XGP Hardtail Strat

Discussion in 'Tele Home Depot' started by DesmoDog, Mar 27, 2015.

  1. DesmoDog

    DesmoDog Tele-Afflicted

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    I've been jonesing after a hardtail Strat for years. I've come close to pulling the trigger on a Robert Cray edition, or maybe a Warmoth body, but kept putting it off. Then I found out GFS was going to start selling hardtail Strat bodies as part of their "XGP" line. I ordered one the first day they were available.

    The XGP is their "premium" line of guitar parts. I ordered a neck and some other stuff too so I could put it together in a day.

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    The finish on the neck is a bit thicker than I expected. The neck/body fit is actually a little too tight for my liking. Nothing too hard to address, better than too loose I suppose.

    The finish body looks ok, bit not great. There are some imperfections that are hard to see and photograph, but they're there.

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    If you look at the reflection of the light you can see some dings. I'm pretty sure they were there when it was painted? The body is supposed to be poplar, I don't think poplar dents all that easily and the finish isn't damaged. That said: I watched a review of another XGP body on youtube. The guy pointed out that on his (earlier) body the ad says poplar, but the box it came in said basswood. I just went and checked the box mine came in. The part of the label that said basswood on his box has been removed on mine, you can see where it was cut out. Hmm...

    The string ferrule holes aren't set up to recess the ferrules. I started to set up to recess them but decided it would be too easy to chip the finish and I decided to just go with them not being flush.

    After marking the neck for the screw holes I noticed the holes weren't centered in the neck pocket. They're not far enough off to bother fixing, but still. I would have thought these were CNC'd, if so the fixtures must suck.

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    Before drilling the holes for the screws in the neck I thought I'd check to be sure the neck was aligned properly. The string through holes dictate the position of the bridge. I put a straight edge on the sides of the neck heel and marked near the holes for the strings.

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    Oh come on. then I ran a line from the string slot in the nut to the center of the through hole in the body, and marked that at the last fret.

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    I spent some time correcting the neck alignment but decided I had better things to do today. I'll get this thing to work but it's going to take more time than I had planned on.

    Here's how the treble side of the neck pocket looks after some alignment correcting have been done.

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    That picture exaggerates how far off it is, and to be fair, I just checked the Strat I built from Warmoth parts and it has a slight ledge there too. As does my Fender made Telecaster. A little black paint and it'll be good to go.

    SO… my initial impressions are, you still get what you pay for. It's looking like this will turn out to be yet another "Yeah, but for the money it's ok" guitar.

    I'm going to end up buying more Warmoth parts. I really need to accept that and just spend the money...
     
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  2. telemaster7082

    telemaster7082 Tele-Afflicted

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    How is the actual neck? Quality ? Finish? Frets are done? I was thinking of buying one, possibly, but I have been hit and miss with GFS.
     
  3. Manolete

    Manolete Friend of Leo's

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    Very interesting thread. I'm looking at getting a hardtail Strat body to stick a much loved Telecaster neck onto. I need something rock solid and well finished. Looks like the GFS bodies don't tick as many boxes as I had hoped.

    At the end of the day, the GFS bodies are ~ £50 if I recall, and shipping to the UK is about £45. I then get stung with 20% VAT and other fees, so I'm slowly getting put off the idea...
     
  4. trev333

    trev333 Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Holey moley...:lol:

    my '83 US H/tail.... unholey moley...:twisted:
     

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  5. DesmoDog

    DesmoDog Tele-Afflicted

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    Lovely... me want. Send now. Over. :D
     
  6. DesmoDog

    DesmoDog Tele-Afflicted

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    Sorry, I got distracted by the pictures.

    The neck. Initial impressions are it's a very shiny, very smooth, seemingly thick finish but when I scraped some off the heel it didn't seem overly applied so that may just be me. I wanted to order a satin finish neck but they were out of stock so I went with this. The fret ends are pretty smooth, about on par with production guitars in the sub-1000 price range? I haven't checked how level the frets are yet. More info on that as I go along.

    EDIT: And now it occurs to me I'm taking it on faith that the string through holes are in the right spot... time to toss a pickguard on there and see how the strings line up to the pickup poles before I get too nuts about changing the neck alignment. I may need to tweak the holes a bit too/instead.
     
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  7. DesmoDog

    DesmoDog Tele-Afflicted

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    I checked the string holes. I guessed at the center of the holes and then measured in from each side. Rough measurements but it looks close enough for who it's for, I can fudge that easily enough.

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    Note where the tape is relative to the holes in that picture. We'll come back to that.

    Next up, taking the pickguard from another project and putting it on here to check out pickup locations. While I was removing that I got to thinking and… Nope. The XGP body has no provision for grounding the bridge.

    I laid the pickguard in place, then set the bridge plate on it figure out where the strings would run in relation to the neck and pickups. Look where the blue tape is relative to the holes in the bridge plate. Everything is slid forward as far as possible in this pic. Well, Ok I can jam it forward a little more but not enough to bring the holes into alignment. FWIW very part shown in this pic is from GFS, though the pickguard is a few years old.

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    Now I get to figure out where the issue is. Holes in wrong place? Pickguard too big? Bridge plate larger than normal? This is the bridge that is referenced in the ad for the body so it should be right.

    Hey, I have a generic hardtail bridge from GFS. And sure enough, the bridge plate is narrower from front to rear. It's a toploader, push comes to shove I could put that on there and forget about the string though holes?

    Or not.

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    I'm still waiting to find the "premium" part of this body...
     
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  8. guitarbuilder

    guitarbuilder Telefied Ad Free Member

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    The premium part is that the routs were made with a router. :)
     
  9. DesmoDog

    DesmoDog Tele-Afflicted

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    That may well be… :rolleyes:



    I have a Telecaster that uses the Fender version of this bridge. After a lot of measuring of that guitar and another Strat, plus getting a drawing of the Fender bridge off of Warmoth's site, I think the issue with the string through holes not lining up comes down to the GFS bridge is about 3mm longer front to rear than the Fender part, and the 3mm is all in front of the string through holes. Put a Fender bridge on and I think everything would fit with the pick guard on.

    I also measured the spacing from the bridge to the saddles on a few guitars. After all of that, I think the holes are in the right spot on the body? It's hard to measure an assembled guitar (Tele and Strat) so as near as I can tell, everything is within about 1mm of where I'd expect.

    I tweaked the angle of the neck a little more and got it where I wanted. Here's how the sides of the neck fall on the string through holes now - this was marked with the neck screwed into place.

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    I also laid out the positions of the two E strings on the neck with the bridge in place and they look good. I couldn't hold everything in place and take a picture so you'll just have to trust me on that one. The bridge and/or string through holes need a little more work so the bridge can be put in the right position for intonation (we're talking a couple millimeters here) but I think I'm done for the day.

    How the holes can be in the right spot on the body, but the bridge is outside the range of adjustment for intonation is beyond me. The saddles are the same dimensions as Fender's… I haven't measured the neck yet, I suppose the nut could be a couple mm's off relative to the neck heel as compared to a Fender? I'll figure it out later. I've got a headache and the dogs are feeling neglected.

    EDIT: The big question is… is everyone who tries to put one of these together going to have the same issues? They've only been for sale for a week so I haven't seen any other feedback yet. I'll be interested to see if anyone else runs into this stuff or am I just special? :cool:
     
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  10. Loudog99

    Loudog99 Tele-Holic

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    I had similar issues with my tele XGP body. String through holes were awful and i had to resort to doing topload only. Turned out to be a solid axe, but body was nowhere near perfect.
     
  11. DesmoDog

    DesmoDog Tele-Afflicted

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    More progress today. By my count I'm three days into this afternoon project.

    The first thing I did was drill a hole for the ground wire. I had thoughts of making up a little angle jig to make sure it didn't go haywire but then figured what the heck, it's only a GFS body. I put a 2mm bit into the hand held drill and pulled the trigger.

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    I located the bridge with just the center hole. Soon realized I had it wrong, so I filled that hole and drilled the outer two in the correct position. Then I got out my handy needle files and "optimized" the string through holes.

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    With bridge more or less in position
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    Time to screw on the bridge! No, wait, I should press the string ferrules in first.

    Uh, Houston, we have a problem…
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    Seriously? This is where I just shook my head and started laughing. Fine. Quick fix. Could have done it prettier but why bother.

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    BTW- those two lines coming from the one ferrule are where the finish cracked when I punched it back out. I was going to break the edge on the finish around the holes before I shoved the ferrules in but forgot/didn't bother. Oops. Anyway, the smudges are a Sharpie. I'll polish most of it off again later. The other junk is sawdust. This black body is a pain to keep clean and honestly I'm not making a huge effort to protect it at this point. If I ding it I'll do my first "relic" finish.

    But in the end, the bridge is on.

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    I remembered to put the ground wire in, and I have hopes of getting it together tomorrow. Then probably another week doing set up when I find out the neck needs to be shimmed and nut replaced frets leveled and five other things I haven't thought of!

    So, what have we learned so far? Simple.

    THIS is a premium body
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    This is NOT a premium body
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    The next time I want to buy/assemble a cheap guitar I'll throw the money into a guitar case instead. Then when I want to buy a cheap guitar again, I'll open the case, take that money and add it to what I was going to spend on the next guitar, and order a Warmoth body. Repeat as needed until new guitar is done with nice parts…

    Seriously though, I bought this in part to see how nice a premium GFS body is, and now I know. I'm sure it will be very playable when it's done, it's just requiring a lot more work than it should. All part of the learning curve.
     
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  12. Cat MacKinnon

    Cat MacKinnon Friend of Leo's

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    Hey, it wouldn't be a GuitarFetish body if the holes were drilled in the right place.:lol:
     
  13. telemaster7082

    telemaster7082 Tele-Afflicted

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    I find this type of thing annoying, and humorous at the same time. Advertised as "premium bodies at such a low cost blah blah blah". But look at the amount of work needed to just correct the factory mistakes. Would have been better off paying double and not having to do anything, imo.

    From a learning standpoint I suppose it is OK, but the point is how the product is marketed and advertised, yet is nowhere near that in reality.

    I purchased a body from a fellow member, who had done everything himself. For $120, i had an unfinished Tele body made of pine. Everything was in the right place! Imagine that.
     
  14. DesmoDog

    DesmoDog Tele-Afflicted

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    Exactly.

    I have mixed thoughts on this. I'm a fan of GFS - I use GFS pickups, tuners, and other parts all the time and like them. I REALLY wanted this to be a decent body and for the price was willing to overlook a lot. For instance the finish. I noticed the ripples/dings/whatever you want to call them right away but they were small enough I could deal with it. Brilliant finishes are expensive and don't make the guitar work any better.

    But the rest of it just makes no sense to me. By that I mean, how can they miss on things like hole spacing? I get that a one off build in a guy's basement might miss. But mass production? One template done right would determine the spacing and the location with respect to the neck pocket. You could put the bridge mounting holes in there too while you're at it. One simple gauge would check for it once the body was done. Hole spacing? Seriously?

    I come from a development engineering background (autmotive exhaust systems) and have spent a lot of time reviewing manufacturing processes and going to manufacturing plants making sure things like this can not happen. I can not picture how these are made where these sort of mistakes can make it out of the production facility. BASIC things have to be missing from the process. In an afternoon I could come up with a template that anyone with a hand held drill could use to get hole spacing right. And then a gauge to check afterwards. Same gauge could check the neck pocket and the relation between the two. These could both be designed in a day and built cheap, to tolerances that would easily eliminate this sort of stuff.

    But now I'm ranting and it's not worth it. Time to head downstairs and try to "finish" this thing. It needs to be done, I never planned on blowing my entire four day weekend on it.

    I like GFS, for some things. Bodies aren't on that list.
     
  15. DesmoDog

    DesmoDog Tele-Afflicted

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    I put the tuners on. I knew I'd have to ream the holes to make them work with the tuners I wanted to use, says so right in the ad. No worries there. Shockingly, the holes aren't exactly where they should be. Note the e and B tuners. Yes, I realize locking tuners on a hardtail is silly. They're what I had around. If I bond with this I'll probably change them to something else but for now a lot of these parts are taken from other guitars or my spare parts bin. FWIW I'm into this (not including parts I already had) for about $180.

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    They'll work, they just aren't CNC precise. This picture isn't great but it shows trying to line them up with each other. I ended up eyeballing it.
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    From there it was typical assembly. At this point it's pretty much done except for set up. I haven't so much as tuned it to pitch yet so there will be more to come but here it is:

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    I haven't even plugged it in yet and I already think that this will not be my last hardtail Strat, nor will it be my last black Strat...
     
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  16. telemaster7082

    telemaster7082 Tele-Afflicted

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    Looks good, but man what a PITA!

    Something I meant to ad earlier on my rant, was if the XGP stuff is their "premium" line, they must be selling tree branches for the "luthier special" line and discount parts.
     
  17. Manolete

    Manolete Friend of Leo's

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    Cool looking guitar!

    From GFS's own page;

    Correct vintage HARDTAIL Strat- Cut from hand selected clear white poplar... dense and toneful with MAJOR sustain. We rout each body to exact 1963 Stratocaster body specs... using MY OWN 1963 Daphne Blue Strat as the template. Each body is hand-sanded, hand painted, hand polished to a perfect finish. This is a level of quality that YOU HAVE NOT SEEN at anything near this price

    Smells a bit suspect now!
     
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  18. strateles

    strateles Tele-Holic

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    nice work!

    I too have been looking at these bodies, think Ill look somewhere else now.

    THANKS!
     
  19. OpenG Capo4

    OpenG Capo4 Friend of Leo's

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    I've had a lot of similar experiences on a partscaster I'm putting together for a friend. Routes and pockets not lining up, ferrule holes being skewed, etc etc.

    And I had the same thing happen with the tuners on a GFS neck from their regular line. The holes were so misaligned one couldn't have fit Klusons on it.

    If GFS were capable of doing stuff right to start with they wouldn't need an 'XGP" line. Their product descriptions are so exaggerated its hard to know what you're getting.
     
  20. poolshark

    poolshark Tele-Holic

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    Congrats on finishing up, but that's a shame about the quality. Their old line of bodies was riddled with problems, but if you bought raw, it was fairly easy and economical to fix before paint. I assumed their new XGP line would be from a different factory, since they ditched paulownia, but it looks like they're dealing with the exact same quality control issues.
     
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