Saturday, April 4, 2015

Don't Look Now, But It's A Guitar!

Assembly and wiring are done.  I've put two strings on her to test a bunch of aspects - trueness of the neck, whether the pickups and wiring are all good, height of the strings over the neck.  Yes, I've run it through the amp to make sure all that works.  Tomorrow she'll get fresh strings, a careful setup and then I'll be Done done. 
I moved faster than I thought I would today.  I've never actually seen one of these in person, so I spent time looking at hardware with image searches, trying to figure out what some mystery pieces were supposed to be.  I also spent some searching in Bing trying to find out how to wire up everything, so I'm a bit surprised it was built by about 5 PM.  Here's a little montage of a few steps along the way. 

See that upside down piece of cardboard with the electronics built on it, lower left?  The next trick, gleaned from YouTube and elsewhere online, is to fish pieces of string into the body through each control's hole, pull the loose end up through the large "F-hole", and tie the end to each of the six parts.  Then you pull the string back through the hole pulling the control into place.  In theory.  Actually, I expected it to take most of a day, produce books full of spontaneously derived obscenities that I didn't know I knew (sort of an obscene version of speaking in tongues), and generally be a holy terror to build.  It wasn't that bad.  All but one (there's always one...) went in place fairly quickly.  That last one took Mrs. Graybeard's collaboration.    

I have to say, with the exception of not including any instructions whatsoever, I'm impressed with the kit.  It's really complete; it even included solder and hookup wire with the electrical parts you need to build it.  Although I've just barely handled her as a complete guitar, I'm encouraged so far. 


  1. What brand tuning machines did you decide to use?
    They look like Grovers, but I can't tell from the photos.

    I really like that wire tailpiece. Classy.

  2. I thought about Grovers, or some locking tuners, but decided to treat this as just "bone stock", as the car collectors say. They're no-name Chinese tuners. I'll see how these work; if they hold tune from day to day once the strings have stretched out, that's good enough. If they're functional like that, I'll keep them. For a while, at least.

    Likewise the pickups. These are somebody's generic pups, and while I'm sure they're functional, I know there are better ones out there. But I heard a blues guitarist with a good, gritty sound, and he was using a Fender Squire Stratocaster, the cheapest label that Fender makes in Mexico. You can get a new Squire for $250, and you just know they're not putting $200 pups on a $250 (retail) guitar! Heck, a quick check of Musician's Friend shows some Squire strats at $130!

    I think I've said that I think of this as a grand experiment. If the body is good, and it seems to be, there's no limit to the experiments you can do. The kit is a body from a woodworking factory that CNC routes it, does some minimal amount of quality control, and includes all the parts to make something work. But if all you want is a playable electric guitar, get that Squire Strat for $130!

  3. Addendum: When I started stringing the guitar, I found that one of the tuners had an odd defect. Tuners have a hole in the shaft to pass the string through to help secure it while putting it under tension. This one didn't have the hole!

    Thankfully, I know someone with a machine shop. ;-) I had everything to put it on the drill press and drill a 3/32 hole through the tuner. It might have stopped me for more than just a few minutes if I didn't have all the right tools.