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Advice on Kit Guitar

Discussion in 'Finely Finished' started by TheletterJ, Dec 25, 2018.

  1. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

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    Hey guys,

    So my wife got me a guitar kit from thefretwire.com. It’s a Les Paul Custom (three pickup) style.

    The fun part will be finishing the guitar. The wood grain is pretty nice. Any recommendations on color or finish? I’m thinking of trying an oil finish. I want to give it a worn, vintage look if I can. Image1545752387.167057.jpg
     
  2. NICQ

    NICQ Tele-Meister

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    You could go Tru Oil which has a nice amber tint after some coats and is easy to apply

    Or stain the guitar which gives you endless posibilities in terms of colour and then finish with clear wipe on poly or rattlecan clear
     
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  3. NICQ

    NICQ Tele-Meister

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    Btw my favourite technique is staining the whole guitar black and then sandin back the middle to pop the grain and achieve something like a burst effect.. you can also do this with red and yellow on a les paul type guitar.. should look sweet

     
  4. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Poster Extraordinaire

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    That grain is going to pop , personally with that beautiful grain I’d use Tru-Oil on top of whatever color you choose.
    It’s a lot of elbow grease, but nothing shows the beauty of natural grain like Tru-Oil.
    The finish on the back of the neck effects the feel and in some cases the playability of the guitar.
    I personally love the way Tru-Oil feels, and ages on the neck.
    As you can tell, I’m a big fan of rub on finishes, TRu-Oil is best imo.
     
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  5. Fireball519

    Fireball519 Tele-Meister

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    It's a travesty with the grain being so pretty but those customs are always nicest in black IMHO. Maybe a transparent black?
     
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  6. Milspec

    Milspec Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I prefer to apply a little stain base (amber normally) and then coat in nitro. Gun oils are great, but they do take a lot of time compared to just shooting them with nitro and I prefer the way nitro ages. I am just starting to assemble my new telecaster and that is how my body has been done, a light stain base and nitro. It allows the grain to shine through and easy to apply.
     
  7. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    An oil finish will not give you a vintage look - they weren't finished that way originally. But if you haven't applied lacquer before you'd need extensive practice on scrap to apply the traditional Les Paul Custom black. I wouldn't recommend black for a first finish job - it's one of the most difficult colors to apply smoothly and shows very tiny variation in the grain (or application!).

    A rubbed-on oil finish like Tru Oil is easy - but also does not provide much surface protection. It is designed to penetrate and harden the wood (on gun stocks), but even a dozen coats builds only a fraction of the thickness of real coatings.

    You will get a ton of recommendations o favorite finishes, but (having done this stuff for a long time) I suggest doing a lot of reading and research apart from forum posts. Check wood finishing websites, manufacturers sites, and take an honest assessment of your skill level, environment (winter lacquer coating, for example, would be ill-advised where you are without temperature controls - and experience), familiarity with application equipment etc.

    That one will also be tricky to mask. Finishing is done after assembly. Spraying requires hanging or mounting vertically, so that's another consideration.

    Lots of stuff to think about, but you have time - it'll take a while to build it, especially if it's a first build (with another pile of infor to read!)

    Good luck!
     
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  8. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for sharing! I’ll be back here for reference often.
     
  9. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for the advice, Silverface. I have finished a guitar in nitro lacquer before but, to your point, I did it in winter and it didn’t come out as nice as it could have.

    I have been thinking about Tru Oil based on some of the build threads I’ve seen here and from the reviews.

    I also agree that Customs look the best in black with gold hardware, but I’m definitely going to use a finish that makes the grain show, and don’t want to mess with something so finicky.
     
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  10. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Doctor of Teleocity

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    Very cool kit Mr.J
    I've done 3 of those (well similar).
    Finiihing is the fun part. All lacquer on mine.
    20181225_112235.jpg
    Duplicolor Sunburst Gold (ironically)
    20181225_115408.jpg
    My Duane tribute with SD Antiquities.
    Good luck to ya whatever you decide. Keep us posted.
     
  11. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

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    Beautiful work, Tex.
     
  12. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

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    Double post...
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2018
  13. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

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    I’ve been busy working on this awesome project and liking the results so.

    So far I’ve died the top lemon yellow and mahogany brown for a little “honey burst” effect, stained the back and neck deep mahogany, and smoothed out the finish on the back and neck with 800 grit to give it an “antiqued” look. I shaped the headstock similar to a Gibson, but I’d say different enough to be unique.

    I also ordered custom headstock water slide logos and a little plaque with my family’s names on it to commemorate the final product.

    Still a lot of finishing work to go before I get to the electronics, and finally, setting the neck - but I’m enjoying the process! IMG_1189.JPG IMG_1191.JPG IMG_1189.JPG IMG_1176.JPG
    View attachment 572761


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  14. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

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    Here’s the top all dyed up: IMG_1190.JPG

    Still some imperfections, particularly near the lower bout, but those binding glue stains (or whatever they are) will be concealed by the fingerboard.


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  15. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    Question - why did you finish it before building it? FWIW the most common method for a set-neck (as mentioned earlier) is after neck glueing, especially if the neck and back colors are similar. It prevents and off-match in color between the two; also you're able to detail the neck joint so there are no gaps.
     
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  16. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

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    Well, the honest answer is “I didn’t know any better.” However, I haven’t started the Tru Oil yet - still working on evening out the body stain and cleaning up the binding. So maybe I’ll set the neck before going to the finish. It seems like it would be easier to work on the parts separately but I see what you mean about matching and cleaning up the neck pocket.


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  17. bender66

    bender66 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Dont take it as a given that all your points are going to line up correctly on these China kits. I'd mock it up & check your pocket angle & string alignment before gluing. Shims might be necessary. If so, keep track of where they go. This is the most important thing, imo. If you dont do this you'll be wondering later what you could have done differently. I see a lot of people glue them up straight out of the boxes. These aren't of Precision Guitar Works quality.

    Keep you neck heel/pocket clean of anything you've done up until now. I wouldn't have put that stain or filler on the heel. Hard to tell on my phone whats going on around that taped area.

    Looks good though. What are you gonna do for wiring?

    *backpeddle to add this kit is from Fretwire. My mistake on referring to it as a questionable China kit. Got my threads mixed up.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  18. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    Every one I've helped guys with and one I bought just for fiddling around needed shims with multiple angles to fit the neck - and wood removal in a couple cases. I also got one neck that was so twisted they replaced the entire kit.

    With opaque backs I I used Bondo filler/putty that comes in a single tube to detail the joints or multiple shims would hav been seen.

    The neck set angle is very critical and will require tools to set the angle within 1 degree; a small laser placed at the center of the body (but raised to fretboard level) is much easier o work with when aligning the neck side-to-side.

    If you can use hot hide glue it's HIGHLY recommended because you can steam it back apart if something goes awry. The bottled hide flue is not good for neck joints but is handy for small parts & repairs (just keep track of the expiration date).

    Otherwise, the only bottled glue I recommend for necks is "Old Brown Glue" It's very similar to hide glue, joints can be steamed apart if necessary, it needs to be refrigerated and warmed to a specific temperature for use, and does have an expiration date. But it hold up fine to the stress at the neck joint IF the parts fit tightly/without gaps and you don't "over-clamp" - which drives the glue through the wood and doesn't leave enough for adhesion.

    I'm strongly against the use of Titebond and similar glues for new builders - if you make a mistake...and chances are about 50/50...you can't steam the joint. It's virtually impossible to get a Titebond-glued joint apart without some wood damage.
     
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  19. TheletterJ

    TheletterJ Tele-Afflicted

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    Thanks for the feedback so far. I have taped off all the neck joint areas to get a clean surface to glue the neck in with.

    My plan was to place all the electronics into the body and set the neck as the final step. I am a bit worried about the neck. I suspect some shimming may be necessary and I’ll like consult one of my luthier friends for some help with that step.

    Electronic wise, I bought a pre-wired LP3 kit with CTS pots, and good switch and jack. I took one look at the electronics in this kit and realized that would be a necessity.

    I’m gonna role the dice on the pickups though. Easy enough to replace down the road, and being a single coil guy, I’m hoping these ones are on the weak side as import pickups usually are.


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  20. Silverface

    Silverface Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    It's funny, but sometimes imported Les Paul pickups have both low output and are fairly low in DC resistance (the two do NOT always relate - i.e. higher resistance doesn't always mean higher pout, a common misconception).

    But the output being "not hot" with low resistance is similar to how PAF's perform! The cheap pickups won't sound like PAF's, obviously - different construction, magnet type (usually ceramic) , spacers etc. But I've found pickups of that type have much better tone reaction to pick attack on the strings than inexpensive (even many pricier) "hot" humbuckers.

    So I would not be quick to replace them if they just have a DC resistance reading in the 7-9k range. In many you can also replace the pole pieces with a type that's very similar to the original alloy used in PAF's and P-90's.. It takes a little searching, but they're inexpensive and sometimes make a noticeable improvement in the inductance and resonant peak. I built one cheap LP kit for my son and one for a friend, installed better hardware and electronics - but used the stock pickups with changed adjustable polepieces - and both ended up being excellent guitars!
     
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