my guitar fetish's 2013 les paul kit build..first timer!

dschwartz

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hi folks!!!
after reading a while here about people building guitar kits, i decided to go ahead and
bought a gfs les paul kit..
why gfs? cause it was cheap, they had worldwide delivery, the kit has a solid maple top & veneer instead of just the veneer, and i could get the upgrade hardware there for cheap also..and the kit looked like it had a decent quality.

note the fact that i'm from chile so i had to pay almost double the cost between international airmail and custom taxes..full package ended up costing around 500 bucks (i added pickups, tuners, bridge, and some other stuff)

some of you would say its better to just buy an epi for that amount of money..but most of the excitment on this project is the fun of creation and the satisfaction of learning the beautiful craft of luthiers. i'm quite obsessive, perfectipnist, patient and kinda smart, so i'm eager to face all of the challenges and obstacles that will rise on this endeavour....


ok so lets get started!!!!!!!!!

this is the package as arrived.



the body..it has a pretty thin maple veneer..probably 0.5mm or so..the binding was not leveled around the lower horn and it was pretty rough at some spots..it was a bummer at first sight..but some sanding solved pretty much all imperfections:


small cracks & dents on the body

this went away with sanding.





the back..3 pcs mahogany..decent wood..but sloppy workmanship and one of the pieces is really mismatched..fine by me anyway..i'm dyeing it...




the neck..it had a little backbow on it, but adjusting the truss rod fixed it..most important, it´s not twisted!!! :)


fretwork ...sucks..sharp edges, and even a small piece of metal under one fret.. at least the rosewood looks pretty nice and the inlays are ok..not perfect, but ok...


ill post more soon, i have like 50 more pictures of the progress..

 

Mexicanbreed

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Hi dschwartz! It looks like an interesting kit, I often browse GFS, although I haven´t bought from them yet. I applaud you for taking the chances. Since I have no experience doing stuff like this, I haven´t taken the plunge. If I did, I´d probably try the SG kit, it looks interesting.

I´m very interested in what you will do with this kit, so I subscribed to your thread.
 

Claymore

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Sounds like you are going in with the right attitude; a bit of work and you should end up with a nice player. Looking forward to your progress!
 

ARandall

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My browser seems not to display your pics...but I've had a couple of kits, and seemingly endless bodies from B. Hefner and Warmoth. What is consistent between them is the lack of utter perfection. Every piece I've had required some finish sanding....some needing CONSIDERABLE effort.
I got a Jaguar kit from the BYO Guitar custom shop and the mahogany body was furry like a small rodent.
I got a PVX kit that had a few dings in the top...these ended up being visible even in the clear.

The moral of the story is that you expect to have a bit of work to do before you can consider the wood ready.

Remember always to sand wood only in 1 direction, and ALWAYS with the grain.
 

dschwartz

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My browser seems not to display your pics...but I've had a couple of kits, and seemingly endless bodies from B. Hefner and Warmoth. What is consistent between them is the lack of utter perfection. Every piece I've had required some finish sanding....some needing CONSIDERABLE effort.
I got a Jaguar kit from the BYO Guitar custom shop and the mahogany body was furry like a small rodent.
I got a PVX kit that had a few dings in the top...these ended up being visible even in the clear.

The moral of the story is that you expect to have a bit of work to do before you can consider the wood ready.

Remember always to sand wood only in 1 direction, and ALWAYS with the grain.
as you will see in my next posts...your advice was much needed..:D..i sanded in circles at some spots over the maple.. DHHUUHHH..it was fixable nevertheless...
 

dschwartz

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ok, now..lets continue with the progress:

i checked the neck fit and it was...abysmal..it had like a 2mm gap under the tenon and it had some side play (is that the word? i mean side movement).. more on that later..






before working on the neck fitting, i started sanding and correcting the body defects..
some pics:
sanding the top, nice grain showed up, binding leveled and 95% of dents and small defects went away

corrected the back defects and tidy up thing a bit:


remember that ugly lower horn finish?, it ended up like this:


ok..once i finishe sanding i wetted the wood and sanded the raised grain.. and prepped for aniline dye:



my t.-shirt brush and plain fabric anilin... brown..




first hand of brown dye to pop the gain:

letting it dry before sanding


first lesson learned..the brown dye filled the open pores as black spots, like old furniture or an old violin..this took away the 3d depth of the grain.. it just tinted the flames ..look great on pics , but i wanted a 3d wavy finish..


i sanded down the brown (thinking the 3d effect woould come up after polishing) and tinted yellow and blood red sunburst:

see those black points on the wood?..they were starting to bother me...

then added brown sunburst for a tobacco like finish:


the color was beautiful, i was pretty happy, but something kept bothering me..

then i applied wood sealer (nitro rub on) over it, expecting to get that 3d effect..


as i said..beautiful color... but the 3d effect was pretty faint.. i was happy but i wanted more from it.. like i said..i´m a little perfectionist..

..this post is already too long.. i´ll post more really soon...
 

ihavenofish

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the 3d effect comes from the alternating end and edge grain. as you change angle, it reflects ligt differently.

ANY dye applied directly to the wood will lessen this 3d effect as it puts a permanent colour into the end grain. people dye it to make the grain stand out (which yours does) but not for shimmering grain.
 

dschwartz

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ok..as i´m making office space, i´ll post the following steps i went through:

gluing the neck :mad:..this was hell.. as the picture showed above, the neck fit was not tight.. so i had to manage to make it fit like a glove..

so, i measured the gaps and glued together a couple of wood veneers (of a chilean native wood very similar to mahogany, called lingue) with titebond (wich is hard to find here but it worths the effort) and glued to the tenon..3 at the bottom and 1 on the side


after some sanding, the tenon fitted tight like a teenager´s butt (yeah like i know about it..)

BUT..look what happened.. the "#%$#$ neck wasnt straight with the body!!!:


so...after massive amount of work measuring, filing, sanding, gluing veneers and scraping wood...i manage to get the neck in line with the body and flush with the lower cutaway binding..arrrghhhhhh..but then again, i like challenges...

before gluing the neck, i shaped the headstock with files and sanding:

the shape ended up perfect (i did it freehand), but i used a very coarse file and chipped the wood at some spots..


i used a mix of titebond and sanding dust and filled those..not a big deal since i will put a veneer over it..

ok, so LET´S GLUE THE NECK!.. I was very nervous but took my chances and went ahead:



this is what i ended up..i had to put wood filler (titebond and sanding dust) to fill the gaps:


preparing for mahogany dye..


i dyed the back with aniline..brown and red..don´t have pics of it..

but then i made a big mistake..i mixed wood sealer with aniline and thinner..it turned out AWFUL!! the sealer dries up too fast and i could even it out fast enough, so it looked like smeared poop on a monkeys cell wall..

i dont have pics of it but the neck gives an idea:


and that was de good part.. the body was 10 times worse..
so i sanded THE STAIN AND THE SEALER ON the neck and the body down....A LOT OF WORK!!!


then i started lightly sanding the top for another hand of sealer:


but then i lost mi mind hating those black stains and ended up sanding the whole veneer!!!!!! i was scared to death doing this, this ended up being probably the thinnest veneer ever on a guitar


i wanted my 3d effect so i moisted the venner and sanded down like 3 times and found a stupid way to improve the grain..wet and sand in small circular motion..after dried it looked great..but didn´t notice the circular patterns i left on the grain..which popped up after dye..:squint::sadwave:
applied yellow aniline:


a splinter raised at the bottom, and the veneer along the binding was damaged but not that bad..but i have my plan for that..

applied then brown dye... niiiiceee:


notice the black stain on the bottom, that´s the piece of veneer that splintered up... i used sawdust with glue again to fix it.. it turned out great..

i really like this color , but i have to darken it a bit to hide the defects around the bindig..



so..the nex day i sanded the top with a smooth grain (like 400) to erase those stupid round marks i left and re-stained with brown aniline to darken the edges...


nice color, too, a bit darker than i wanted, but it has that depth i wanted:



after a lot of sanding, dyeing, smearing, wetting, sweating, swearing, crying and bleeding (my fingers ended up bleeding under the fingernails)

i was satisfied (and tired) with the color and applied sealer.. and OMG..GORGEOUS!!! it looks like caramel:



the chipped venner just almost dissapeared:


and my last pic for now..with a question form you guys:

i rubbed the sealer on, like 3 hands ..but it turned out very uneven, with some droplets and rub rails...like this:


should i sand the sealer or use thinner to even it out? or just leave it like that and the laquer will even that up?

did i screwed up again??:D

if i sand it ..very light grain? like 800? 100?

the sealer is a nitrocelulose transparent paste that dries up very fast and hard, but elastic (i´m considering using it like a wipe on laquer.. but i think i´ll use spray can acrylic laquer...as a newbie)

any thoughts??

cheers!!!!!!
 

dschwartz

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the 3d effect comes from the alternating end and edge grain. as you change angle, it reflects ligt differently.

ANY dye applied directly to the wood will lessen this 3d effect as it puts a permanent colour into the end grain. people dye it to make the grain stand out (which yours does) but not for shimmering grain.
yup, lesson learned.. next time i´ll use tinted oils .. anyway i redid the job staining with yellow and it retained the 3d effect...
 

tommyd73069

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Great job. You overcame and conquered.:applause:

I recently completed a kit from China that looks very similar. Has some of the same problems with the binding at the horn and the pickup cavities were rounded out, like yours.

I used Rit fabric dye, dissolved in denatured alcohol and shellac on mine. Clear coated in lacquer.

Spalted Lester Photos by tommyd73069 | Photobucket

In the end, what I learned is that these lower end kits aren't very good. There were times I felt I could have started with some lumber and done it better. But, I wouldn't know that now if I hadn't built the kit.

It's not the last guitar I'll build, bet you are the same way
 

dschwartz

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hi tommy..nice build!
as you say, these kits are not really good if your goal is having a flawless
guitar..
to me..these are like 'my fair lady'..its a challenge to build something beautiful and playable from an ugly point of start....

the wood is fine and if i make something better than a 200 bucks guitar, then i'll be proud as hell!
 

dschwartz

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hi tommy..nice build!
as you say, these kits are not really good if your goal is having a flawless
guitar..
to me..these are like 'my fair lady'..its a challenge to build something beautiful and playable from an ugly point of start....

the wood is fine and if i make something better than a 200 bucks guitar, then i'll be proud as hell!
 

tommyd73069

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hi tommy..nice build!
as you say, these kits are not really good if your goal is having a flawless
guitar..
to me..these are like 'my fair lady'..its a challenge to build something beautiful and playable from an ugly point of start....

the wood is fine and if i make something better than a 200 bucks guitar, then i'll be proud as hell!
Thanks...twice, I guess:D You nailed it. It's about the experience, not the product. Mine turned out pretty good. I keep heavier strings on it and tuned to Eb. It's meaty and angry sounding. But, it's no show winner or beauty queen. She's like a lot of the girls I dated. She looks smoking hot from across the room...in the low lights...after a few beers. :beer:

Cheers
 

ARandall

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Hey man....what an EPIC!!!

The pics are coming up now, and they certainly put some of the things I've had in my kits in perspective.
You've done a great job just plugging away with what really was a disaster kit initially...well done.

The 3D effect of the grain only comes about once the clearcoat is over the top. With just the stain on it looks about as flat and lifeless as its possible to be.

With the sealer, you tend either to put it on thick, then sand back level-ish before the clear over the top. Or you could scrape all of it off the top so there is nothing on the top and its all in the pores. As you've stained already the first case seems to be the better option.
 

dschwartz

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Thanks...twice, I guess:D You nailed it. It's about the experience, not the product. Mine turned out pretty good. I keep heavier strings on it and tuned to Eb. It's meaty and angry sounding. But, it's no show winner or beauty queen. She's like a lot of the girls I dated. She looks smoking hot from across the room...in the low lights...after a few beers. :beer:

Cheers
haha LOL.. well i saw your build pics and i tell you it looks quite nice ..although the pics were not the best...

the thing is we enjoy learning..each step of the process is something new to learn..i´ve never stained wood, or used sealer before, and now the laquer will be a great experience...
 

dschwartz

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update:
i hammered down the bridge posts and $#%&%$!! the stop bar is crooked!!

that´s what happens when you dont measure enough and just do it by the ear..

i had to modify the post hole and widen it towards the bottom of the body and use scrap wood to refill the void and make the post fit tight..it doesnt look that bad, but it´s still a little crooked..well...i´ll have to live with it..

tomorrow i´ll show you the headstock overlay i´m making.. really simple and effective...
 

dschwartz

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Hi all..i took my time to reply since we had our second son early today..i'm taking a brake from this great emotion to post the progress on the kit:

Just to check how it will look, i put the pickups and the bridge on..it looks like this:


Another pic ..note the stopbar is not perfectly aligned..is a little crooked..i widen the post hole to the right direction but it wasnt enough..so it ended up like this..no big deal


Ok now, the head overlay:




How i did it?
Pasted 2 wood veneers and laser printed the design over plan paper ..then redrew the gibson logo and my logo with simple metallic paint pens ..then sprayed acrilic laquer over it for sealing the paper an pasted it over the veneers..
Cheers!!!!!
 

dschwartz

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Last night i dyed the mahogany with a mix of water, red/brown aniline and a few drops of black indian ink..it turned out nice and even..i was looking for a dark blood like color.. I ended up with thice nice deep mahogany color


 


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