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mettelus

StewMac Sale on Guitar kits

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For those guitarists here that like to tinker, it is worth signing up to StewMac newsletter. I had looked at acoustic kits a long time ago, and they are a bit more complex and pricey; but they sent out a sale newsletter Monday (4/5) and I never really looked at their electric kits, which are pretty impressive. Please note that some of these kits will NOT ship outside of the US, as the only thing they are missing is the logo! The electronic kits are more pre-fab, so is really the assembly/finishing of them. Finishing kits are also 50% off and embedded into some of the kit options, but I wanted to point this out for folks. Example: an "LP-Style" flame top with no finishing kit is $209.99, with a Cherry Sunburst finishing kit is $274.71 (and comes with the stock pickups), which is pretty cheap in comparison to many other options out there (and the necks are already done to boot). The neck being done is actually a HUGE deal, since other options that are less expensive usually have crappy fretwork on them. They have most styles on sale, including acoustics.

Edited by mettelus
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Have often thought of doing a kit over the years. With a quality neck (frets in and finished) it is a very desirable guitar. I bought one from a guy already made with a Performance neck, Floyd Rose Trem, Seymour Duncan and Dimarzio pickups, and had his friend that worked in a body shop paint it with metal flake car paint, (pin stripes and all!!). Great looking and playing guitar. I played it on stage for years and I would work that trem hard!! Looking back on it now I don't know how I didn't break the arm off the tremelo!! 

Neck never got loose, stayed in tune like you wouldn't believe. So a kit guitar, done right, is a keeper. I still have that guitar!

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On each of their guitars there is an Assembly Instructions pdf, so I read the LP one and noticed the "Tools and Supplies" list up front with it. The neck is not totally finished, as it has not been set nor the truss rod adjusted. The assembly notes some sanding, nut slotting, and crown work. Some of the "proprietary tools" they sell are a bit on the steep side (nut slotting files stuck out immediately for me), which have either a cheaper alternative, or straight-up workaround. The ones that came to mind:

  1. Feeler gauge (not mentioned in the Tools and Supplies" but is in the instructions) can be bought at an automotive store for around $5 (used for gapping spark plugs).
  2. Fretting hammer - can do the same with a claw hammer and small block of wood. Wood on the fret, lightly tap with the hammer. I would also do this before setting the neck, since is easy to rest on something soft but firm (like my legs).
  3. Fret Crowning File - theirs is simply a triangular file with the corners ground off, so can modify one yourself.
  4. No-chip Countersink (for chamferring bushing holes) - a small strip of 150 grit sandpaper wrapped over the tip of your pinky will do the same thing, just do not ride up on the finish.
  5. Nut slotting files - It appears the nut is already pre-slotted, but needs final adjustment. Oddly enough the tools only mention 3 files, but since the nut wears down fairly quickly, you can do the same with an old set of strings (same gauge you will use) and some rubbing compound (essentially a fine sandpaper in paste form - automotive shop again). Need to tape off both sides of the nut, but you can run and old string through it with compound like a very fine coping saw (be sure to angle so the high side is the fretboard... should slope downward slightly toward the pegs).

As far as finishes, their lacquer is pretty competitive, but they make a big deal about gloss finishes being a bear (and have a book on it). Tru Oil (used for gun stocks) is a very popular finish (form of linseed oil) that can be put on by hand and built up in numerous layers. Every couple layers it is good to 0000 steel wool slightly, and about 20 layers is what "looks like glass." It will darken the finish ever so slightly, but also has the advantage that to "re-polish" in the future means to simply add another coat or two. I slathered a couple coats with my bare hand on the top step of my basement stairs (redwood) 10 years ago and it hasn't needed to be touched since. I use it on guitars too, but don't walk on them ūüėĄ. Oddly enough, Tru Oil is the only thing I have EVER been forced to sign receipt for on delivery... I asked the delivery guy why and he said "gun paraphernalia"... I just chuckled and said "Whatever."

Another "finish" option, is to get a vinyl print made of any picture/graphic that suits your fancy. Any automotive place that does "car wraps" probably also has the printer for making the wraps. They would need the dimensions of the face so they can properly align/print the "wrap." These are opaque as you have seen on cars (won't see the wood), and go on/come off with a heat gun, but can make anything as intricate as you can imagine (and change your mind later). You will want some base finish under them so that they do not transfer any ink to the underlying wood. The longer they are on, the harder they are to take off... another reason for a finish under them, so if worse comes to worst, you can sand through the vinyl and never touch the wood beneath it.

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Hmmm, reading reviews from the lowest rating first, the thickness of that veneer was stated as 1mm, which is incredibly thin. It is not a cap, and already bound, so the warnings about not sanding the veneer makes sense now. Some of those reviews are actually concerning.

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To me this is like being able to do your own oil changes but prefer to have someone else do it. Squires ad Epiphones are quality.  I guess just buy those and change out the electronics.

 

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8 hours ago, Paul Young said:

Squires ad Epiphones are quality.  I guess just buy those and change out the electronics.

Actually, I went to a GC one day just to browse and came across a very pretty white Squire Strat with a maple neck. I played it through a Boogie Mini Recto head with a 1x12 cab with Celestion in it. Anyway, the GC salesman was trying to sell me the amp and cab, but I was so impressed with the Squire that I told him leave me alone, I may not buy the amp and cab, but I ain't leaving without the guitar!

I ended up getting them all! 

When I got the guitar home I did what I normally do, put my strings on it and give it a good clean up. When I took the pickguard off, I was totally blown away that it had conductive shielding paint all on the inside!! Then I noticed that the pickups were Seymour Duncan single coil sized humbers!! I also noticed that the tremolo was a knock off of a Floyd Rose floating trem!! The pickguard was 5 layers, in a type of MOP swirl, definitely not the standard issue on a Squire. Then I got to looking at the paint, this was not a regular Fender white. More of a pearl color.  I am even thinking they did some kind of fret work on it also because it is just so smooth!!

So I concluded that somebody bought a Squire, fixed it up, then sold it to GC for whatever reason. Some salesman over there saw a Squire label on the headstock and placed a $200 price tag on it!! This thing plays like a dream!! Sounds fantastic!! It will never leave my possession I can tell you that!

 

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