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Stephen
(@stephen)
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22/08/2021 11:52 pm  

Hi All, 

I've finally decided to take the plunge and connect with a community with an interest in guitar making!

I've been playing guitar and bass (mostly bass) since I was a teenager, joined some bands and made a lot of noise and then got a "real" job, I'm sure that's not unusual...

I discovered DIY guitar kits a good while ago, but during lockdown decided to give it a go. I probably watched every video on youtube - got myself a SG style kit as cheaply as I could, stained it red, covered it in finishing oil and screwed it all together... and it was good! The experience at least. The instrument is playable and doesn't look too bad - the whole thing cost less than a nice set of locking tuners, so we're managing expectations....

 

For my next, and current, project, I went for a slightly more ambitious idea - still a kit, but with some modifications and upgraded hardware. This kit even has actual named species of wood! and a spalted maple veneer that I've managed to to sand the whole way through. I was planning on doing a honey-burst on this one, but it's turned into more of a rustic tobacco burst - still nice I think, but I've just put the first treatment of finishing oil on today so I'm commited to it at least 🙂

Anyway, hello! I hope to be here to chat, learn and share my knowledge (when I have enough to share!) Any maybe eventually have a project that I think is worth sharing!.

 

Thanks,

Stephen


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Koendb
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23/08/2021 12:30 am  

Hi @stephen Welcome to this awesome community!


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Boo
 Boo
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23/08/2021 9:43 am  

@stephen 

Hey Stephen, welcome to our guitar making community, glad you could make it. 

Yep, it’s a very typical story, I played in bands and then had to get some real work to pay the bills too. 🤣 

I also started out building kit guitars before moving onto the real thing here, thanks to @markbailey 

Nothing wrong with using a kit to customise and upgrade parts on, I’ve done it a lot. Eventually I wanted to get to the next level and do it all from scratch, it was a wonderful feeling when I did. 

Good luck with your project and if you have any questions, just come to the forum, ask anything you want and we will try and help you out. 

Just one question: Where and what is “NI”? 

Boo 

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk


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Robin
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23/08/2021 10:48 am  

Hi @stephen and a welcome from me in SCO to the group. Post us some photos of what you've done so far.

Just one question: Where and what is “NI”? 

Boo 

@boo  NI is just across the water, regardless of brexit, Northern Ireland still exists. 


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Russ
 Russ
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23/08/2021 11:21 am  

Welcome @stephen. Enjoy the ride. 

🎶🙂🎸🙏

🗝️ "Life's what you make it"🗝️


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Boo
 Boo
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23/08/2021 12:46 pm  

NI is just across the water, regardless of brexit, Northern Ireland still exists. 

@robin Doh! Of course it’s Northern Ireland, I was thinking it was an American state for some reason. 🤣

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk


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Boo
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23/08/2021 1:20 pm  

@stephen Sorry Stephen, that was terribly dimwitted of me, I apologise. 

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk


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Stephen
(@stephen)
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23/08/2021 2:29 pm  

No worries! We all have our moments 🙂

 

Thanks all for the warm welcome!


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tv1
 tv1
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23/08/2021 8:15 pm  

@stephen Sorry Stephen, that was terribly dimwitted of me, I apologise. 

You'll get used to Boo.

Eventually ....

😆 😆 😆 

 

Welcome Stephen!  Kits is a good place to start in that there's normally plenty of learning opportunities with them - just getting them to fit together properly, and then all of the set-up techniques to get them playing properly. 

The latter certainly is a skill set that you'll use over-and-over-and-over again, and practising on a (relatively) cheap kit guitar is a whole lot less worrying than practising on something that you've just spent a lot of money and time building.

 

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk


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Clinton
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23/08/2021 10:12 pm  

Welcome to the builds


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Stephen
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23/08/2021 11:25 pm  

I hope my next project will be something along the lines of starting with a body blank, perhaps with a ready-made neck - making a neck still looks intimidating! My most advanced tools right now are a fret-end finishing file and a standard power drill - so I'm balancing what I want to do with how many new tools I might have to buy to achieve it...

It's been finishing that appealed to me to start with, so I don't mind at all working with kits to get started - I'm upping the ambition slowly and definitely learning a LOT as I go, I had the dremel and the chisels out today to "persuade" pickups and pots to fit into the guitar body. Or rather, to persuade the body to accept them.


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Rocknroller912
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24/08/2021 12:26 am  

@stephen

Welcome to the forum. I’m going to swim against the tide and say that building kits is harder than starting with blank pieces of wood and templates.

Seriously though kits, particularly acoustic ones, tend to have all the parts including braces pre made which isn’t very good as wood can go out of shape in transit, then it’s hard to make things good. If you want to make electrics then buy a router and be willing to spend some time making templates from plywood or MDF.

Some people call me a tool, others are less complimentary. Tools being useful things.


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Stephen
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24/08/2021 1:01 am  

Any opinion is welcome here! A servicable router would have cost about as much as my first kit, not to mention the materials like mdf and/or plywood for making templates. I can't comment on acoustic instruments, that looks to be way, way beyond me! and as you mentioned - if you don't have the tools to shape wood then it could be a nightmare! And maybe I'm working backwards to some peoples' intuition, I'm starting with trying to make a guitar shaped box of parts look lovely - and a true master may start with a thought more like "can I make this tree look and sound good?"

Also the tools! I do plan to gradually build a collection of the essentials, as well as the nightmarishly expensive specific tools (nut files *ing *!) so I'm approaching it from my own angle, but I could definitely sit down with anyone over a few pints and aruge that I at least *think* I'm going about it the right way 🙂


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Robin
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24/08/2021 10:10 am  

@stephen

perhaps with a ready-made neck - making a neck still looks intimidating! 

Making your own guitar neck for the first time is a daunting thing, but once you get started, it's not so difficult. Just follow the steps that Mark demonstrates and your  plank of wood turns into a neck before your eyes. It's got to be one of the best feelings in the world.

 I at least *think* I'm going about it the right way

Whatever way you want to go about building guitars is the right way for you, I don't think there's a wrong way. While I've been in this amazing group I've only found two hard and fast rules. "Measure twice and cut once" and "There's no such thing as too many guitars"  


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Boo
 Boo
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24/08/2021 10:47 am  

I hope my next project will be something along the lines of starting with a body blank, perhaps with a ready-made neck - making a neck still looks intimidating!

@stephen Yep, I’ve done that a few times. Start with the neck and take the measurements from it and get the body blank to accept it, in alignment. So long as you have string alignment and the the correct scale length, everything else will fall into place. There are only a handful of principals you must get right, the rest is just window dressing. Making a neck may seem very daunting at first but it’s not that difficult, I promise. You don’t need any specialist tools for it either, just some rasps, files and sandpapers. You will obviously need the specialist fretworking tools but making the actual neck can be done with minimal toolage. 

A servicable router would have cost about as much as my first kit, not to mention the materials like mdf and/or plywood for making templates.

At some point, if you want to progress, you will need to invest in a decent router and perhaps a bandsaw. They don’t have to be mega expensive, just big enough to handle the cuts needed for guitar making. I was in the same position and I saved the money I would be spending on a couple of kit guitars and bought the tools, I made that sacrifice. It’s fun building kits but when I made that sacrifice, it changed everything for me and made me a much better guitar builder. There is nothing wrong with building kits, I just got to the stage where I wanted more, I just felt like I was just screwing everything together and painting it. So, the tools are essential if you want to do more, even customising kits. 

This isn’t the cheapest hobby to get involved in but it is massively rewarding and addictive to boot. Don’t think about the investment of tools as a whole, just buy stuff as and when you need it. You don’t need to buy the whole of the StewMac catalog to get started. The most expensive specialist tools you will need are the fretting tools, after that it’s just basic woodworking tools, plus a router and bandsaw. 

Ive just carved a neck for one of my projects, I’ll post some pictures in the thread for that build. I think I named it Bandsman Black Stealth or something. 

 

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk


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tv1
 tv1
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24/08/2021 11:48 am  

It's easy to think that you need to spend £hundreds on all the tools needed to build guitars.

And it probably would add up to that quite easily.

But (and there are a couple of buts) ...

 

But #1 - once you've spent that money on the tools, you can use the tools to build as many guitars as you want.  So after that investment in tools - and learning the skills - payback arrives pretty much as soon as you've built, rather than bought, the first guitar.

But #2 - those tools and skills are highly useful life-skills, not just for guitar building.  I probably spend as much time in my workshop doing all sorts of house-related DiY stuff as I do building guitars.  All the same tools and skills.  And much more wife-friendly!

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk


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Stephen
(@stephen)
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24/08/2021 4:00 pm  

Sounds familiar @Boo, I think I'm getting to the stage where building another kit again won't teach me too much...

And expensive hobbies... when I'm not being a wannabe luthier I'm a wannabe cyclist! At least the n+1 rule apples to both 😉


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Tej
 Tej
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11/09/2021 12:03 am  

making a neck still looks intimidating

@stephen Firstly, welcome 🙂 Secondly, please don’t let wood intimidate you! I’d previously put together a kit guitar, finished it nicely and learn how to do a proper fret job on it. It plays well but won’t win awards, I learnt a lot from that about finishing and setting up but it taught me squat about making a guitar from scratch. I’d highly recommend you choose parts and blanks, complete your design, use a premade fretboard (one I got from Guitar Making is beautiful) and get yourself going using the courses here. Lean on the community, ask the questions you might think are stupid and take your time 🙂

As for tools there is a link from one of the courses to a minimum list of tools you “need” and it is just that, obviously there are specialist tools you can buy that will help but time and care without them can still get good results. I’m not the only one here who’s done most of the work on a knackered old workmate bench! 

Anyway, enjoy, whatever you do, looking forward to you progressing 🙂

…on an elaborate journey to turn trees into music.


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Stephen
(@stephen)
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12/09/2021 12:34 am  

Again, thank for the welcome - and I'm sure great advice.

I'm just about finished my 2nd kit build, I've learned A LOT - some of which I'll go back and apply to my 1st kit and even some of my more affordable stock guitars (shielding WOW!)

Still have the frets to level/crown/polish but that's waiting for a new pay-day and a few new special friends for my "wee" toolbox...

But I do feel like I've learned enough from building and finishing kits, another kit would have diminishing returns. I've looked at the BYO electric kit here - it seems like a good start. At least with that if it turns out crap I know it's something I did wrong and it's not crappy wood I picked! I'm *just* manly enough to go into Screwfix 🙂 I don't want to get laughed out of a lumber yard for building a guitar and not a house 😉


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Boo
 Boo
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12/09/2021 11:04 am  

I'm *just* manly enough to go into Screwfix 🙂 I don't want to get laughed out of a lumber yard for building a guitar and not a house 😉

@stephen No, don’t think like that. The lumber yards I’ve been to are really helpful and they cater for everyone, there are woodworkers of all kinds in those places. Yes, the bulk of customers there are standard joiners working on houses etc but don’t let their macho BS put you off. There are some true carpenters that frequent timber yards, cabinet makers, true artists. We all have to get our woods from somewhere and getting to know your local suppliers is a wonderful thing to do. However, I would suggest buying your guitar woods from Mark for now because he has put the time in to get them flat, straight, planed, sanded etc. Even when you buy stuff from your local yard, you will more than likely have to work on it further to get it to instrument building standard. If you only have a basic/limited amount of woodworking tools, then buy you stuff from Mark because it will be ready to use. 

Build a few guitars, get some experience, build your confidence, build your tool collection (power tools, hand tools etc), invest in machinery if you want to source and process your own guitar woods. Until then though, I would advise that buying from Mark is paramount, most of us do (certainly in the UK). 

Go for it, enjoy yourself and good luck. 👍 

Boo. 

Online guitar making courses – guitarmaking.co.uk


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