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Author Topic: Building an Electric Guitar Progress Report  (Read 3355 times)
L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #20 on: December 28, 2016, 07:15:56 AM »

Since my last update, I have removed the dummy fingerboard, filled in the skewed truss-rod slot with glued-in strips of maple with the same grain orientation, and re-routed the entire slot precisely down the center of the neck as it should have been in the first place!  My low-profile 2-way truss rod and my pre-slotted compound-radius maple fretboard from StewMac arrived in the mean time.

So, last night, I finished routing the slot and then drilled the required 3/8" X 1 1/2" long hole into the body end of the neck to accommodate the adjustment nut housing.  The truss rod fit the slot almost perfectly, and with a few taps with a mallet, I was able to seat it and the nut housing snugly into the neck.  When adjusted flat, the truss rod sits just below the surface of the top of the neck which meets the objective.  Once installed, I tested the truss-rod's operation to make sure there was no binding, etc.  It seems to be working great.  This truss rod is extremely responsive and a turn of as little as 1/8 turn in either direction makes a huge change.  Of course, this is in it's free-wheeling condition with no fret board glued down on top of it to tame it down.

The pics show the results of turning the nut about 1/6 of a turn in either direction from "flat", and a picture of the "flat" condition.  After I took these pics I adjusted the truss rod to completely flat, and I glued the real fingerboard on.  It is clamped and waiting for me to go on to the next step.  I will leave the clamps on for at least 24 hours before I carefully test the trust rod's action again.
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2016, 07:23:22 AM »

The last post shows 2 duplicate pics of the truss-rod adjusted clockwise, depicting the hump in the middle.  Here are the remaining pics of it adjusted counter-clockwise from flat and adjusted flat just before glueing on the maple fingerboard.
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2017, 07:57:04 AM »

I can't believe it's been 8 months since I last updated my guitar-build thread.  I actually completed the guitar around last Easter and have been enjoying it all summer.  It turned out great in all respects.  I am very happy with my final design and hardware choices some of which were made based on you followers' suggestions.

I don't have any pics of the neck's completion between the progress shown in my last post and the final completion of the neck.  Neck's vital statistics:
- quarter-sawn maple hand-shaped by me with pre-slotted fender/larrivee-scale (25.5") compound-radius maple fret board.

- nut width is 1 23/32, a bit wide for many electrics, but perfect for me.  I was thinking of another guitar I have.  The nut width on this build is actually 1 11/16" but I maximized(wide as I could) the string spacing on the actual nut.

- the profile is a very close copy of my Warmoth telecaster neck. Only I made it a teensy bit thicker, more U-shaped, and a bit wider at the nut tapering to an exact copy of the Warmoth from the 17th fret onward.

- my objective was to make the attachment end of my neck compatible with any standard fender-style neck pocket.  I more or less achieved this, but somehow the flat part that goes in the neck pocket ended up too thin.  I foolishly only discovered it after I had cut out the neck pocket in the body without fitting the neck during the process.  Another lesson learned.  My body's neck pocket was too deep and I had to glue a mahogany shim in there and re-establish it's bottom with sandpaper.  It all turned out well in the end, but hours of extra sanding given the bottom of that pocket is angled and has to be precise and flat.  That surface determines the final neck angle once the neck is bolted on.  The sides of the neck pocket are just as critical since they determine the neck's lateral alignment with the body, pickups, and bridge.  I had to do a lot of hand-sanding, trial and error fitting, more sanding, etc.  It turned out well, but I think I have gained a huge appreciation for well-programmed, high-precision CNC machines.

- I installed Gotoh vintage style tuners on it.

- I stained the neck to make it look old, and finished it with TRU-OIL gunstock finish.  I installed old-style string tees and have yet to create some kind of decal or logo for it.  The logo will incorporate the word "Shooting Star" for sure.

You will see final pics of the neck later in the thread.  NEXT:  the body.
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #23 on: September 17, 2017, 05:56:48 AM »

So I'm just going to start posting pics of my progress in chronological order continuing from my late 2016 posts.

These first ones were taken after I had the body more or less to final telecaster dimensions and started making cavities for pickups, switches and controls.  The 1st picture shows the "router launch" that happened when I tried to route the bridge pickup cavity using an acrylic template.  Notice the big chips in the body and the partial repair along the upper right edge of the bridge pickup cavity.  If you look close, you can see these patches in the subsequent pictures.  After that incident, I decided to complete everything by hand with large diameter forstner bits in the drill press followed up with accurate chiseling.

Drilling long horizontal holes to connect cavities while staying horizontal proved quite a challenge.  I was able to do it while only having to drill one hole from the outside of the body.  That hole was eventually plugged during final finishing and I defy you to find it now.  All the other holes were initiated from the neck pocket, so they are covered up when the neck is screwed on.  I used stiff wires and labels to test my holes and organize my brain around which wire goes where.

I found it a major challenge to choose exact final toggle-switch and control knob locations on the front of my telecaster-style body being wired like a LP or RS-4.  I wanted it to be intuitive and aesthetically pleasing.  I couldn't layout the edges of the rear cavities until the centers of the holes on the front had been determined, marked, and drilled through to the back.

For rear covers, I copied the ones from my Forum V RS-4.
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
Mikeymac
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« Reply #24 on: September 17, 2017, 08:54:24 PM »

Any pics of the final product?

 gotpics?
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1979 L-19
1992 OM-05    
2010 D-03 w/Italian Spruce top
2010 RS-4 in Candy Blue
2013 C-10 Italian Spruce/Silver Oak
L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #25 on: September 18, 2017, 05:08:12 AM »

Any pics of the final product?

 gotpics?

You bet.  I took many photos with my phone and I had to spend all of last evening resizing them on my computer to make the files small enough to post here.  (I don't like using photo-hosting sites).  Stay tuned for pictures ad nauseum.

As stated, they will be more or less in chronological order as they appear on my camera from early in the new year until the guitar was completed last spring.
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #26 on: September 18, 2017, 06:03:42 AM »

My RS-4 was the main "template" for actual bridge and tailpiece stud locations, location and alignment of pickups, etc. in spite of the fact it has P-90s.  I took many precise measurements from it and replicated them on my build guitar.  I just adapted the pickup cavities to accommodate full sized humbuckers.  The intonation on my guitar turned out virtually perfect using these measurements.  I can center all the saddles in the middle of the bridge (Nashville-style bridge)  and get  nearly best intonation on every string.  Very little tweaking was required once the entire guitar was completed and set up.  Lot's of room left for adjustment on both directions.

Also with these measurements, the final location of the strings over the pickup pole pieces is almost perfect as well.  By the way, the pickups I installed are 2nd-generation Larrivees', hand-wound and signed by Matt.  I bought them from headsup a few years ago; right here on the forum.

My RS-4 was also used as the main inspiration for locating the controls on the top of my tele-style body.  I also used the picture of Seymour Duncan holding up the tele-gib as inspiration for these decisions.  Hard to explain that process in words.  I used a combination of measuring, analyzing, and visualizing you might say.

Parts were test-fitted often as the build progressed.
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #27 on: September 18, 2017, 06:20:44 AM »

.............test fitting parts.

I made the back cavity covers from the back-wood of a cheap plywood guitar that I bought for parts years ago.  The final finish on these covers is several coats of superglue.

By this time, I had contoured the body.  I basically converted the tele shape slab body to a contoured strat body.  I used my 1984 MIJ squire standard strat as the "template".  Again, lots of comparing, visualizing, drawing and erasing lines on my body.

Once I had lines and marks established, I used a Japanese contour plane and a spoke shave to complete the final contouring.  Then, of course, sanding along with the rest of the body.

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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #28 on: September 18, 2017, 06:29:19 AM »

Next decision was to settle for sure on a color and finish.  My original concept was to replicate a vintage SG cherry, given this guitar's woods and design.  My thought process was;  it being a one-piece mahogany (albeit Khaya) body, it would more likely resemble a LP special, Classic SG, or RS-2 in terms of tone and feel, so why not make it look like an old SG so it's looks matches it's sound.  I had no idea how it would actually sound at this point, but strummed acoustically, it had a pretty balanced tone and excellent sustain.

Once I decided it would be vintage cherry, I chose to use a recipe from "Guitar Finishing Step by Step" (from Stewmac) as my basis.  I just made adjustments to the recipe along the way when it made sense to do so given my materials and experience.

So, I started mixing aniline dye colors and testing them on scrap from my guitar's construction, until I got the color I thought was correct.

The last 2 pics show the body after grain-filling and just before staining.  The recipe calls for filling the grain with a dark filler.  I think that is pretty standard for Gibson and many other maker's  finishes when doing mahogany?  I didn't care about that, I just filled the grain as directed, and I'm sure glad I did.  The final result was excellent (as you shall see).  
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
Mikeymac
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« Reply #29 on: September 18, 2017, 04:07:01 PM »

Very cool so far! Keep 'em comin'!

 nice guitar
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1979 L-19
1992 OM-05    
2010 D-03 w/Italian Spruce top
2010 RS-4 in Candy Blue
2013 C-10 Italian Spruce/Silver Oak
L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #30 on: September 19, 2017, 01:33:37 AM »

Grain-filler I used, and the picture of an SG I tried to match.  After filling, I applied a couple of coats of shellac.  Once I thought I had the right color mixed, I applied it directly on the body with a brush, and followed up by wiping with a rag.  I gave it a couple of coats this way.  I was relieved and impressed by how evenly the Khaya accepted the stain after the filler and shellac treatment.  It was very even despite the changes in grain orientation in the contours, and the end grain on the sides.  The contrast between dark and light grain really popped.
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #31 on: September 19, 2017, 01:46:57 AM »

After staining, the color looked a little too purply to my eyes.  I wanted it to be a bit more red.  I was going to use General Finishes' High Performance Water-Based Topcoat for the build and clear coats, so I decided to create a toner that would add some red and used it for my first several coats to the point where the surface was level.  This took about 10 coats of the toner if I remember.  I applied a couple or three coats of toner, sanded back with 320,  more toner coats, sand back again, etc. until I had a level surface.  In this way, I gradually brought the color to the red I wanted, while filling the pores of the wood at the same time.

I made the toner by adding some red into my originally mixed stain that I had already applied to the body.  Then I added some of this newly-reddened stain to a small amount of the clear gloss finish until I had the toner I thought would work.  I applied these coats with foam brushes.  I thinned the last few coats with a bit of distilled water so it would level better after brushing.  That particular finish brushes on well, I discovered, but it dries pretty quickly at full strength.  The good thing about that, however, was that I could do 3 to 4 coats in a 24-hour period.  Whenever I sanded between coats, I got the prettiest pink sanding dust.

Using water-soluable aniline dye powders for my stains, and water-based finish made it easy to mix the two together.

Further to that, I feel using water-based products from start to finish on a hobby project like this is the way to go (shellac being the exception but even it can now be obtained in a water-based version).  No fuss, easy cleanup, no solvents other than water.  And especially if you are like me, who doesn't have spray equipment and has no inclination to deal with the hassles involved with setting up a proper spray environment, etc.  I've had excellent results brushing on 2 instruments now.  The first was the kit violin I built for my grandson and is described on another thread.  The second is this one.

The 3rd pic shows how closely I matched my original picture objective after many coats of the toner.  The last pic shows the toner itself.
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #32 on: September 19, 2017, 03:23:49 AM »

Next, I applied several coats of the clear finish, full strength, then sanded back with 320, and applied a couple more coats, slightly thinned.  I think there were 7 or 8 coats altogether.  I let it cure for a week or so, then progressively sanded it starting at 400 and ending at 2500 3M wet/dry paper.  I sanded it dry since General Finishes website says not to wet-sand this finish product.  I would like to try doing it anyways sometime but I wasn't about to do it on this guitar.  I followed up the sanding with polishing compounds on clean cotton rags, hand-rubbed. I polished first with Stewmac's medium, followed by their fine, and finally with their swirl remover.

Deciding that the finishing of the body was complete, I started installing the electronics and hardware.  The anticipation was starting to build by now.

I used the premium LP-style wiring kit from Stewmac for the electronics.  (CTS pots, Swithcraft switch, vintage style braided wire, etc.).  The pickups, as stated are 2nd generation hand-wound humbuckers by Matt and signed by him.

Once again, my Forum V served as the template for my wiring scheme.  It is wired like any standard LP.  I basically copied how the wires were arranged in the RS-4's cavity to the cavity of my build.

Here's another tip.  When using braided wire like this, it's really good to have a few different colored markers on hand.  Color the leads coming from each pickup in a different color and mark the backs of the pots they will be connected to with the same color.

P.S.  In the last picture, if you zoom in, you can see the patches beside the pickup cavities.  Those were a result of the router incident that I described early in this thread.

While all this body work was going on, I had completed the neck, installed the tuners, "age-stained" it and finished it with several coats of Tru-Oil gunstock finish.  It was now ready to bolt on to the body.  (why do they call them bolt-on necks when they are really mostly screw-on necks?).
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #33 on: September 19, 2017, 04:04:22 AM »

So here is the guitar just after it was all put together and set up.  I hadn't even heard it through an amp at this point.

These pics were taken before I installed the volume and tone knobs.  I originally installed black ones which was all I had.  I didn't think the black ones looked so good with the cream-colored pickup rings, and the toggle switch ring and it's knob.  So I ordered some amber-colored knobs which look better.  I don't have any pics of the guitar with the amber knobs.  I will post some later.
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #34 on: September 19, 2017, 04:41:31 AM »

Finally, the last pictures of the completed guitar.  At this point it had black knobs.  I have since changed the knobs to amber, but I don't have any pics of it yet.  I have also added string tees since then.

I still have to come up with a logo for the headstock, which I think is important.  Otherwise, the guitar becomes completely obscure in the future.  For this same reason, I will probably etch some basic information about when the guitar was made and by whom in the neck pocket or on the neck itself.

Knobs aside, by this time I had completely set it up, leveled and crowned the frets, adjusted the pickup heights, and tweaked the pickup pole pieces to create balance across the strings.  Well, I must say this hybrid guitar turned out great beyond my expectations.  It plays smooth, fast, and easy.  It intonates correctly all along the neck.  It has fantastic tones from the Larrivee pickups.  The tone and volume controls provide all the nuances one would expect from a SG or RS-2.  I've been playing it a few months now and I love it.

A few other guitarists have tried it and they were equally impressed.  One of them is a forum member (Marauder).

Since then, last May, I have started an acoustic build.  I will start a new topic for that one.
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
GA-ME
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« Reply #35 on: September 19, 2017, 05:07:11 AM »

That's a really cool project and a wonderful accomplishment!
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L07 Shooting Star
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« Reply #36 on: September 19, 2017, 05:30:08 AM »

That's a really cool project and a wonderful accomplishment!

Thanks so much.
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"Badges?  We don't need no stinkin' badges."

Became a Shooting Star when I got my 1st guitar.
Back in '66, I was 13 and that was my fix.
Still shooting for stardom after all this time.
If I never make it, I'll still be fine.


 
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« Reply #37 on: September 19, 2017, 12:06:48 PM »

My favorite part of the build are the back cavity covers. I would have never thought to use CA as a sort of varnish.
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2012 Epiphone Nighthawk Custom Reissue
1985 Peavey Milestone
2004 SX SPJ-62 Bass
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« Reply #38 on: September 19, 2017, 12:36:59 PM »

Very nice build.  You clearly put some serious time and effort into it.  Great job.   
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L-03WL (A Hunt for Spruce) with K&K Pure Mini
RS2 with humbuckers
George
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« Reply #39 on: September 19, 2017, 01:07:00 PM »

Awesome build Kurt.  I really like that you did the rear cavity volume/tone control approach with no pickguard nor tele style front plate.
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George
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