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Dub-T-123

Looking to build my first guitar from scratch

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Probably mostly questions for Rabs here but if there are other luthiers I’d love to hear from you too. 
 

I am planning on building my first guitar from scratch and as you may know I have basically unlimited access to a fully stocked work shop. So all of my really expensive luxurious tool needs like large planer, bandsaw, spindle sander, etc are already taken care of. We even have CNCs but that’s not in my plans at this point. 
 

I’m trying to make a list of those luthiery-specific tools that I will want which we won’t already have in the shop. Mainly things related to fretting, templates, scrapers, radius blocks, jigs, things of that nature

I am looking to make as many of the jigs or tools myself where possible

My idea at this point is to make basically a traditional 50s style double cut Jr. Sorry to copy your vibe with the double cut thing Rabs that type of guitar just ticks off all the boxes for what I want to do here

 

I’ve got lots of mahogany, maple, walnut, alder, poplar, white oak, etc but no rosewood or ebony. I will want to buy some rosewood blanks not sure if I want to go pre slotted or slot them myself. I am attracted to the challenge of slotting it myself but that would involve buying some tools which might be impractical to consider for the first build depending on cost
 

Well I feel like I could speculate and ramble forever but I’d like to hear a little advice from somebody who’s done it already

 

Any special tools that you find indispensable? Recommended books or resources? 
 

thanks in advance. I’m really excited to get going

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Cool..  And thats what I like to hear.. More builders  🙂 

No.. No worries from me what ever you want to do.. I can hardly take much credit for it can I?  🙂   Odd timing as I only just a short while ago asked if they minded any new build threads from me since  I havent really done one since I properly went in to business for myself (apart from our DIY thread 🙂 )..  And I may be going back to it very soon so you guys can see what I get up too.. (and yes Mr KS Daddy said its ok)..

Tools..  Well yes for all of the fret stuff...  I originally tried to do my own frets and wasted about £60 worth of rosewood blanks doing so.... I then went for pre-slotted which I still do today. I know you can buy jigs from StewMac and stuff but they are stupidly expensive and a pre-cut one is only a few pounds more so.. No brainer as long as I can continue to buy them like that. But you will need some files for fret ends and crowning.. They dont really have to be specialised but some of the ones built specifically for that purpose are really good.

I use this for my fret ends.. LOVE IT

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Guitar-Fret-End-Dressing-File-by-Uo-Chikyu-Hiroshima-21-0001/303691519312?hash=item46b56cd550:g:jZoAAOSwoc5c5GoE

And for my crowning file. I take a standard triangular file and round off the edges (so it doesnt dig into the fretboard). Works well..  Also yes a fret radius block helps and some radius gauges something like this

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Hellfire-Guitar-Radius-Gauges-Twin-Pack-7-25-9-5-10-12-14-15-16-20/224021661767?hash=item3428bb4847:g:pJ0AAOSwl0pc9nUZ

If you have a dremel they are good for inlays and stuff....

After that for me its all about good templates.. If your template is good the final product will be good (or at least it has a far better chance). I make them myself...

The next two builds I do will be double cuts.. One will be for me (finally) which is going to be possibly all black walnut or all black walnut with a fancy top. I cant quite decide..  And the other will be for a friend of mine who passed away over a year and a half ago now. I plan to present that to his family or sell it and give the money to charity in his name.. That will be a more standard mahogany/maple DC but chambered with one bridge pickup and a piezo.

Good luck man, I look forward to seeing your progress.. And of course always feel free to ask anything you want.

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19 minutes ago, Rabs said:

Cool..  And thats what I like to hear.. More builders  🙂 

No.. No worries from me what ever you want to do.. I can hardly take much credit for it can I? 

 

Heh Rab's; I would have tried one years ago, but Deb keeps drawing the line at not letting me cut the wood I need out of her dinning room table!  Just as well as I don't have any of the tools I need to build one yet. Lol

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I can't help on the building. To me they are kind of painted chunks of wood with bits stuck on and in them....but, the important thing is that it should be shaped in a way that a graphic artist could paint it to look like a cool cartoon cat (probably a fat male cat crouched facing forward). Maybe the neck could look like its tail sticking up? I don't know. I'm not a graphic artist. A graphic artist would know how to draw it.

Therefore, people who like bands but don't know about guitars would still know that Slash plays a roundy looking one, and Angus plays a pointy looking one, and in the same way that you, Dub , play the cat looking one. That's the thing. That is indeed cool [thumbup]

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I have not built a guitar. I do have (on hold) most of the parts for a partscaster though. Still burning off the poly finish on the body (its stubborn). I have done fret leveling though. I have 2 leveling beams. Long one from Crimson & short one from StewMac. A notched leveling straight edge. Fret Rocker. Various fret files, but the one I use most is Centred Z File Item # 5080. Expensive but so worth it.

https://www.stewmac.com/luthier-tools-and-supplies/tools-by-job/tools-for-fretting/shaping-and-crowning/stewmac-z-file-fret-crowning-files.html

Books: I consult Dan Erlewine's Guitar Player Repair Guide from time to time. I've always found exactly what I need in there. Though web searches can do most of that too.

I wish I had access to the sort of workshop you do. I would most certainly use the CNC machines for profile shaping, routing cavities etc. Good luck & please post some progress pics.

 

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I have bought bodies and necks and all the hardware and put a guitar together, but from a chunk of wood to a guitar...Nope. I barley know where to put my fingers for an open A chord.

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Thanks guys! I want to reply more specifically but I’m at work right now. But this morning I stopped by the shop and claimed a giant piece of hog. Looks like African hog but will be very nice for a first try

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I Built my Explorer from a kit, the scariest part was glueing the set neck in place. There was a lot of sanding and sanding and sanding and sealing and sanding, then a few coats of finish and a lot more sanding and more finish and etc.. Bottom line is there was a lot of sanding and some point you stop sanding and apply the final finish... 🙂

Edited by mihcmac

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2 hours ago, mihcmac said:

I Built my Explorer from a kit, the scariest part was glueing the set neck in place. There was a lot of sanding and sanding and sanding and sealing and sanding, then a few coats of finish and a lot more sanding and more finish and etc.. Bottom line is there was a lot of sanding and some point you stop sanding and apply the final finish... 🙂

I can get enough of the sanding.

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I’ve got awesome tools for sanding. I am adept in the ways of abrasion 😛

 

So I actually do already have all of the files needed for fret and nut setup work. Gotta get a radius beam and I’d like to get a nice little deadblow for fretting. I have all kinds of routers and bits and dremels but may get a router base for the dremel. At this stage I’m not a big fan of the dremel but maybe it will change my mind with a router base and decent bit? I’m inclined to think that anything a dremel with router base would work for, my little Makita router would be better. But it has a 1/4” collet so I dunno I’d have to look for what bits I can get first. 
 

I am just doing dot inlays and probably a decal on this so won’t need to worry about that anyways

 

The piece of mahogany I found at the shop today could probably make 6 or 7 one piece bodies 

 

Merciful I am very interested in the CNC as well but I’d like to do first learn how to do it the old fashioned way. 

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7 hours ago, mihcmac said:

I Built my Explorer from a kit, the scariest part was glueing the set neck in place. There was a lot of sanding and sanding and sanding and sealing and sanding, then a few coats of finish and a lot more sanding and more finish and etc.. Bottom line is there was a lot of sanding and some point you stop sanding and apply the final finish... 🙂

Never built a guitar but I did a Black Powder gun about 35 years back. The wood was from a block and I cut it down to shape.  Talk about sanding?  Took about 2 months  to get it all done. Never shot it either. A Friend wanted it so he bought it and fired it and about 2 years later, he sold it back to me very cheap.   He never cleaned it so I tore it down and redid the gun getting the rust off and the clearances back in order and reblueing it. 

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Tomorrow will be day 1 of the first build. I’ve been telling one of my coworkers about my plans and he wants to build one now too so he’s going to start his build tomorrow with me. He doesn’t play guitar but he has some cool ideas.
 

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. I don’t have my trussrod or fretboard yet so I dunno how far I’ll get tomorrow but I’ll order some stuff I need from stewmac tonight. 
 

my goal is to have a LP Jr double cut   body mostly complete tomorrow and a neck blank ready to route the truss rod channel. 
 

I have a lot of mahogany available at the shop but depending on what I can find I am curious about doing a 5 piece neck similar to what you’d see on a Norlin 335

 

Just had to share my excitement a bit here.. I will post pics tomorrow!

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On 9/21/2020 at 10:04 AM, 'Scales said:

I can't help on the building. To me they are kind of painted chunks of wood with bits stuck on and in them....but, the important thing is that it should be shaped in a way that a graphic artist could paint it to look like a cool cartoon cat (probably a fat male cat crouched facing forward). Maybe the neck could look like its tail sticking up? I don't know. I'm not a graphic artist. A graphic artist would know how to draw it.

Therefore, people who like bands but don't know about guitars would still know that Slash plays a roundy looking one, and Angus plays a pointy looking one, and in the same way that you, Dub , play the cat looking one. That's the thing. That is indeed cool [thumbup]

I agree! 

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13 hours ago, Dub-T-123 said:

Tomorrow will be day 1 of the first build. I’ve been telling one of my coworkers about my plans and he wants to build one now too so he’s going to start his build tomorrow with me. He doesn’t play guitar but he has some cool ideas.
 

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. I don’t have my trussrod or fretboard yet so I dunno how far I’ll get tomorrow but I’ll order some stuff I need from stewmac tonight. 
 

my goal is to have a LP Jr double cut   body mostly complete tomorrow and a neck blank ready to route the truss rod channel. 
 

I have a lot of mahogany available at the shop but depending on what I can find I am curious about doing a 5 piece neck similar to what you’d see on a Norlin 335

 

Just had to share my excitement a bit here.. I will post pics tomorrow!

Very cool, what's your plan for the fretboard?  Are you going to build one from scratch or get a pre radiused / slotted one....?  

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Ordered a pre radiused/slotted board from stewmac. Also ordered pre cut and radiused frets at the recommendation of Rabs. 
 

While looking into this I have found that unless I want to jump into full production mode, it will be much cheaper for a small quantity of builds to just buy the pre slotted pre radiused stuff

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That makes sense, takes a whole level of complexity out of the project.  Again, good luck - looking forward to pictures as you progress.

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Still gonna do all the inlays, fretting, etc myself so it’s still a good challenge. 
 

Ok so I got some work done but forgot a sheet of measurements for the cavity depths etc so I didn’t wanna screw that up. Might do that tomorrow or Monday and maybe the roundover after. Here come some pics..

 

Here is my ‘hog after the first pass through the planer. Wooooo

xlJ3jWL.jpg


 

Not sure if I’ve got enough glue there?

0a2AiqY.jpg

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11 hours ago, Dub-T-123 said:

Ordered a pre radiused/slotted board from stewmac. Also ordered pre cut and radiused frets at the recommendation of Rabs. 
 

While looking into this I have found that unless I want to jump into full production mode, it will be much cheaper for a small quantity of builds to just buy the pre slotted pre radiused stuff

I dont think theres an issue saying it just makes it easier  🙂  Doing the jobs properly requires the right tools (you know that I am sure) to get all those little bits and bobs you need its much easier and as you say cheaper unless you have some kind of production line going on.

You will need some kind of soft faced or brass hammer or something to bash the frets in. Basically any hammer softer than the frets.

Ohh look, stewmac to a brass/plastic one

https://www.ebay.com/itm/StewMac-Fretting-Hammer-Hammer-with-plastic-and-brass-faces/253234239882?hash=item3af5efd98a:g:UooAAOSws6ZZ920y

You can buy them way cheaper though

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Guitar-or-String-instruments-Luthier-Tool-Fret-Hammer-Dual-Head-Nylon-Rubber-9/224174069401?hash=item3431d0d699:g:eycAAOSwjJpfckUv

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2 minutes ago, Dub-T-123 said:

Here is my ‘hog after the first pass through the planer. Wooooo

xlJ3jWL.jpg

 

From what I can see it looks like Sipo Utile.. Used it many times myself..  Very nice wood.. Nice density and can be very pretty. [thumbup]

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All off the mahogany (or maybe utile as Rabs said) at our shop is flatsawn and I wanted to use quartersawn for the neck. I took a piece of flatsawn and cut two smaller pieces out where the grain was in a quartersawn pattern.

 

I’m sure the seam wouldn’t be too visible but I thought it’d look cheap to have the two piece neck. Instead I laminated a  ~1/16” piece of walnut in the center so it looks like I did it all on purpose. I think the little pinstripe running down the center of the neck should look cool. 
 

Planing a piece of walnut to 1/16” was its own little challenge without a drum sander 🙂 

 

So in this pic you will see I didn’t really care much about the pieces being flush because it is all oversized and needs to be properly squared up anyway. But that joint is super tight and it should look great when the neck is shaped and hopefully be nice and stable

 

ZokW5ZK.jpg

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36 minutes ago, Rabs said:

I dont think theres an issue saying it just makes it easier  🙂  Doing the jobs properly requires the right tools (you know that I am sure) to get all those little bits and bobs you need its much easier and as you say cheaper unless you have some kind of production line going on.

You will need some kind of soft faced or brass hammer or something to bash the frets in. Basically any hammer softer than the frets.

Ohh look, stewmac to a brass/plastic one

https://www.ebay.com/itm/StewMac-Fretting-Hammer-Hammer-with-plastic-and-brass-faces/253234239882?hash=item3af5efd98a:g:UooAAOSws6ZZ920y

You can buy them way cheaper though

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Guitar-or-String-instruments-Luthier-Tool-Fret-Hammer-Dual-Head-Nylon-Rubber-9/224174069401?hash=item3431d0d699:g:eycAAOSwjJpfckUv


No issue with it being easier, but my preference would be to do it myself

 

I have the ebay mallet. I like the stewmac tools that I have but the prices on some of their things are stupid. Like a $5 mono jack or $5 Chinese plastic knob. An expensive hammer is something I understand as quality hand tools are not usually the cheapest. Some of their stuff is just the same brand you can get other places for twice the price

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