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R. Stratenstein's 2012 Challenge Build Thread -- COMPLETED

Discussion in '2012 TDPRI Tele Build Challenge' started by R. Stratenstein, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Thanks, rcole. Ya, the TO does a great job. And best of all, on the last full day of the challenge--dries real fast!!
     
  2. adirondak5

    adirondak5 Wood Hoarder Extraordinaire

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    So close , it's looking great Rick :)
    And as Larry would say ,

    GIT-ER-DONE ! :lol:

    [​IMG]
     
  3. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Welcome to Page 8 !

    Happy Mother's Day, y'all.


    I realized I had not included the obligatory chow shots. I've seen brisket, fajitas, steak, and Mmmmmm-a variety of bacon. Here's what I generally get for lunch on build days: :(

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    So, returning now to the shop, we find the color coats on the body, and the TruOil coat on the neck now dry. Applied a quick coat of TO on the neck, and got the body down for more work.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    The last round of color coats left a little roughness in the surfaces, needed sanding. Earlier, I discovered that 320 grit was capable of sanding through the color coats, so I went all the way up to 600 grit.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    It did well, cut very, very slowly, did not sand through any color, and got rid of most of the texture. Eventually, there will be enough lacquer coats to fill this and make a level surface for polishing.

    The faux binding process went well, also. I followed Jack Wells' instructions that he posted for his Thinline transparent orange guitar, using some 320 grit paper on a fingertip, and a razor blade to expose a bit of the top surface to give it some depth.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    Per the LMI Sunburst finish video instructions, after the color coats, and exposing the faux binding edge, you need a couple of light coats, lightly sanded, of clear shellac. I poured myself a shot of Everclear--

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    No, just kidding, I poured out about 3/4 oz. of alcohol to thin the shellac down a bit, hoping to make a smoother finish. It seemed to work, as the shellac coats were fairly smooth, and needed only a light, quick kiss of the sandpaper.

    Now it's lacquer time. I used Minwax rattlecan clear gloss lacquer, because (1) I have used it before with pretty good success.
    (2) It seems to dry AND harden up very fast. Passes fingernail test under good spraying conditions, in 2 hours or less.

    The first coats went on well, made one run which pretty well flattened out by itself, then it was time for supper.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    When I got back down to the shop, conditions were not improving for spraying. Marginal at best. Luckily, I didn't get any blush, but I took it pretty easy on application.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    I didn't take any more photos of the finishing process, but I shot two full rattle cans of Minwax Gloss Lacquer on, then decided to stop. I got a couple of runs from trying to hurry and put on heavy coats. It has a pretty fair glossy finish with only one light leveling sanding, and a couple of coats of lacquer. I'll complete the finish and buff it out later.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    Time to work on the nut. Before I shot the lacquer, I applied another coat of TO on the neck, and it was now dry. Took the neck down and measured it for the nut.

    I like the half-pencil method.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    Got a rough height and width measurement drawn on the bone blank, and chucked it in my little tabletop vise. My Dad gave me this vice a number of years ago, and I finally found its ultimate best use--making guitar nuts. It has a padded jaw, quick close and open, and its base just fits into the Workmate opening, where it can be clamped securely in place.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    Used my razor saw to start roughing out the shape. I like this saw, its only drawback is that it has a wide blade, which makes it want to cut in a straight line. To get the curved profile of the top of a nut, you need to stop every so often, and make a relief cut so you can angle the blade to follow your pencil line.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    After roughing out shape, a lot of filing and sanding to get it to the right width, so the string locations can be marked. I like to use this chart.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    A bit more sanding and filing to rough the shape of the radius a little more, and sawed the string locations in with the razor saw to get them started. I'll use the nut slot files I have to get the final depth, as part of the final assembly and set up.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    Took some time while waiting between lacquer coats to pre-wire the jack and control plate. I found some nifty looking reproduction cloth covered wire I'd used for a radio rebuild job years ago, that I forgot I had. It's not black, but dark green, and close enough. The white on the other hand, is very white. I used the OEM specs for the tone bleed cap, which is said to make the tone more and more shrill as you pot down the volume. I usually run volume all the way up anyway, and can snip the cap off easily if I don't like it.

    [​IMG][/IMG]


    [​IMG][/IMG]

    While Mr. Compressor blows off some water, I'd like to point out one tip before we get too far from compressed air operations.

    Moisture in compressed air is your enemy. There is nothing good that comes from moisture in compressed air, and compressing air, also traps the moisture in the air. Chemical dessicant units and mechanical moisture traps do a good job, however, they do not work well at all, if the moisture in the compressed air is in vapor form. Vapor moisture appears at the tip of your spray gun, when the sudden cooling condenses this moisture, mixing water with your paint, and ruining your day. It also introduces moisture into air tools, and does all other kinds of mischief.
    The simple truth is that you want to condense the moisture in your system from vapor into water droplets, because your moisture traps can't deal with water in vapor form very well. If you Google compressed air moisture, you'll see all kinds of elaborate methods that have been invented to cool the air, so that the vapor will condense into droplets, so the moisture traps can catch it. Copper manifolds, coils of hose in cold water tubs, even mechanical refrigeration units are all used. A simpler method, that works well on all but the hottest, most humid days for me is simply a long hose on a cool concrete surface, like my basement floor. The further the air is from the hot compressor, the more it cools in the long hose, and is in water droplet form by the time it reaches the moisture trap on the end of my spray gun. I use a filter/moisture trap right at the compressor, but it doesn't catch anywhere near the amount of moisture that the one at the gun does.

    OK-- last operation I got done yesterday was to put on tuning machines. To avoid much grief, I observed the 3 main rules of small screws into (thin) maple parts--
    1. Use the right size pilot bit.
    2. Use a tape flag or some other kind of device to alert you when to stop drilling, so you don't drill clean through the wood.
    3. Lubricate your screws.

    Somebody gave me a set of electric screwdriver accessories that included a set of drill bits that have hex shanks, that fit into my electric screwdriver. They make it easier to precisely, and carefully drill the tiny pilot holes for such things as tuning machines.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    I lined 'em up in their holes, screwed the ferrules down into the machines, and slightly tightened them. I inherited this tiny adjustable wrench from my Dad, and IMO, it works even better than a socket for tightening small things like these ferrules.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    Lined the machines up on the back with a metal rule, marked the hole locations with a small awl, and drilled the pilot holes while the machines were still in place. Stuck the screws in my toilet wax ring for lube (supposed to be beeswax and other stuff)--and drove them home--by hand, NOT with the electric screwdriver:eek:
    [​IMG][/IMG]

    Last thing last night is that I tidied up my bench for final assembly. Not that it needed it or anything

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    Next up--final assembly, electronics, set up, and hopefully (but don't get your hopes up too high) the dreaded video.

    Thanks for looking,
    Rick
     
  4. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    :lol::lol::lol:

    Thanks, Lar- - -uh, I mean adriondak5. Got me fingers crossed.
     
  5. Muzikp

    Muzikp Friend of Leo's

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    Aaahhh Yeah! That's looking awesome, nice color choice. Looks like you are really close, your probably busting out the vid as I write this.
     
  6. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    The Last Big Push

    As it so happens Muzikp, I was bustin out the vid about the time you were writing! ;)

    Took Larry the Cable Guy's advice to heart, and got 'er done--today, which was my goal! Overall, I give myself a solid B. Not bad for a noob, if I do say so myself. There is still a good bit to do, but it is a finished, functioning guitar that holds its tune as well as any freshly-strung guitar does.

    Started by removing the paint stick, of course. I could not get tuners mounted on it, and fretting--forget it. :)

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    Had to commemorate the occasion by writing a small book inside the neck pocket, in case somebody opens it up in future years and wonders where it came from.
    [​IMG][/IMG]

    Screwed the neck on, using an old Squier marked neck plate. While plowing through my parts box looking for something else, I found a new Allparts plain neck plate, so I put that on. So I deleted the photo of me screwing on the neck plate. You can probably use your imagination, tho.


    Then it was time for installing the string-through ferrules. I'd read about people putting so many coats of lacquer on that they needed to melt them into place by heating with a soldering iron. I didn't need to do that, just a couple of whacks with a wooden mallet on a dowel placed in the ferrule, and they sank home. I had sanded so much that they aren't flush with the rear any more, I'll have to remember to use Jack Wells' trick of putting a nice taper on them, and sinking them in a bit, using a conical grinding stone in a drill. It looks great. But mine look OK, I think.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    I have a new set of Lawrence Micro Coils Tele pickups, but decided to use some oldies I have in my parts box at least for testing. The neck pickup had a fossilized piece of rubber foam on the bottom of it. It was crumbling, so I broke it completely off, and scraped off the residue.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    It also occurred to me that I'd better test both of the pickups to make sure they work. The guy I bought them from actually attached a tag on the bridge pickup, pointing out that the small ground wire from the coil to the bottom plate had come loose, and needed to be soldered back. He was up front about it when I bought it, so that was fine, took about 15 seconds once the iron was hot to fix. Both pickups were reading right around 7 k Ohms.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    I mounted the neck pickup in the black pickguard, which fit perfectly around the neck, on the horn, and aligned with the control plate route. Drilled the holes and screw it down.

    Then, sure enough, ole Man Murphy and his whole law book came calling. I guess I had a premonition, or something, but all along, despite being as sure as I could be when I marked and drilled the holes, something about the bridge placement kept on bothering me.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    If you look at the upper edge of the bridge, where it is next to the pickguard, you can see the problem. There are two screws in the bridge, but the other two tend to pull it in this direction, also. It's misaligned, and I can't live with that.

    Easy fix, so I thought. Using a round file, rat tail file, and a metal countersink, I elongated the holes so the bridge could rotate in the direction I needed it to go.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    . . .except that it wouldn't rotate in the direction I needed it to go. No matter how much I filed, etc., when I tightened down the screws, the bridge rotated out of alignment.

    Damme, I certainly don't need a problem like this at such a late date. I played around with the screw locations, putting each screw in one at a time, to see which holes were aligned, and which were out of whack.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    The combination that worked best, as seen in the shot above, is with the two top screw holes centered, the bottom two are pretty far out of alignment. Nothing for it but to plug the damn things and re-drill.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    Of course, I had to whittle and sand on the dowel inserts to get them roughly the shape of the screw, as I wanted the entire screw hole completely plugged. It occurred to me that I had been liberally lubricating the screws with beeswax, so the holes would be well-coated, and unlikely to be receptive to glue. I twisted some small, long cones of paper towels, and liberally cleaned out the holes with naptha. Finally, to speed the process, and give some body to my patch, I decided to use thick CA glue.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    It was purely Grace and a Gift that I had a 1/8" dowel laying around. Don't know what I got it for, but thank goodness it was, or I'd still probably be trying to whittle down a 2x4 or something.

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    So I got the bridge on and the bridge pickup installed and wires pulled to the control cavity. Installed my pre-wired jack to the Electrosocket, drilled and screwed the mounting screws in for it. What a great product. Again, because of all the sanding I did, the formerly flush rim of the ES was standing a good bit proud of the surface now.

    Time for electronics.
     
  7. nosmo

    nosmo Friend of Leo's

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    I put a set of Micro Coils in a Warmoth partscaster and I must say they are the best pickups I have ever heard. If you decide to use them, you won't be disappointed.

    The guitar looks fantastic. I've heard red guitars play faster - don't know if that's true. Guess we'll find out when we see the video :D
     
  8. Muzikp

    Muzikp Friend of Leo's

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    [​IMG]

    Yep I like to color coordinate my tools to my guitar also - good choice.

    Man that top is beautiful and the faux binding is awesome. I can't believe you only gave yourself a B. Dude it's way better than that. I think the curve is throwing us off a bit though. Somehow we ended up in a class with motor-city, scatterlee, herb, Glenn, Kwerk, guitarnut etc etc. It's tough being graded on a curve against those kinds of builders. Still I'd score you higher than a B, it looks awesome.
     
  9. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Finishing Up

    DRilled holes for the strap buttons on the upper bout and at the tail. Screwed the upper bout one in, but left the other one off for now--will show you why in a minute.

    [​IMG][/IMG]


    With wires pulled to the control cavity from the neck pickup, the bridge pickup, and the jack (the additional bridge ground I was going to use I decided was unnecessary, and so I cut it off), time to solder everything in.

    I put an offcut from the body next to the edge of the Tele to support the control plate, and covered everything with a folded towel.
    [​IMG][/IMG]

    Although I'm fairly experienced with electronics, this is a high-anxiety deal here, and because I don't want anything to go wrong, it never hurts to have a diagram.

    I discovered that my control plate did not come with mounting screws (how freaking cheap can you be? :rolleyes:) so I had to dig around my hardware bins to find something that fit. I found two, but decided to use only one, as I'm not sure the "right" ones will fit in the pilot holes for the temporary ones. So the control plate is mounted with only one screw. :cry:

    The nut needed attention next. I used my nut slot files--a highly specialized tool that I think is necessary, but found out after I'd bought these that a few minutes with a triangle file and a set of feeler gauges will make you a set that work just as well:p, but anyway, I pulled out the files that most nearly matched the string sizes I'd be using. Filed preliminary slots where the saw cuts were that I'd previously made to mark the holes.

    I had no delusions about this step. It usually takes me the better part of a day to set up a guitar that needs work on the nut. It is an intensely re-iterative process, stringing up, unstringing, filing carefully a bit, trying it again, adjusting the bridge (all of which, comes after you're sure the neck has a slight relief, the frets are level, even and properly crowned and polished, etc. etc. etc.). And lastly, intonation. My poor little Tele got very little of the process, because there just wasn't time. I promised to do her justice when I can. To her credit, she played and held a tune fairly well. Without using my electronic tuner, she was reasonably well intonated right out of the shop. So anyway, the whole neck thing needs a lot of attention. I did not file the nut slots for the e and b strings to the full depth of the saw cuts, and as a result, they have a kind of muffled "sitar" sound that is about as Un-Tele as you can get.

    Anyway, got her strung up, unfortunately, my crude neck building required two string trees, so I screwed them on, and tuned her up.

    I'd been in a "what's next to do" mode for so long, it was a real shock to realize--hey, there's nothing to do, it's finished.

    Remember I said I did not attach the end button--well, that was so my new baby could sit on a scale for her birth weight.

    [​IMG]

    111 ounces--just a hair shy of 7 pounds. About right for a bouncing baby Tele !

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    After putting on the end button, I just had to step back and take her last photo as a project, beginning her new career as a guitar!



    [​IMG][/IMG]

    [​IMG][/IMG]
     
  10. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Whoops

    Meant to hit the preview post button, but posted it anyway, even with some of the photos repeated and out of order. Fellow Challengers will know what I mean when I say I am pretty well emptied out about now.

    There's still finishing to finish, for some reason the center position of my pickup switch doesn't work, the pickups are reversed, and there's all the neck and set up work to be done, but it's substantially done.

    What a great ride it's been, though. All the things that worked better than you'd hoped for, the stuff that went south and needed some gently coaxing, if not some foul language to get it on track.

    I guess the best compliment I can quote is my wife, who was in the next room while I was warming up for the video. She has suffered 2 months of virtual widowhood, not to mention Eau du Lacquer wafting up through the house, and a number of other indignities--well, she came in and said, "hey, it sounds pretty good." If you know my wife, that's really high praise.

    Here is the photo I meant to close out the last post with:

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    And here she is sitting in my office chair, waiting for an Amp to speak through

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    Thanks for looking,
    Rick
     
  11. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Completed !

    Here are the beauty shots, courtesy of my son, Robbie. I'd hoped to get a shot of the completed guitar under the same tree where the wood started out in March, but it was raining pretty hard most of the day. :(

    [​IMG][/IMG]

    [​IMG][/IMG]


    PLEASE USE THIS ONE AS THE "OFFICIAL" PHOTOGRAPH


    [​IMG][/IMG]


    And of course--gulp--the video. It's supposed to be unprofessional to tell people how bad your efforts are and such, but I'm not a professiona, so here's my video. It's not very good, but it's a minute and 33 seconds which fulfills the 1 minute requirement of the guitar playing, per the rules.



    Paul, I'm done now! Thanks.
     
  12. R. Stratenstein

    R. Stratenstein Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Thanks, guys, those are very kind words. Nosmo, I hope red guitars play faster, I've always wanted to be quite a bit faster. I just discovered sweep picking, and maybe my lil red Tele will be the gal to learn me to do it. I am dying to hear those micro coils, but want to get the guitar up to snuff first. I think it will pass muster eventually, but needs some work.


    Muzikp, it took me several spoiled batches of finish to get that Skil red-orange just right! :cool: In my rush, I completely forgot to mention the faux binding. I am pleased at how it came out, and it's kind of you to compliment it. I may start calling it PRS binding, cuz faux sounds so- - -well, fakey.

    It amazes me how many guys with small shops, or few tools, or both, turn out such beautiful instruments. I feel kind of like the spoiled little boy, but in reality, they have a bunch of guitars behind them. Us, we gotta plug away, learning our lessons along the way.

    Thanks again for the very kind words.

    PS--Is everyone else like me, and relieved to be able to be just a lurker for a while on the forum?
     
  13. Muzikp

    Muzikp Friend of Leo's

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    Boy you said it. I have to admit I was burnt out on focusing so hard on this thing for 60 days. I am so glad to be over it for now. I'm sure when I snap out of it I'll be like "Hey where did this cool guitar come from" :D.

    I know it's hard to photograph red but man yours looks great. It looks so nice and shimmery in this shot. Great job. I really like the black fret board against the red also.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Barncaster

    Barncaster Doctor of Teleocity

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    Really sweet Rick! Congratulations!

    Rob
     
  15. kwerk

    kwerk Poster Extraordinaire

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    Amazing, R.

    What a beautiful instrument. The red is insane!
     
  16. adirondak5

    adirondak5 Wood Hoarder Extraordinaire

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    Excellent Rick , looks and sounds great , congrats :)
     
  17. CarlosN

    CarlosN Tele-Meister

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    Love love love the red flamed top, looks pro! Really nice match with the flamed maple in the neck. Great looking guitar all around, you should be very proud, you did a great job and it finished so nice! Congrats on your NGD!
     
  18. CarlosN

    CarlosN Tele-Meister

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    Oh, and you must be proud, you switched your avatar!
     
  19. RogerC

    RogerC Poster Extraordinaire

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    Great work, Rick! You ended up with a beautiful color there.

    And make sure to email Paul to alert him that you're done.
     
  20. OpenG Capo4

    OpenG Capo4 Friend of Leo's

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    Is that a Bassman you're playing thru in the video? Sounds good.
     
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