7 Tips To Make Building Your Guitar Kit Go Real Smooth!
Guitar Kit Tips
If you’ve seen one of those impressive looking guitar kits on the net and thought about taking a crack at building one yourself than there are some things you should know first.
First off, if you are even minimally mechanically inclined than you can definitely build one of these guitar kits. (Trust us…we had our buddy Mark build one. He had never built one before and even he could do it.)
Really a lot of the hard stuff is already done for you and you get to do the fun stuff like applying the finish and putting the guitar together.
Now that’s not to say that there are not some tips and tricks that, if you know ahead of time, will make your build go a whole lot smoother. In light of that, we’ve put together 7 tips we think would be helpful for anyone attempting to build one of these guitar kits.
1. Pre-Assemble The Darn Thing
Most guys, the first inclination when they get their kit is to just jump right into applying that killer finish that they’ve been dreaming about where if you look at it one way you see a skull and if you look at it another way you see a naked lady.
Yeah don’t act like you haven’t thought of that one!
Anyhoo before you start dusting off your airbrush kit and pinstripe brushes take time to pre-assemble everything in the kit. YES we mean everything!
Okay you don’t have to do all the wiring and string the guitar but pretty much everything up to that.
For one it is good to see how everything fits. For instance check how the tuners fit. This will let you know ahead of time if you need to do any sanding to make sure they fit properly. This will also let you know, if for instance, you screw up the finish on your headstock and you want to sand down the finish to start again, how much material you can take off.
If you sand off too much material you won’t be able to get your tuning pegs tight in the headstock!
Don’t ask us how we know this!
2. Take Your Time Fitting That Neck Just How You Like It
If you have never assembled a guitar kit before you will find that right out of the box the body and
neck fit really well. That doesn’t mean that they are perfect!
You may need to use shims to get the neck where you want it or do some sanding to get it in the right position. This is a heckuva lot easier to do before you have applied finish to the guitar.
Make sure the neck sits straight, level or howit needs to be in the body depending on your guitar and then clamp it to the body using c-clamps. If you have a bolt on neck now is the time to drill pilot holes in the back of the neck for the bolts that will hold the body and neck together.
3. Drill Pilot Holes
This would include pickups or pickup rings if your kit has those, the covers on the back of the guitar to cover the electronics, the pegs used for attaching the guitar strap, truss rod cover and so-on.
It’s not a huge deal if you forget to do this but it just feels wrong to be drilling into that nice new finish you applied to your guitar. Besides there is that old saying about measuring twice and drilling once… or is it cutting once? We forget which one it is but they both apply!
If by accident you screw up drilling a hole in the wrong spot it is easier to fill it and hide it when there is no finish on the guitar so there’s another reason.
4. At Least Practice A Little Applying Finish
You may want to consider practicing a little on another piece of wood just to see how the stain goes on and how it acts once it gets on wood before you take the plunge with your guitar.
This will give you a ball park idea of how many coats you will need to get the desired effect you are looking for or how to apply the stain to get a sunburst effect if that is what you want or how to get that skull and naked lady thing happening!
If you figure out how to do that let us know. Asking for a friend!
5. Yes Wiring Can Be Tedious
Find a good wiring diagram online for whatever pickup and volume and tone configuration you have. If you have never wired a guitar before it may even be a good idea to lay all the wiring and electronics out how they are supposed go before installing them in the guitar just to get a good visual of how everything needs to be soldered together.
This makes it so much easier if you already have a visual in your head of how it is supposed to go.
You will feel like you need three hands when you are wiring your guitar. Just stick with it and take your time. It is handy to have good lighting where you are doing your wiring and it does make it easier if you do have someone that can lend a hand to hold a wire for you while you perform the surgery!
6. Don’t Forget To Attach The Ground Wire To The Bridge Post
This will throw you into fits of rage and cursing if you forget to do this. Again, don’t ask us how we know!
If you have a fixed bridge the posts are press fit in and freaking hard to get out once they are in there. So make sure you attach the ground wire to the post before you press fit the bridge post into its hole.
If you forget, there is a way to get the bridge post out but unless you have a tool you will have to make a run to the local hardware store to make your own tool to pull that post out so you can attach the ground.
Nobody wants to do that when they are sooo close to actually playing their guitar. Or maybe you like your guitar to have a high pitch buzz all the time.
7. Take Your Time
We’ve said it before but we will say it again measure twice and drill once or however it goes. Take your time getting things to fit right, getting your finish right and basically pre-planning and thinking about what you want to do and how you are going to do it and you will be way happier with the end product.
Besides building your own guitar from a kit is meant to be an enjoyable project and learning experience. Consider it something to get you away from your computer so no need to rush through the build.
You’ll make less mistakes if you take your time.