NG-F-KD, sort of

cometazzi

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As in, "New Guitar-From-Kit Day... sorta".

1660508741043.png


You've all seen those cheep-o 12-string guitar kits on Ebay, I'm sure. Here's one in the flesh. I strung it up for the first time last night, but I bought this kit July 12, 2019 according to my email archives. I had never built a guitar kit before. Aside from swapping pickups and doing some meager setups, I had never really tinkered on a guitar before. Amplifiers and stompboxes yes. Guitars, no.

This has been full of surprises. It was billed as a basswood body, and given that basswood usually doesn't have any visible grain I expected it to be plain, ugly or worse. I had plans of painting this guitar white or similar, but when I cracked the shipping box open and saw that grain, I was all "oh damn, this is going to get a natural finish". I'm a sucker for natural finishes on guitars. And furniture. I guess I like wood of any sort.

I expected it to be a real hassle with poorly-drilled holes and parts fitment, and that I would get a real lesson on woodworking and disappointment. That couldn't be further from the truth. Everything lined up perfectly, so much so that I was mildly disappointed that it went together so easily. I expected to have to solder up all the electric bits, but they were pre-assembled. There's even a cutesy little connector to unify the pickguard with the input jack. Awww....

I expected it to be a tuning and intonation nightmare. Tuning is actually pretty stable, and the intonation seems right-on right out of the box. I'm still dialing in the setup (1/4 turn at a time) but it plays nicely and sounds way better than I expected for $99. The body is routed H-S-H and I was originally going to go nuts with pickups but I think I'll just leave it as-is. The stock pickups sound better than what came on any Affinity Strat I've ever owned.

A few caveats:

1) The body is (best guess from @guitarbuilder) paulownia. It's super light and super soft. So easy to put a ding into it, and even a fingernail with enough pressure to bust a saltine cracker can leave an impression.

2) Light body means it's a little neck-divey with all those tuners on the end of the stick. Not terribly so, but it's not 'balanced' on the strap like a regular Stratocaster is.

3) The bridge saddles are made in a way where each string in a pair sit at different heights. I misinterpreted this as "wound strings go on the lower one, plain strings go on the taller one". That actually works to keep them roughly the same height, but only if the regular and octave strings have switched sides (regular string faces me, octave string faces the floor). When it comes to the unison strings, I'll have to make a compromise when it comes to the action. For now, it's going to remain strung "the wrong way".

Probably the most time I spent working on it (hands-on working, that is) is polishing the frets. The treble side of the neck looked like a milling machine head had clipped about 1/8 of the fret surface towards the edge. I bought a fret polishing kit on Amazon and it worked way better than I expected. I also had to file the fret ends, sand the body (or maybe I didn't?) and dribble a bunch of TiteBond down all the screw holes because I don't trust the strength of this wood. But hey, it's a kit!

It's been fun? It sounds great, the playability is getting better with each tweak, and I learned a bit. I had never assembled a guitar from parts, never finished a guitar body, never strung a 12-string and never polished frets.

Baby steps!

The shipping carton said "RAS Guitar" and at one point I found a website. It looked like they were responsible for most of the guitar kits you see on eBay. I took a quick look again just now and didn't see anything. Maybe they got bought up or maybe they're no more.

This is no Rickenbacker or even Danelectro, but it was a fun way to blow $99 plus plus materials plus time plus waiting plus effort.

Also, my fingers are killing me now from playing a 12-string.
 

cometazzi

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Oh man, imagine the tuning nightmare a 12-string guitar would be with a non-locking trem...

I'd say it was fun. I think I enjoy building amplifiers more than guitars, but I am toying with the idea of building a dual-humbucker strat. This time a proper partscaster, not a kit.

I just need to research and figure out where everyone gets the quality but fairly-priced parts.
 

Skyhook

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Oh man, imagine the tuning nightmare a 12-string guitar would be with a non-locking trem...
I'd actually prefer that to having to set up a 12-string Floyd Rose.
That's why I haven't bought anything floatier than a Strat bridge since 1994.
 

cometazzi

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I'd actually prefer that to having to set up a 12-string Floyd Rose.
That's why I haven't bought anything floatier than a Strat bridge since 1994.

I have one guitar with a Floyd trem:

1664065569358.png

It's actually really great. I can do all the fearless dive bombs and wang wiggelry and it always snaps right back into tune.
 

Skyhook

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I have one guitar with a Floyd trem:

View attachment 1032761

It's actually really great. I can do all the fearless dive bombs and wang wiggelry and it always snaps right back into tune.
I'm sure it is! Beautiful RG btw!
I've got nothing against Floyds so long as my guitar tech sets them up
and hands them to me. They're great fun to use.
Only thing is... I don't have a guitar tech!
Until the day I do, I play hardtails(Strat-type bridges qualify as hardtails for me).
I compensate by using a Whammy pedal.
 

cometazzi

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I'm sure it is! Beautiful RG btw!
I've got nothing against Floyds so long as my guitar tech sets them up
and hands them to me. They're great fun to use.
Only thing is... I don't have a guitar tech!
Until the day I do, I play hardtails(Strat-type bridges qualify as hardtails for me).
I compensate by using a Whammy pedal.

Vintage mid-90s RG450dx, no less. That doesn't mean anything to anyone, but I felt like saying it.

One of my partscaster goals is to assemble a Floyd-equipped Surf Machine, and pair it up with a home-made tube amp featuring a Fender 6G15-type outboard reverb circuit built into the front-end. Cathode-based Tremolo and all that.

I'll be unstoppable!
 




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