Building an electric guitar


Razbo
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Razbo
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12/27/2009 2:40 pm
It's starting to look like something! :)

Re: image 10: I have a minor gap on mine from slightly mismatched corner radius between neck & pocket. I intend to fill with epoxy. ...Someday. :)

If you haven't, try this site for tons of building info...
http://projectguitar.ibforums.com/
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 1
GuitardedGeezer
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GuitardedGeezer
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12/27/2009 10:34 pm
Thanks for that link. Lots of good info.

Next picture shows how I have marked out the face for routing and drilling.
The humbucker outlines are obvious, the line under that is the mark for the bridge, a tun-o-matic style and the marks for the holes to drill. Under that is a chevron to mark where the ferrules are going for the thru-the-body string holes. I've drawn three circles to mark the volume and tone knobs, but I'm thinking I may go down to two. Right under those knobs will be the input jack, on the side (or bottom as held) with a strat style plate.

GG
# 2
GuitardedGeezer
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GuitardedGeezer
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12/31/2009 1:43 am
Advice needed!

I'm currently looking at the electronics I will need to order to finish up my project and I'm getting a bit overwhelmed since I know very little about electricity. I can jump start a car but that's about it. I've been looking at all the pots and knobs and such on allparts.com. I don't know what linear or CTS pots means, or is a mini pot good or not, let alone if it is what I want or if it is or is not compatable with the other parts. SO--- I'll list my intentions, and hopefully someone will tell me EXACTLY what pots, knobs, switches and wire etc I will need to buy so that it will all work.

I have already a strat style 1/4 input jack and two Chrome Screamer humbuckers made by Dragonfire guitar parts.

What I want to do is a 3 way switch, a volume knob, and one or two tone knobs. I don't really have room for 4 knobs like an LP. The cavity for the controls is routed from the back of the body. The body is 1 7/8 inches thick. 500k pots have been recommended. I know I need at least one capacitor but I have no idea of the size. There are tons of wiring diagrams online, so many in fact that I don't know which one will work for me. I'm just not electronics literate enough to tell what spec is important and what isn't, what is compatible with what, etc etc. The humbuckers have chrome covers, and the bezels for them will be black, so I'd like chrome knobs, or ideally a chrome knob with a black dome or something.

So, I need to know
1. what 3 way switch to buy (specific)
2. what pots and how many to get (again, specifics)
3. what knobs will fit on those pots
4. what capacitor and how many
5. a link to the wiring diagram I should use
6. type/guage wire to use
7 and lastly, is the mounting hardware and bezels for humbuckers of a universal size or do I need to find something specific for the 'buckers I've got?


I know it's alot to ask, but I'm hoping someone out there can steer me in the right direction with the knowledge and experience they already have. For me, it's becoming obvious it will take a few weeks of study and much reading to get enough functional knowledge on my own to make the correct decisions.

Thanks and gratitude in advance.

GG
# 3
Razbo
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Razbo
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12/31/2009 1:05 pm
Originally Posted by: GuitardedGeezerAdvice needed!
So, I need to know
1. what 3 way switch to buy (specific)
2. what pots and how many to get (again, specifics)
3. what knobs will fit on those pots
4. what capacitor and how many
5. a link to the wiring diagram I should use
6. type/guage wire to use

For me, it's becoming obvious it will take a few weeks of study and much reading to get enough functional knowledge on my own to make the correct decisions.
[/quote]

In this case, you might be advised to simply purchase a wiring kit from StewMac. It would include the correct type of everything you need, such as this one:
http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Electronics,_pickups/Supplies:_Wiring_kits/Wiring_Kit,_2-pickup_with_Toggle_Switch.html

[QUOTE=GuitardedGeezer]
7 and lastly, is the mounting hardware and bezels for humbuckers of a universal size or do I need to find something specific for the 'buckers I've got?


If bezel means pick up ring, then the fit should be pretty universal, with or without covers.
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 4
GuitardedGeezer
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GuitardedGeezer
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01/01/2010 3:07 am
Thanks Razbo. That link gave me a list of everything in the kit, so I used that as the specifications and got the same stuff, I just changed the pots to the longest threaded ones I could find. I appreciate your help.

GG
# 5
GuitardedGeezer
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GuitardedGeezer
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01/14/2010 10:51 pm
Okay, started on drilling holes and made a mistake. My little hand held Black & Decker with the built in fisheye levels just wasn't accurate enough to drill the six string holes. The holes are arranged in a V shape at the bottom of the pic, and they were not evenly spaced when they came out of the back of the body. So, I filled them in with sawdust and glue, then went to a friend's house and used his proper drill press. The pic shows the results so far. The six string holes are now perfectly symetrical on both sides of the body, and I went ahead and drilled out the two holes to mount the bridge onto, as well as holes for the switch and two pots clear through the body. Now that I have those all the way through, I've drawn the control cavity around them on the back. I'll route that out this weekend along with the humbucker cavities. I also drilled a couple of starter holes in the middle of the humbucker spots so I can get the router started easier. The further along I get the more excited I get. It all seems to be coming together really well, and my mistakes have been fairly easy to fix. I'll post more later.

GG
# 6
Razbo
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Razbo
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01/15/2010 2:15 am
Getting close! How were you planning to finish it?
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 7
GuitardedGeezer
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GuitardedGeezer
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01/16/2010 10:14 pm
A few more pics for you. Pic 15 shows the humbucker cavities routed out with one set in to check for size. Then I flipped it over and routed out the control cavity out of the back (pic 16). Around the edge is a lip to set the cover into (one that I have yet to make). The control cavity merged just a bit with the bridge humbucker cavity as planned so the wires can come through. I later drilled a small hole between the two just so the wires would lay better. Also on pic 16 you can see the string holes enlarged for the ferrules to set into. I did the same on the front for the much smaller ferrules that will go there. Pic 17 shows the extra long bit (12in) run through both humbucker cavities from the neck pocket so the neck humbucker will have a route for the wires to the back cavity. Now I have to figure out how to dig out the cavity for the 1/4in jack. The hole from that will punch into the control cavity at the opposite end from the other wires. I'm thinking a dremel tool will be the best way to go, then a large bit to get the rest of the way through.

Finishing plans: A couple coats of sanding sealer, then two or three coats of emerald green on the face. Next, two or three coats of black on the back and sides and wrap around a little for a burst effect. After that, 10 or 15 coats of lacquer. The headstock will be green and black also, and I'm trying to figure out a way to get a decal on top of the color coat, perhaps my name in white letters, before I put the lacquer coats on top of it. All the hardware is chrome or black.

GG
# 8
Razbo
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Razbo
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01/17/2010 1:57 pm
It always looks so easy when someone else is doing it...
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 9
GuitardedGeezer
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GuitardedGeezer
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01/24/2010 7:36 pm
Made some adjustments today. In pic 18 you can see the 'before' shot. The fretboard is just a bit too high. Also, the body portion that the neck connects to is much too thick and bulky, without alot of screw getting through to the neck. So pic 19 shows how I put to pieces of stock on either side to support the router, and then shaved off 1/16th of an inch, making the pocket that much deeper (the new fit is show in pic 20). After that, I still had some room to get the screws to bite deeper as well making the neck's higher frets a bit more accessable. Taking a cue from what I had just done, I flipped the body over, used the stock as supports again, and cut out 1/4 inch using the router. (See pic 21). The lip left over after the routing was sanded down to a smooth curve with a belt sander.

Pic 22 shows the three way switch hole at the top, the bridge humbucker cavity on the left, and one of the bridge holes near center. I angled a drill and made a hole from the bridge hole to the main control cavity in the back. Now I can install a grounding wire when I install the bridge insert.

The last pic, #23, shows the body hanging in my shop. A piece of stock is attached to the body in place of the neck so I can hold on to it while spraying and to give me a place to attach a hook so I can hang it up. I will probably spray everything outside, but now I can hang it inside for drying.

I think I've taken care of everything I need to do before finishing. I'm pretty sure no more holes or routing need done, and I've test fit everthing. Next step is to mask off some of the holes (like the bridge insert holes) so I don't build up a layer of paint in there. Then on to the sealer.

And good news! I got laid off from my job so I will have PLENTY of time to work on the finish! Sometimes good things just happen to good people.....

GG
# 10
GuitardedGeezer
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GuitardedGeezer
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01/24/2010 7:37 pm
The last pic (since you can only upload 5 at a time).

GG
# 11
GuitardedGeezer
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GuitardedGeezer
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01/28/2010 10:32 pm
Next Update.

Hung up and being painted. Used an acrylic lacquer sanding sealer first, three coats, then laying on the green color coat. (pic 24)

Pic 25 shows my attempt at a 'burst' effect. It's harder than you think, I had to redo it twice because of overspraying the black on the green face. 4 color coats in all. There are some grain lines showing through. Not sure if it was insufficient sanding to prepare or if the sanding sealer is no good or applied incorrectly. Decided to continue anyway. I'll do an overhaul with a repaint later if the guitar works.

Pic 26 shows the peg head. It looks pretty good and the finish is okay too so I'm thinking it was bad sanding prep on the body.

GG
# 12
GuitardedGeezer
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GuitardedGeezer
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01/29/2010 3:19 pm
Just purchased and applied a custom made decal for the headstock. Not too shabby...

Decal is made of 2 mil vinyl with the chrome metallic coating. It comes on a backing paper and they put a piece of masking tape over the face of it. I placed it on the headstock in the right position, taped the thing on top like a hinge to hold it. Then fold it upward, remove the backing paper, then fold it back down into the very same place just like a door hinge. Rub a little bit to make the decal stick to the headstock, then carefully peel away the hinge and masking tape. Looks good...

GG
# 13
GuitardedGeezer
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GuitardedGeezer
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02/01/2010 5:43 pm
Looks like a guitar now!

Pic 28 is installing the neck humbucker. You can see where the wire comes out of the hole previously shown into the bridge humbucker cavity (then down to the control cavity).

Pic 29 is all the hardware installed. Looks like a guitar now. Full length view is Pic 30.

My soldering iron sucks. It's only 25 watts. Everyone recommends a 40 watt. We'll see if I can make do with it. Pic 31 is a pic of the control cavity before soldering anything.

Pic 32 shows the diagram I'm using if anyone is interested.

GG
# 14
GuitardedGeezer
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GuitardedGeezer
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02/02/2010 11:26 pm
IT'S ALIVE!!!

My best Frankenstein imitation...

So, my first guitar build is complete! And I'm so glad I learned as much as I did.

Pic 33 shows the control cavity all wired up. I haven't made a cover for it yet, but I intend on making a paper stencil of the cavity, then cutting out the cover from the flat side of a rubber wastepaper basket. 4 screws should hold it just fine.

I've also made a few mistakes, and learned from them. I'll also be going back to fix them.

Pic 34 shows the completed guitar. Is it playable? best I can tell is yes it will be. The action is good, about like my Squier strat. I do however have a grounding problem, or a shielding problem. There is a humming noise when I turn on the overdrive pedal. It gets worse when I touch the strings so I think it's the ground.

Lessons learned....

1. Hand held power tools will work. It's best to use jigs whenever possible, and a proper drill press is indespensable.

2. Do your sanding correctly the first time. I HATE sanding, so I probably rushed it and said "good enough" when it wasn't. Also, I used a cheap sanding sealer. Now I have a visible grain texture in my paint. Gonna have to redo the finish. Would have been cheaper and easier to use better materials and spend the time to do it right the first time. Perhaps I can hire out the sanding....hehe.

3. Acrylic lacquer just isn't up to the task. Just assembling the guitar I dinged and gouged the finish several times. It's just not good enough. Next time I will use nitrocelulose or polyurathane. Long curing time, but will be worth it. Also, a cloth won't protect the finish, it's not enough even against a rubber mallet and such. I took my steel drill guage (basically a steel plate) and wrapped it in cloth, then laid it on the guitar to protect the finish, that worked much better than just the cloth.

4. A 25 watt soldering iron isn't hot enough for good solder connections. All the other recommendations I've heard is a 40 watt so I will try to find one this week.

5. Pre drilling your screw holes for every single screw is just as important as the screws themselves. My 1/16th bit broke during the build, so the last few holes I drilled with a broken bit. I drilled only about 1/4 inch deep because drilling with a broken bit is difficult. I figured the 1/4 inch would be enough, and the screw would auger itself in the rest of the way. That works about 40% of the time, three screws, including both on the jack plate, twisted their heads off and left the screw body inside the wood. This is gonna be fun to fix. Good thing I'm refinishing the guitar anyway.....

6. Wiring diagrams are more intimidating than they should be. If you can solder, you can do a good wire up.

Even with all the things that need fixing, I consider my first guitar build a success. It will play, it will tune, it feels good. Fixing the finish and screw problems, plus tracing down the grounding noise is just a learning experience, and that's what I built this guitar for in the first place.

Thanks to everyone for their advice, links, and encouragement. I already have ideas for a tele and a destroyer. First I'm gonna fix this one.

GG
# 15
Razbo
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02/02/2010 11:43 pm
Looks good, GG! It's a pretty awesome feeling at the end, isn't it?

Nice touch with the decal. I got some waterslide paper to make my own but haven't gotten around to it yet. A headstock certainly looks bare without one of some kind.
...so ever since then, I always hang on to the buckle.
# 16
GuitardedGeezer
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GuitardedGeezer
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02/04/2010 12:14 am
It IS awesome! Even more so now that I found my 'grounding' problem.
If you have an okay sound on clean channels, and a nasty humming on overdrive, and that gets louder when you touch the strings, then check your jack. I had the wires reversed. Switched them to the correct positions and now the hum is gone and the sound is great! I played the National Anthem on the bridge pickup with full overdrive and a bit of distortion on the pedal, and smiled all the way through it....now I'm really determined to polish it up and fix those finish and screw problems.

GG
# 17
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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02/04/2010 12:32 am
Originally Posted by: GuitardedGeezerIt IS awesome! Even more so now that I found my 'grounding' problem.

Congrats! This is a wonderful achievement. :)
Christopher Schlegel
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Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
# 18

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