To those that build guitars

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Fretting out, Jul 15, 2019.

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  1. Fretting out

    Fretting out Tele-Holic

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    I have a question about something I was discussing today.
    To those of you that build your own guitars if you only focus on one at a time until completion how long does this take you?
    I know this depends on multiple factors but maybe you can mention what they are and what time they add?

    I also glanced at the archives and couldn’t find an answer. I’m also curious about fender custom shop and master builder wait time? ( that is once they start the build)
    And possibly what our native luthier Ron Kirns wait time is ?
    And if Ron doesn’t mind I’d like to ask him the same question above about his actual build time (that is if he sees this)
    I’d also understand if Ron would not like to share those details
     
  2. 8barlouie

    8barlouie Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    You can contact Ron right here on this forum. @Ronkirn You won’t find a guy who can build a better guitar and you won’t find anyone who will so willingly share his knowledge of building guitars. IMO
     
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  3. RodeoTex

    RodeoTex Poster Extraordinaire

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    I used to always estimate 40 hours of actual hands-on for a Fender type guitar.
    I suspect it is really much less than that.
    Of course those hours would be spread over 1-6 months.
     
  4. Steve Holt

    Steve Holt Tele-Afflicted

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    I've never built one this fast, because I always hit snags where I'm waiting on parts, or it's too humid to paint, or the painting doesn't go well so I stop and take a few weeks off, but realistically I could probably do one in 2 months or less. Maybe a month if I worked on it every day and pushed through the finishing.

    Body glue up - 1 day
    Route the body - 1 day
    Neck - 3-4 days with gluing up the fretboard and shaping and sanding
    Sand it all and prep for finish - 1-2 days
    Finish - 3-4 weeks by the time you spray and sand and let the lacquer cure
    Assembly - day
    Procrastination - infinite days
    Fixing things that didn't go right...well...

    So I'm no professional, but that's about how long any given step will take.

    I started this one in January, but I had to get help from a coworker who had access to a drum sander to get the top thicknessed for me. And then winter was in full swing and it was just too cold to be outside in my unheated shop for too long. I'm too cheap to run my propane heater too much. And then April rolled around and I got busy making pens. And then and then and then...you know how it goes. Anyway I got it "done" and now all I have to do is install the string tree, install the strap buttons, and replace the linear taper pots with audio taper, because I don't like how fast the volume rolls off.

    http://www.tdpri.com/threads/thinline-jazzmaster-build.959484/

    20190712_210802.jpg
     
  5. USian Pie

    USian Pie Tele-Meister

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    If we're talking about partscasters, it depends on how many parts I order and how fast I want to go. If all parts are available, everything is already finished, and I want to get it done, I can do assembly over a weekend.

    Typically, though, I stretch it out a bit more. I tend to spread out the expense.

    Once it's together, the longer part for me is the setup. Tweaking intonation and dialing in neck bow takes a few days. I usually adjust, let sit overnight, measure, and adjust again until it doesn't need any more. Good fretwork might take some time, too.

    If you do your own finish, that also takes several days of spraying, drying, sanding, repeat.
     
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  6. Vibrolux59

    Vibrolux59 TDPRI Member

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    Tough question for a hobby builder. I've built a couple of dozen+ between '78 and now, never tracked my time or gone at it at any serious pace. Some projects drag on. I no longer make bodies even though I am set up well for doing that. Only made one neck, too easy to buy. That said if I was on a deadline, had all the raw parts ready to go I imagine I COULD finish, assemble, and set up a Tele or Strat in 10/12 hours stretched out over a week to allow dry times. I might spend over 1/3 of that time on neck and frets and other detail work, I usually buy fat necks and shape them to my hand along with rolling the edges. I built high-end cabinets and furniture for 50+ years and have a well-equipped home shop that I made a living out of for a few years so I am accustomed to working with my hands with wood and lacquer. It's more likely I have over 30 hours in every guitar I've put together because I enjoy the process and take a lot of breaks.
     
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  7. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I made five blueprint (from the TDowns prints) teles. I did not make the necks; I ordered them from Warmoth and Musikraft. From the start to finish (after the first one, which took longer), each one probably took about 3 months. They're kind of like my kids: I love them all the same, but I love each one differently.

    I just took delivery of a strat neck. This one will probably take longer, since I never made a strat body before, and have to line up and prep the right piece of wood for the body. I'm guessing six months. I enjoy "composing" my own guitar, considering each part and how it will affect the whole guitar. I don't plan to do any modding once a build is done.
     
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  8. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's

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    Three months is about normal for me working from a body blank. I buy the necks off the shelf so that part doesn't count. Some of the delay is just selecting the parts as well as just taking my time to enjoy the process....it is a hobby for me and not a business. I suppose if you wanted to and had all the parts on hand, you could knock one out pretty quick, but that is never my situation. Hell, I will drive myself crazy selecting the right neck and pups alone for the build.

    You also have to consider the finish on the body as that can add / subtract a lot of time itself.
     
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  9. BryMelvin

    BryMelvin Tele-Afflicted

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    For me I do it mainly as a hobby. Electrics I make I don't currently make the neck. I outsource that until I get a neck jig made.

    I got bored with making solid body electrics and now prefer to make hollow body electrics and acoustics. It takes me about 6 months to finish one but I do have several in progress at any time.

    We still make ash and poplar tele bodies and keep a few in stock.

    Note: No retail We only sell through a few Music stores. So I'm not advertising and in fact have no time for additional work.
     
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  10. reckless meanie

    reckless meanie Tele-Meister

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    Ron’s made me 4 guitars and all have taken 4-6 months from order time to when they show up at my house. It seems like it has taken about 4 months from the time he laid saw to wood to when I had them in my hand. If you’re thinking of a custom made guitar for yourself I haven’t played anything that’s as consistently good as his stuff. He’s great to work with as well.
     
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  11. Mase

    Mase Tele-Meister

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    I don't do bodies anymore, as I have nowhere to paint I can get an acceptable finish.

    Necks take 6 hrs to get to the point I can glue on the fingerboard,(fret slots cut, radius sanded,tuners drilled for).
    4 hrs to carve the neck and do the sanding.
    1 hr to put the frets in and file the angle on their ends.
    No idea how long it takes to put the lacquer on as I usually spray a coat, do something else, spray a coat, do something else etc etc.

    I have made 18 necks from scratch in the last couple of years, all usable but probably only the last 6/7 that I am really happy with.
    Its a learning thing for me.I want to get really good at it and the only way I know how to do that is through practice and process.
     
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  12. Fretting out

    Fretting out Tele-Holic

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    Thanks for sharing I find most people are at the opposite end of the spectrum and prefer to make their own bodies and out source the necks they need .
    Personally I have a body 75 percent done and am kind of apprehensive about making a neck and want to make sure I do it 100% correct.

    Did you have playable / decent results with the first neck you built?
     
  13. jvin248

    jvin248 Poster Extraordinaire

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    Get a few boards of inexpensive lumber, pine or poplar, and carve your neck. A neck is much more difficult than a body and why so many people buy necks and make bodies. It's also why the guitar logos get put on the headstock -- that's the bit with the most work to be proud of or infamous for.

    If you need to have 'nitro' then you will have a long wait time for the finish to cure to a state you can polish it -- weeks and weeks of waiting. That is likely most of the order to receipt time for custom builds. The factories use catalyzed polymer finishes because they can spray on and within a few hours assemble the guitar to box and ship -- with a finish that can survive all the test drives at a retailer's shop.

    .
     
  14. boredguy6060

    boredguy6060 Friend of Leo's

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    If I were looking to buy or order a guitar from a custom builder, I’d really like to get one from Gil Yaron.
    When I was laid up in the hospital several years ago, I’d pass the time reading his epic threads building a 59 Les Paul
    Or a 335, or a Tele or Strat. I found those threads fascinating.
    Gil is such a great builder and a nice guy as well, it sure made my stay a lot more palatable.
    Not to over look Ron Kirn, he builds some great guitars as well, and I’ve recommended him to several people in the past.
     
  15. Mase

    Mase Tele-Meister

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    it was
    Playable in the end, but a lot thinner than i like as i carved extra off to cover mistakes, still had cosmetic problems.
    I got a fair bit of help from the Home Depot forum here.
     
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  16. Ironwolf

    Ironwolf Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    The last three I built, I was able to cut and shape the bodies, cut and carve the necks (and add fret board on the two that needed it) in two weekends and a few after work hours. Fretting the necks took a couple of hours more for each. The finishing process took about three months total per guitar. Fret leveling and dressing took a couple of hours for each. Final assembly including electronics and setup took around 3 to four hours for each.
     
  17. WetBandit

    WetBandit Friend of Leo's

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    For Fender custom shop... CNC machines are pretty darn fast, and accurate.

    So probably a few days at max... even less if they have (and I suspect they do) a kiln/dehumidifier/oven for curing lacquer quickly.


    As for myself I have done it in as little as a month and as long as 4yrs (intermittently of course)

    But start to finish it has took me about 2-3 months at a comfortable pace.
     
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