materials, you should find some pickups a little more worthy than the stewmacs;

i use alot of them on prototypes all the time; there good, but drop an extra 100$ on something with balls; like somthing vintage; if you dont have an old music guy in town ebays not a bad way to go;

but it looks like your organized; wanna do MY bookkeepin?

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You could certainly do a bit of shopping around and find better deals than Stew Mac or LMI, but there is something to be said about not spending time chasing parts and getting it done in one shot. A lot of the tools will be their for your next build that is a plus. It is not really the way I approch my materials and tools, but my way of doing things is not right for everyone. You are certainly planning well. Laser cut templates from good solid drawings :D . Sounds like a formula for success :D .

Peace,Rich

P.S. Who ever said this hobby was cheap :DB)B)

Edited by fryovanni
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The fretboard includes the price of $30 for top-notch ebony and $9x2 for radiusing and fret slotting, plus I've heard StewMac's wood quality isn't near LMI's.

I've done enough woodwork to feel like I can pull this off, and it's constant hobby, so I actually feel better playing $150 for a plane that can cut end grain and figured hardwoods well, and works better than a $30 Stanley. Maybe that's delusional and that is certainly one of the areas I'm not well versed enough in to know better. The plane is to be used for the scarf joint as well as shooting the bookmatched halves of the koa for joining. I know a block plane won't shoot as well as a jointer, but will a good setup and some care I think I'll manage fine. If it comes to it I can always take the halves over to a cabinet shop and get 'em jointed for a case of Fat Tire.

As for the pickups I'm buying the parts from StewMac and will be winding my own. Otherwise I totally hear you about paying big money for nice wood and skimping on crap pups.

As for bookeeping services, I'm not cheap, but I'm sure wecould figure something out. Maybe it'd be better for you to just download the sheet yourself and modify it as desired. Really this is as much a way for me to figure out my budget as it is to make sure I haven't fogotten anything. Between the accurate 3D CAD model (except neck shaping since I'm not using any computer help for that) and the detailed parts list I hope to not have too many snags.

-Dave

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For the kind of jointing you'll do building guitars, a jack (no.5) plane is plenty big enough. My most used plane is a pre-war sargent jack plane which cost less than a pint of beer from a local charity shop, the good tools are out there for little money if you get a bit of luck.

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Although LMI and Stewmac may not have the best prices, if you are buying from them anyway, it may actually be cheaper to pay a bit more from them than to buy from someone else and incur more shipping costs.

You've got the makings of one heck of a guitar, davee5! Do keep us informed of your progress! :D

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I'm with Sambo, you say it's your first but looks like you're trying to build your ultimate straight off. As other's have stated - shopping around will save you a bundle and remember that a lot of things 'luthier' are just tools that suit guitar making and as such can be brought for much less from normal tool suppliers - a quick eg: before i started pressing frets i used a 16oz dead blow hammer that cost me £3.75 from my local hardware shop - works great and a lot cheaper than SM's !

Oh, also a much stated point - only buy tools etc when you NEED them, not because it's written somewhere that you must have them. There's many here who like myself made their first neck with nothing more than a surform, sandpaper and a lot of sweat and swearing :D ....................in fact i still do !

Jem :D

Oh, and i echo - what gave the idea it would be cheap ?!?!?!

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Cheapest way of getting into guitar building is finding a "project guitar" on ebay. Use neck and hardware for your project. This way you will get experience while not braking the bank.

I do think you could shoot for a great first guitar.....although experience learns that you will make mistakes along the way, and it's better to make these mistakes on cheaper pieces of wood then on the $500 Koa body blanks.

The word is that your 3rd of 4rth guitar will reach playable levels. Donno, about that.......

Do know that buying guitar in store is much cheaper then building one. But then again....what's fun of handing over the cash. :D

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I dunno, after you've already got the tools and whatnot, I'm not so sure that buying a guitar is cheaper than making one. When you build your "ultimate" guitar, you want it a specific way. If you were to order something custom from PRS (not sure if you can, but it's a nice example), i'm imagining the costs would be nuts. Their "high" end guitars cost an arm and a leg.

If you are planning on this being the only guitar you build, it's definitely going to cost you an insane amount of money. But if you're lookin at this as something you want to continue with, building guitars that suit your fancy shouldn't cost you more than a decent guitar in the store. I actually started building guitars because i couldn't afford to buy the guitar i wanted ($4200 US) and after building it and buying every single power tool, hand tool and supply that i wanted and needed, i still haven't hit that 4200 mark.

Buliding guitars is not a cheap hobby, but the rewards are priceless.

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I think you have to account for his level of planning here. He has taken the time to do his research, and is looking for the right parts and right tools for the task. I agree it is going to be easier for him to tell if he could have used a different tool or what have you after this build, but he is trying to get the right tools in his hands for this one. He stated he has woodworking experience, and understands tools(and is buying accordingly). He could spend time reasearching other places to get parts(for less) and maybe save a couple hundred dollars (what is his time worth, and would it be better spent focusing on the work?).

As far as a first guitar not having the potential to be a great piece of work that is very well built. That is hogwash. It totally depends on the person. I think you could say every future build has a better chance of improvement, but that doesn't mean a first has to be bad. I think you will also see he has done some budget minded shopping for some bits and pieces, and note he is cutting his own templates (so there is some value added saving going on). Honestly I don't see any tools or parts that seem over the top or out of line. I said in my first reply this is not the way I go about things (not right or wrong), but each person works a little different.

I see many new builders that develop a list of "holy grail" specs(usually based on what they have read and little or no understanding) and say they are going to make the guitar that does it all. Then start making pictures and sketches (not plans that could be built to). This guy is focussed on solid planning and drawings, good templates, tools to do the job, and quality parts(but nothing out of line). I would bet this fellas first may be everybit as good as many guys thrid or fourth(maybe tenth if they learn the hard way).

Peace,Rich

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Yup, I agree with that. There are always extra nickels and dimes involved somewhere. In Davee's case I see most of it involved in the deluxe hardware ie. gold as opposed to chrome or nickel, its always more expensive. I'm not in the business myself, just a hobby builder and if I were to calculate the man-hours involved in my projects, I'd say each guitar I've built would be worth about $15,000. :D I take my time. But Davee has the right approach.

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Many thanks for all the comments and encouragement, I look forward to eventually devastating the naysayers in a GOTM competition in a few months.

My background is mechanical engineering, I am a professional stuff maker and my track record is strong, but this is my first instrument. I chose things like gold hardware because I honestly feel like the $100 is costs me now for the aesthetic I want will be worth it after playing it 200 times and paying $0.50/play (that math only gets cheaper).

I tried to keep the tool list as narrow as possible, and I may very well opt to get a Stanley plane instead of a Veritas, but I believe that in carefull, even only "mostly skilled," hands quality begets quality. I know (so please feel free not reiterate for me) that a tool is only as good as it's user, but I also know as someone whos job it is to drive the cutting edge in manufacturing technology, hard, that a process eventually is only as capable as it's tools.

As for the case: I'm planning on making that too. HA! That's right, I'm doing the whole thing. I mean I l'l get a nice gig bag in the meantime, but I have very well formed ideas about case design which I'll get into once there's a guitar to put in it. This is as much about making your own stuff and taking pride in it as it is about developing my skillsets as an engineer, product designer, and prototyper. I would rather have a carbon fiber case, albeit with some cosmetic issues, I made myself to learn the process and express my ideas about design and usability, and then to showcase the results later, than buy a TKL or even a Cedar Creek case off the shelf.

You all rock, and I should note the guitar I'm building has been ridiculously planned out. I've posted the design here. Even the routing (Scott French style) has been planned and a template cut. Handiwork will not be easy, but this is not going to be a rush job. I've been working on this design for about a year, and it's finally time to make some shavings.

-Dave

Edited by davee5
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