Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com
Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

“Primercaster” – First Kit Build

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by Gordi, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    This is my first post after stopping by the Welcome Wagon and I wanted to start my presence here thanking all of you who give freely of your time and knowledge showing the way for those of us who are just starting out. Special thanks goes to Colt W. Knight for all of his “How to” videos and posts.

    A little over a year ago I opened the case on my old Fender F-15 acoustic guitar. Something I hadn’t done more than 5 or 6 times in the last 25 – 30 years. Wait, that can’t be right, I mean, I‘m not even that old yet. Right? Anyway, I decided to see if an old dog could still learn new tricks.

    The good thing is that since the last time I tried this, the internet was invented. What a difference. Free, video based, guitar lessons from teachers with years of experience. This time I actually see progress in my playing and feel it may stick.

    As I practiced, I realized I wanted an electric guitar. I started looking and kind of had my mind set on a MIM tele as a good entry level guitar. So I started putting money away and went back to the internet to see what people had to say and ended up here at TDPRI. I don`t remember how I got to the Home Depot section, but once I found it, I couldn’t stop reading. The 2012 challenge build was still in progress. Wow… just wow. Guitars made from concrete, stir sticks, rulers, as well as the finishes, drawings glued on, Caribbean bursts, ebony body caps. What beauties.

    And of course, you all make it look so easy. Ya bastages. You fooled me good. I started thinking that maybe I didn’t have to give my hard earned money to Fender. I might be able to do this myself. Fortunately, a complete lack of woodworking tools and space meant I went looking for a kit rather than start from scratch.

    I settled on the Harley Benton T-Style kit from Musikhaus Thomann in Germany. I was surprised at the quality of the wood when I first saw the basswood body. There’s even a little flame in the maple neck, although you can’t see it in this picture.

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    I received the kit in September, and figured I’d have a guitar by Christmas. As usual, that didn’t happen. Something always comes up.

    --I’ll break this into several parts to keep it manageable.--
     

  2. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    So, with the kit in hand I first did what I had seen a lot of people here do and that made sense. Like I said, I’d never had an electric before, but I could see how those edges on the Tele could become uncomfortable real quick. So I took my rasp and made an armrest and belly cut.

    First I made a template:

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    Then filed to the lines:

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  3. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    And then worked the other side:

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    Then some sanding and we had the easy part done:

    9.jpg

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  4. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    It took me quite a while to find a supplier for nitrocellulose lacquer. For our European members I want to recommend the company Valresa for nitro lacquers. (I have no affiliation, they just worked well for me) They have a webpage called www.barnizparaguitarras.com which basically translates to “Varnish for Guitars”. They have and understand the Fender and Gibson catalog of colors and you can order by color name. I got the paint in 400ml rattle cans and they worked great. One of the cans did not spray, but after reading the FAQ on Valresa’s site, I put the cap in acetone for a while and cleaned it. After that, no problems. I still think I should have gone for seafoam green, but my daughters thought that Daphne Blue was nicer, so, that’s what I got.

    You know, I laugh at ya’ll in America complainin’ about Re-Ranch prices. I’d love to pay only that. A can of Re-Ranch Daphne Blue goes for $15.95 which is about €12.25. My paint was €20.90 (or $27.14) for each of the two cans of color and €15.96 ($17.13) for each can of clear. That’s right, more than twice as much. And we still have to add €9.00 shipping and 21% tax.

    But I still have to recommend them. The color is great and the quality of the paint, and even the rattle cans, is, in my non-experienced opinion, exceptional. One of the things that helped most, I think, as the paint came to the end was to use a trick from Ron Kirn. I would heat the cans in hot water for a while before painting and could get a really good layer of paint on without much orange peel. I just had to be careful of runs.

    Here you can see my high tech paint booth:

    11.jpg

    There is an empty area in the building I live in and a little plastic and an old coat hanger worked well. I wore a good organic vapor respirator and kept painting times to a minimum so the lack of ventilation wasn’t too much of a problem. I opened the windows once the paint had a chance to dry a bit.

    Meanwhile, I had to work on the headstock. I never did find decal paper here in Madrid. Apparently it is available, but no one had it in stock when I was looking. Finally I bought some from decalpaper.com as recommended by Colt. The price was right even though shipping nearly doubled it. I supplied a Fender logo to a friend who works in graphic arts and we created the “Kender” logo. Yeah, I know, not real original, but I really like it. We dubbed this the “PRIMERCASTER” since it’s my first. Primer comes from “primero” or first, not primer as in paint. I experimented with gold, silver and blue paint for the letters:

    12.jpg

    Then I cut the headstock shape. This went a lot easier than I had hoped, mainly due to information from here on TDPRI.

    Marked:

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    Final shape after sawing:

    15.jpg
     

  5. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    Sanding (PVC tubing works great for the radius):

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    Results:

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  6. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    Then a little lacquer and add the decal:

    21.jpg

    And then, more lacquer:

    22.jpg

    Here you can start to see a problem. On the upper left part of the leg on the letter “K”, the enamel paint I used for the letter started to wrinkle. Apparently there was a reaction with the nitro clear coat. I wasn’t sure what to do so finally decided to keep adding clear and see if it would sand out OK. Long story short, it didn’t. I spent a couple of weeks adding a coat a day and then letting that cure but, when I sanded, I hit that raised spot before the rest leveled.

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    So, it was sand back and re-apply.

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  7. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    I found that the Edding brand silver paint pen holds up well to the lacquer and, as a bonus, it has a real fine point that is easy to control. This time the decal buried without any problems.

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    At least without any problems on the front.

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    There was a major run on the back that just wasn’t sandable.

    So I took all the finish off the back and re-applied shellac, again using techniques from here. This came out quite well but I don’t seem to have a picture. I’ll take one if anyone wants to see it.

    I also had a couple of problems with sand through on the edges of the body. I don’t have any photos from wet sanding, but believe me, a few hours were spent there.

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    And I tried a few repair techniques, like painting through a hole cut in posterboard:

    29.jpg
     

  8. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    In the end it worked alright, so I started polishing. I didn’t really have a good idea of the products to use. Most of the products recommended here are either not available or are prohibitively expensive. In the end I decided to use Krafft products. I’d say they are at about the same level as Turtle Wax or something similar in the states. I started with their rubbing compound:

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    This took the haze off left from the 2000 grit wet sanding I had done. It was starting to look like this might actually work.

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    After that I used the Krafft polish

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    The result is hard to see here but let’s just say that I was unimpressed.

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    I mean, yes, I could see a reflection in the paint:

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    But I felt it could be better.
     

  9. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    While I looked for a product to finish the polishing, I decided to level the frets. This was a completely new prospect for me. I had read here how to do it but, hell, taking sandpaper to brand new frets really had me worried.

    First I made a leveling bar:

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    This is steel tubing, 40mm x 40mm and I sanded it using sandpaper on the table of a machine at work. I then checked it on the granite table in the quality assurance shop. Less than 0.05mm in the whole length.

    I check the flatness of the neck with this scale made by marking the frets from this neck and cutting with a radial saw with a fiber disc.

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    After seeing the neck in Ron Kirn’s fret leveling thread, I wasn’t too surprised at what I saw. After all, this is not a top quality, expensive neck.

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    Pretty typical I’d say.
    There were a couple of spots I thought about just leaving, but in the end, I believe I got it all level:

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  10. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    And on to crowning. I felt bad because I didn’t buy a fret file from Thomann when I got the kit. Sure they had one for less than 19 euros but there is a 20euro shipping charge for orders less than 300 euros. So now it’s quite expensive. In the end I found this fret file similar to that at Stew Mac for 56 euros. Not too bad considering tax is included. In the end the Stew Mac price of $47.38 suddenly looks cheap in comparison. Never saw that coming, eh?

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    So this was a lot of new territory for me. In the end, I think I did an acceptable job. I need to find others who will let me do this to their guitars to get techniques down.
     

  11. bcarter_1

    bcarter_1 Tele-Holic

    984
    Feb 27, 2011
    Salt Lake City, Utah
    Looking good so far!
     

  12. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    Then I decided to shield the cavities. This could have gone better, I guess, but I still think it’s OK. The copper I used is normally for burnishing over artwork and is heavier than foil. A thinner foil would be better. I’ll be on the lookout for a better material. I also didn’t do the angles well. I thought I could solder all of the angles but I should have made overlaps. Even so, I think it’s OK.

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    I had to re-do the grounding from the neck pup cavity to the control cavity because the wire was too thick. This kit has connectors from the pups to the control knobs instead of solders. In the end, I had to cut both of the pups connectors and re solder in the control cavity due to the size of the holes. In the end, everything works, so I’m happy.
     

  13. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    I finally found a good polishing compound with carnauba wax.

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    This is the result on the headstock.

    Amazing.

    So I did the rest of the body:

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    It’s hard to see, but the result is much better.

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    Then, on to assembly:

    Had to do some sanding to get the neck to fit after having painted.

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    In the end, an acceptable job, I think.

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  14. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    Put some shielding on the pickguard to reduce static:

    51.jpg

    Bridge, pickguard, neck, and finally, the control panel. Had to re-solder the connectors from the pickups after inserting them. I think it would have easier to just solder them directly to the pots.

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  15. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    And finally, it’s starting to look like a guitar!!!

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    A few adjustments after stringing up:

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    And finally:

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    Intonation was fun as I hadn’t done that before. I thought I had it taken care of, but the bottom E and A strings were sharp up near the nut. After a week or so of playing and stretching the strings, I intonated it again and found the problem. Now it sounds good on all of the frets. Or at least as good as it can with me playing it.

    In the end I’m glad I did this. This guitar means much more to me than anything I could have bought. I understand it better, and that means a lot as I don’t have years of experience playing as many of you do.

    Again, my thanks to all who participate here. I’m not sure where this will lead me. I’d really like to do more with this, but many here understand when I say there is no room at the moment (I live in the center of Madrid) and, like most, money is always a problem. Especially when you have to start from scratch for woodworking tools and all. But we’ll see. I’m just glad you guys are here and willing to share your knowledge. I’m sure there are many others, like me, who use the information given freely here but, for whatever reason, never give back. I wanted to at least thank you, and felt the best way was at least building this partscaster.

    Regards,

    Ken
     

  16. Glen Smith

    Glen Smith RIP

    Aug 20, 2011
    Canada
    That is beautiful, you did a great job!
     

  17. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    Thanks for that vote of confidence. In the end it all seemed to work out pretty well. My daughter mentioned that it looked "store-bought", so that made me feel good. But like I said, it wouldn't have happened without the people here at TDPRI. It seemed like for every question I had, I always found an answer here. I guess that's why I didn't join sooner. All my questions had already been answered!
     

  18. Gordi

    Gordi TDPRI Member

    22
    Mar 10, 2013
    Madrid, Spain
    Thanks Glen. Glad you liked it. I was surprised at all that was involved (and the time), but I'm quite pleased with the end result.
     

  19. Glen Smith

    Glen Smith RIP

    Aug 20, 2011
    Canada
    How long did it take you from beginning to end?
     

  20. crazydave911

    crazydave911 Poster Extraordinaire

    Age:
    58
    Feb 23, 2010
    East Tennessee

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