Saturday, January 10, 2015

Starting A New Project

Just not today.  Today I've been patching some damage and doing some other prep to the garage walls so I can paint them tomorrow.  (What Fun!... groan)

No, this is a little project that I've thought about a few times, but never gotten around to until now. 
This is a "semi-hollow" body electric guitar kit.  These kits are mostly what woodworkers consider finish work: sanding, staining, sanding and finishing - aside from gluing the neck in.  You need to solder in and wire up all of the electronic parts like the pickups, volume and tone controls, and the output jack; it's not connectorized so that all you do is plug things together.  The top is flamed maple veneer over maple (laminate) while the body and neck are mahogany, with the neck capped with rosewood.  It actually looks pretty nice, although I'm sure I'll learn more about the details as I go along.  I'm probably going to stain  it a cherry sunburst (found an example - it might be there a while), and finish with gun stock oil, which is fairly popular among the kit builders. 

The kit is patterned after the Gibson 335 model, rather popular with jazz players, although the neck looks different.  The trapezoidal synthetic pearl inlays are more like a Les Paul (not that it matters).  I don't expect it to sound as good as "real" one, but I saw one video of a homebuilt that looked like this kit, and that one sounded OK.  (The video is here but don't watch the whole thing unless either (a) you're a masochist, or (b) you're really into this stuff.  If you want to hear what it sounds like go to the 8:00 mark for a minute or so.)


  1. Good luck! What kind of finish are you going for? The finish is always the sticking point for me. I can solder and bolt things together even do a little fret dressing but all that sealing, sanding and spraying is beyond me.

  2. When I first read this, it really blew me away, but you'll never believe what a lot of the home builders use to dye their guitars. Fancy aniline dyes? Nope. Quality woodworking stains? Nope.

    Stamp pad ink. That's right, the ink you buy to pour on a stamp pad. Blues and reds are really popular, but there are others.

    I'm reading up on this over the weekend. For sure, some good guitar stains are out there, at about $20 for a bottle that's about 20 times bigger than I need. But a lot of guys are using plain old ink and it looks pretty good!

  3. A friend locally who builds custom guitars with gorgeous inlay on the fingerboard of turquoise, mother-of-pearl, etc. does the French polish routine on his, an incredible amount of work. That and the customer-chosen style of wood and inlay means his guitars go out the door for $3K and up. Your way sounds a lot more "user-friendly" while still providing a good result.

    When I was stationed at a Naval Air Station outside of Memphis back in '69, a guy in the barracks has a guitar like you are planning to build. He was a jazz guitarist, and really good. Loved to listen to him play.

  4. Is that an 80% body?

    LCCC - more like a Heathkit. ;-)

  5. What happened with the dobro?
    How's that going?

  6. Bill - still there, still fine. I'm playing it most of the time, more nights per week than the other. The only slowdown is that I don't know enough songs for the slide and Open G or alternate tunings.

    This is a learning experience. Lessons in how to build one. I'd prefer to build one with good instructions, or a teacher, then build with progressively less instruction. This has no instructions.

  7. Does that make Keef Richards a jazz player? He's been using ESs for the last few years. I like Strats, myself. Last few I've built I've done a faux-granite finish.

  8. JC - him and that Eric Clapner guy (as Jocelyn Elders called him).