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Old January 6th, 2013, 05:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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What I learned on my second assembly

This is my second "build" (i.e. assembly from parts) and it was a nightmare. My original plan was to have a Calgary Stampeders logo painted on the guitar and I paid a guy $100 to do this. The guy who painted the guitar is a custom painter who works on metal (cars, motorcycles etc.) and I thought he would do a fine job on the guitar. I was soooooo wrong. The body is an ash body from GFS and I don't know what kind of paint he used but the result looked terrible and after the guitar sat for a few days the paint started lifting and bubbling and generally reacting in ways that it shouldn't. I got my $100 but it was a huge amount of work taking that finish off and reprepping the body.

LESSON #1: Fixing someone's else mistakes is harder than starting from scratch.

After prepping the body and getting it ready for paint, I got it all painted up (I had given up on the Calgary Stampeders logo) and as it was drying it fell off the stick I had screwed onto the body as a holder. It fell to the ground putting a huge dent on the bottom edge of the guitar. I had to fix this with bondo and repaint.

LESSON #2: Don't use a piece of rotten scrap wood you found on the ground to hold your guitar.

After fixing the body up and getting it resprayed and clear coated it was time to sand and polish. No matter what I could not get a good mirror shine on the guitar. I have done this before (search for a thread called "turtlecaster" and know how to get a glass like finish but it was just wasn't happening. Finally, I figured it out. Whatever clear spray paint that gets sold in Indonesia just doesn't polish up like the clear spray paint I got in Singapore. It was some local auto body guys that told me about the problem with the locally sourced paint.

LESSON #3: Use good quality finishing products

Assembling the guitar was just fine. The neck is Musikraft and almost everything else is from GFS. Compared to my first attempt my soldering skills are much better (though still pretty terrible) and I didn't repeat any mistakes. One thing that went much better is the location of the bridge. I learned from the turtlecaster to ignore the bridge holes that are drilled into the body and to locate the bridge and neck together so that everything aligns properly. I had to drill new holes for the bridge but the alignment is spot on.

LESSON #4: Bridge / neck alignment is critical and worth spending time on.

When I finally plugged the guitar in it sounded OK but not tele like. I think this is because of the pickups. I used GFS Fatbody pickups because I liked the look of them and the GFS website says they are really great. To be fair to GFS, they are not bad pickups, they just aren't Tele sounding. To my ear they are somewhat brittle sounding and lacking in depth. I think with a dark sounding amp they would sound good but with Fender scooped mids the mids are just too scooped.

LESSON #5: If you want it to sound like a Tele - use Tele pickups

Now that it has been strung up and sitting, I have been able to make the truss rod adjustments and cut the nut properly. I use the term properly because if I were paying for a nut from a luthier and this is what I got I would be upset. The string spacing is not perfect (the G and D are slightly too close together) but I don't notice it at all when playing so I have decided to leave it as is. Also, on this guitar, I have done zero fretwork and it plays fine but to get it to play great it would need a level and crown. The reality is that I am too lazy/tired to perform this work right now. It is not a big deal and my fretwork is actually OK but there have been so many setbacks with this guitar that I just want to leave it sit for awhile. Another issue is that the finish needs touching up as my two year old son knocked it over and put a few dings in the the finish.

LESSON #6: Freshly finished guitars should not be left in a room where your two year old child has access.

In the final analysis, the Musikraft neck is great, the GFS ash body is OK (but certainly worth the money I paid for it!) and the assembly is fine. The finish is awful and I would not use these pickups again but I enjoyed putting it together and I continue to gain respect and admiration for all the real builders out there that can put together amazing looking guitars. It requires a great deal of patience and care to make a guitar look as good as so many on this site do.
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Old January 6th, 2013, 09:06 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Sweeet! Love the color!
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Old January 6th, 2013, 10:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefanovich View Post
LESSON #2: Don't use a piece of rotten scrap wood you found on the ground to hold your guitar.
LOL. Yes, I did this very thing during my one and only refin. Got away with it, but with some cost to my sanity (incessant obsessive-compulsive checking that the thing was still holding firm).

Anyway, your guitar (including the finish) looks great!
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Old January 6th, 2013, 11:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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..... Another issue is that the finish needs touching up as my two year old son knocked it over and put a few dings in the the finish.........
Leave the dings, battle scars with a story. Years from now you can tell your Grandchildren how their Dad dented your guitar.
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Old January 7th, 2013, 10:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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That is EXCELLENT advice! Saves me work and I get some payback.
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Old January 7th, 2013, 11:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Sounds to me like you've just talked yourself into building from scratch . I see a lot of this with partscasters (not all, by any means). What you don't create, you (generic you btw) tend to have less respect for. I had problems for years with my youngest son slamming my car doors (which drives me insane AND can cause damage to the fit of the door). When he finally got a car HE had to pay for, now he's as paranoid and ruthless as the old Mongol hoards
I'm just trying to say, the more emotional investment you have with a thing, the more careful you'll be. E.G., you wouldn't buy a 350$ body from Warmoth and hang it on a scrap stick would you?
Just chalk that one up to experience and build the next one better...................you've already listed the lessons learned
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Old January 7th, 2013, 11:34 AM   #7 (permalink)
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learning the hard way is a pain… but nothing reenforces an education like adversity, and the positive.. the knowledge stays with ya forever.. or until that cerebral aneurysm . .. .

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Old January 9th, 2013, 01:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I was just thinking a sticky or epic thread covering all these lessons would be a great resource...
I know I had a few learning opportunities, or forced creativity moments.... and my builds are still not done...
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Old January 9th, 2013, 02:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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A very honest and helpful post Stefanovich - I'm currently revisiting my first partscaster because it's just nowhere near as good as the second one I did. Then I'll start reworking the second because it's not quite right, either.

If I ever do a third it might be halfway decent!
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Old January 9th, 2013, 06:09 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Thanks for the very descriptive story. I am hoping to start my first build soon and I expect I could mess up too. Good to know I ain't alone.

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