First Two Guitar Builds, 5 Years Later

jc2000

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Amazing... you deserve a full time shop. Keep those cars outside..
 

DaveR

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Amazing... you deserve a full time shop. Keep those cars outside..
If you had any idea how much my wife and I argue about that... If I didn't have a curved driveway I would have built a nice carport by now.
 

Jewel the Sapphire

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:wave: Hey thanks @DaveR I learned so much just looking through here and want to say that tough to set inlay came out great, any changes you want to make to your next inlays I think would be great aswell but the ones your using now are hella sweet
 

rockgod212

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wow nice furniture...........not to bad on the guitar side too.........checked out your 1st thread- just curious why you did not use a hand held router for the control cavities? never use a table to do those, always use a hand held one. I see you have some router bits with bearings now those are for sure needed for many of these routes. good job on the fixes.

I have built a few guitars now- all of those were leading up to the next build to where no mistakes are allowed......I would tune up that jointer though, it took me awhile to learn how to do it properly- but well worth the time spent, cause now my little bench top model rocks like it never has, and it cuts flat and true now.
 

DaveR

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wow nice furniture...........not to bad on the guitar side too.........checked out your 1st thread- just curious why you did not use a hand held router for the control cavities? never use a table to do those, always use a hand held one. I see you have some router bits with bearings now those are for sure needed for many of these routes. good job on the fixes.

I have built a few guitars now- all of those were leading up to the next build to where no mistakes are allowed......I would tune up that jointer though, it took me awhile to learn how to do it properly- but well worth the time spent, cause now my little bench top model rocks like it never has, and it cuts flat and true now.
Yeah, that first thread was so full of silly mistakes. That’s why I started a new one. Thanks to the furniture experience I’ve learned a lot of lessons about how to use my tools safely, and I’ve bought a lot more tools and bits as well.

I have tuned up the jointer and it works much better now, but I also learned how to use a hand plane, and how to use the right amount of glue, all of which seem to help me get a tight fitting joint.

I hope to build a couple more guitars maybe later this year. I’m thinking about doing a 7 string or baritone PRS style, and maybe an Explorer. I owe my wife some funiture first. I spent all weekend milling rough lumber for a small table and a jewelry chest. At the pace I work and the level of detail I have planned I’ll be lucky to finish them by summer.
 

rockgod212

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couple of other upgrades I would do is get a dehumidifier sized for your garage space and or where ever you sticker your wood and get a hang type 2 stage air filter sized accordingly for your work space. the dehumidifier will keep your wood stable throughout the year especially necks and tops if weighted properly. yeah it takes some patients learning how to use a hand plane, try to find yourself a used #6 or#7 jointer plane- that's the one you really need. theres always one more tool.
 

DaveR

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couple of other upgrades I would do is get a dehumidifier sized for your garage space and or where ever you sticker your wood and get a hang type 2 stage air filter sized accordingly for your work space. the dehumidifier will keep your wood stable throughout the year especially necks and tops if weighted properly. yeah it takes some patients learning how to use a hand plane, try to find yourself a used #6 or#7 jointer plane- that's the one you really need. theres always one more tool.
A climate controlled shop space would be nice, but a dehumidifier would probably just wind up costing me a fair bit of money. Where I live is super humid at times and while my garage is insulated and never gets below freezing, it's definitely not climate controlled. Plus we tend to park wet and snow covered cars in there this time of year, which doesn't help with the conditions. I also have a beast of a dust collection rig, that can swap out all the air in my shop (with outside makeup air that sucks in around the garage door) in just a matter of minutes. I intend to make an outbuilding for rough lumber storage sometime in the next year or two. That will just make the situation worse, because there it will have serious temperature swings.

Thankfully I have space in the house for small pieces of wood (that's where my fretboard blanks are), and when I'm actively working on a craft project or a guitar, I bring the pieces in with me every night and stash them on the dining room table. I definitely appreciate the value of acclimating the materials.

I recently picked up an old #6 at an antique shop for a very reasonable price, but I haven't yet spent the time to tune it properly. That's on my list of tasks when it warms up a bit.
 
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DaveR

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I didn't take many pics of the hardware fitting and wiring process, but it involved a fair amount of work.
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They both wound up just a bit heavier than I was shooting for. I'm not sure what weight finish adds to them. I'm assuming by the time I get finish applied, strap buttons and cavity covers, that we'll be just under 9 pounds each. I was hoping for around 8 lbs. Still, I'm happy with the weight of them, they aren't 11 pound monsters like they could have been. It's funny that the double cut, despite having one less upper bouts, a significantly thinner body, one less pot and lots of chambering wound up the heavier of the two. I'm not surprised since that one was African Mahogany, but it's interesting.
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I'm still waiting for some decent lighting to take some better photos. This is the best I have for now. Sunlight would be nice, but it's not the right time of year for that.
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I had a hard time finding a case for the double cut. Turns out that if you model it after a Hamer, it will only fit in a Hamer case. Imagine that. Those don't come up for sale very often, unless you want to buy one with a Hamer in it (I do have a couple). I couldn't get the lid to shut on my LP case, due to the volute and the shallower neck angle. For general protection, I picked up this PRS SE gigbag on ebay for a few bucks, and whenever the guitar has left the house, it rides in one of my Hamer cases, while said Hamer sleeps in the bag.
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I plan to update with some better photos soon, but for now, these guitars are as done as they can be. I'm in the middle of a couple furniture projects (on the weekends at least, it's brutally cold right now and I don't have time on weeknights). I just need to finish up cavity and truss rod covers and then get some stinkin' finish on these guitars.

The finishing process is extremely intimidating, since I've never sprayed anything other than some rattle cans. I'm procrastinating and waiting for warmer weather as well. I absolutely loathe finishing furniture, but had been considering buying a lower end turbine rig for spraying water based poly on furniture. I don't think that's going to cut it for guitars.


I may start another thread seeking finishing advice, but here's what I'm thinking so far...

For color (the LP only) I'm leaning towards a hand rubbed water based dye of some type. Maybe a light blue jean color. I'm also thinking about possibly doing the "dye it black, sand it back" process, followed by some gentle application of light blue.

For grain filling, Simtech sounds pretty straightforward. I've only grain filled one furniture piece (with watered down timbermate) and found the entire process to be a PITA.

For top coating the double cut, I thinking hard about some type of 2K clear. I have zero experience with any spraying, but I like the sounds of a simple finishing schedule over the complexity of nitro. I'm not concerned with the tonal qualities of the finish. I'm an adequate guitarist but tend to lean on the gain pretty heavy. Years of playing rock shows and shooting big guns makes me think that my ears couldn't detect a finish difference in an electric guitar anyway... Another thing pushing me away from lacquer, is that I don't want the finish on this Ambrosia Maple to yellow. I finished a small box in rattle can lacquer about 15 years ago, and I don't like how much the color of the maple has changed over the years.

For top coating the LP, if I like the 2K on the other one, I'll probably just go that route...although I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to nitro on that one. It just sounds too complicated. Between the lack of good weather and lack of free time that I have, I just don't see the finishing schedule working out well.

I have a 30 gallon air compressor, but I know for SURE that it is contaminated with water and oil in the tank. It's ancient and leaks oil all over the floor, but it refuses to die, and it works for most of my needs. I'm thinking about buying a small oil-less compressor (with a water trap) to dedicate to finishing, but I'm seriously running out of shop space for floor standing tools. Would a little pancake compressor get the job done? Some say yes...some say no....I'm willing to throw a few hundred at a 20-30 gallon if that's the better bet, just trying to be a smart shopper. As for guns, people around here seem to love those Iwata's but they're a bit steep for my budget considering how infrequently they would be used. Any recommendations on more wallet friendly guns?

I don't have a spraying area, but assume I can knock together some type of framework to hold sheet plastic in the doorway to my garage and catch a few non-humid, non-windy, warmish days (good luck).

Lastly, buffing....I have no idea. Some people seem to get good results just wet sanding by hand. I'm not opposed to elbow grease. A large buffing rig is definitely not in the budget for my first two guitars. Any suggestion there?

The finishing aspect has been so intimidating from day one, I really don't know what to do. Please don't say tru oil. I definitely want a high-gloss, sprayed finish. There's a local builder who makes his living making custom guitars (harperguitars.com). I've thought about asking what he would charge to finish these for me, but I imagine that what it would cost, would at the very least be comparable to what I would need to invest in my own equipment. Plus I don't know him and he may not be interested. It's something I really just need to learn how to do, but taking the first step is kind of scary because it's a big investment. I don't want to mess up these two guitars and you can only practice so much on scrap, before you have to just go for it.
 

Tonyd145

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Not sure what your local guy would charge, but I inquired a local guitar builder(Kansas City) about finishing a build for me with a nitro top coat. He quoted me $300 for a black finish with nitro top coat. I really couldn't afford that, so I do the color with wipe dyes and use Stew Macs wipe on ploy for top coats. I used spray can finish from Stew Mac both paint and nitro and really didn't get very good results.
 

DaveR

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Not sure what your local guy would charge, but I inquired a local guitar builder(Kansas City) about finishing a build for me with a nitro top coat. He quoted me $300 for a black finish with nitro top coat. I really couldn't afford that, so I do the color with wipe dyes and use Stew Macs wipe on ploy for top coats. I used spray can finish from Stew Mac both paint and nitro and really didn't get very good results.
Considering I’m about $1K each into these guitars, I could spring for another 600. But that would go a long way towards outfitting a moderate spray setup and teaching myself how. I’d love to be able to do it, and so far have accomplished anything I put my mind to. It’s just hard to take that plunge.
 

Jewel the Sapphire

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Considering I’m about $1K each into these guitars, I could spring for another 600. But that would go a long way towards outfitting a moderate spray setup and teaching myself how. I’d love to be able to do it, and so far have accomplished anything I put my mind to. It’s just hard to take that plunge.

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dickjonesify

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DIY buddy. Do It Yo’self haha.

Finishing was/is scary for me too. It held me up literally for years. But the one I finally did went swimmingly and even though I still have a healthy fear of it, I can’t wait for some spraying weather.

You want to have that skill under your belt and you want to be able to say you did it. Even if you screw up horribly, you just sand it back and try again.
 

DaveR

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DIY buddy. Do It Yo’self haha.

Finishing was/is scary for me too. It held me up literally for years. But the one I finally did went swimmingly and even though I still have a healthy fear of it, I can’t wait for some spraying weather.

You want to have that skill under your belt and you want to be able to say you did it. Even if you screw up horribly, you just sand it back and try again.

I agree with everything you said here. That’s exactly how I feel about it. I’m trying to do all my homework and purchasing in the next month or two, so when I catch a warm weekend in April/May I can jump on it and get them done. Still so many unanswered questions though. I feel lost about the whole thing. I need to just get the gear and start spraying some scraps.
 

gkelm

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At just over 8.5 lb that singlecut is actually quite light!
 

DaveR

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I bought a couple pieces of Bolivian Rosewood and Macassar Ebony on ebay to make cavity covers from.

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I resawed thin strips off of each piece with my monster band saw. I spent all last weekend tuning up my homemade junky drum sander and plan on sanding down these thin plates today most likely.
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Yesterday there was a bit of sun, although it was brutally cold outside. I finally had a chance to take some photos of my builds with some natural light.
I may add to this post later with some detail shots of all the flaws. I think it's kinda fun. Kind of a here are the "Easter Eggs" that nobody but me would ever notice...but for now, here's some halfway decent pics.
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Yes, the center seam is off center. I'm over it.
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Still need to fit the black nut a little better. It sticks out on the sides.
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I forgot to take pics of the back of the LP. Probably because my face was numb.

In case anybody is interested, this is the hardware I used on these builds and where I got it.

LP
Pickups:
Seymour Duncan '59 (NOS on ebay)
Tuners: Schaller M6 (NOS on ebay)
Nut: Unbleached Bone (Stew Mac)
Bridge: Gotoh ABR-1 (Stew-Mac, replaced studs with long SS bolts from Home Depot)
Tailpiece: Gotoh (Stew Mac)
Switch: CTS tall 3-way (Stew Mac)
Pots: CTS 500k (Stew Mac)
Caps: PIO .047 (Mojo Tone)
Strap Buttons: Dunlop strap locks chrome (ebay).

Double Cut
Pickups:
Neck - Dimarzio Air Norton (Used on ebay). Bridge - Seymour Duncan Pegasus (Used on ebay). This is a really mismatched pair. That Pegasus is brutally hot and the Air Norton is much lower output. I may swap out the neck at some point.
Tuners: Gotoh (Stew Mac)
Nut: Black Tusq (Amazon)
Bridge: Older style Gotoh ABR-1 (NOS on ebay, replaced studs with long SS bolts from Home Depot)
Tailpiece: Tonepros (NOS on ebay)
Switch: CTS short 3-way (Stew Mac)
Pots: Mojotone/CTS 500k Hamer Clones, supposedly have a unique taper (Mojotone)
Caps: Orange Drop .015 (Mouser)
Strap Buttons: Dunlop strap locks black (ebay)
Side note: I have beat Dunlop strap locks to death and have never had a failure. I always install them with a longer SS scew that I have to grind the head down just a bit to fit inside the button. They've never once let me down. I've seen other people break headstocks because their strap "locks" let go while they were jumping around on stage. Not that I do any jumping around on stage anymore...

Some of this hardware is decent, some of it is junk. I may upgrade the Gotoh stuff later, but for now it's not bothering me. The black tuners stay in tune just fine. I doubt I could tell a tonal difference between a good bridge and a crappy bridge. The high pitched whine that I hear at all times (years of guns, guitars and power tools) kind of takes the edge off of any audiophile tendencies I may have ever had.

I friend of mine did point out that as nice as these guitars are, I should have bought better hardware. The next build is where I would be more likely to go higher end.
 




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