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My First

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 107
Here's my first -- a Stewmac mahogany dread. After three arduous months working every free minute I could find (which wasn't many because I have two young kids), I finally was able to call my guitar "done." Done is a subjective term as I can see a few things I can fix even now. I put the strings on it the other night, half expecting the thing to collapse or fold in half, but it turns out I was overly pessimistic. It was MUCH more work than I ever imagined, and I was challenged every step of the way. I will probably do another one, but the honey-do list is so long I'd be committing suicide it I started another one right away.

Look close and you can see the finishing job leaves a LOT to be desired, and there are more than a few warts and "oops's", but overall I'm very happy. I'm even happier because it sounds pretty darned good. I can live with the warts if the sound is decent, which it is. I even took it to my instructor last night and showed it to him. He has been around guitars for quite some time -- has a vintage Martin and has played professionally in Nashville, and he was quite impressed.

I replaced the black plastic binding with rosewood adn w/b/w purfling. I changed the headstock overlay and fretboard to rosewood (instead of ebony). I used a tortoise pickguard instead of the black one that came with the kit. I ditched the herringbone purfling on the top, and I swapped the ebony fretboard for a rosewood one as well.

Anyways, here are a few photos. Thankfully, the macro feature on my camera is broken :).

I hope this provides a little inspiration for those of you struggling through your first builds. If I can do it, anyone can! Enjoy.


Sep 08, 06 | 5:22 am

Total Topics: 37
Total Posts: 676

I've been following your other thread on building from a kit and I just have to say that you have done an outstanding job on the dred! There is just an incredible amount of satisfaction in knowing that your hands have made the box that the music is coming from.

Congrats!!! ... and what are you going to do for your next one ? :)


Sep 08, 06 | 6:06 am
Dennis Weatherly

Total Topics: 73
Total Posts: 651
Looks great, Mark! It has to be a great feeling to string it up and play it for the first time. I like the change you made on the bindings.

Sep 08, 06 | 7:52 am

Total Topics: 13
Total Posts: 71
Mark -

I think it looks GREAT!!! I'm totally impressed!!! If mine comes out looking that good, I'll be thrilled!!!

Off topic... what did you happen to do with that herringbone perfling? My kit didn't come with any so I'll probably be buying some. I was looking at doing some rosewood with w/b/w as you did. But I tested my back plates on my rim last night, and it doesn't QUITE cover. So, I'm going to have to put a backstrip in it. I figure since I'm doing that, I might as well go ahead and make it the full blown herringbone dread.

thx, and Congratulations!!

Sep 08, 06 | 7:56 am

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 107
Thank you guys! I never thought this day would come, especially when I was scrambling to fix router mishaps, mis-measurements, and a general lack of experience. But it did for me, and it will for those of you struggling through your first build. I think the one thing I've realized from this is that, although a guitar needs to be made with precision, there is a little room for error (like the fact that my bridge is about 1/16" off-center to accomodate the fact that I couldn't get the neck to line up straight to save my life).

It is a sweet, and very rewarding moment. As I watched my instructor play it last night, it really hit me that I had made a real guitar. That was a way cool feeling!

Brandon -- if you need a set of herringbone purfling, you can have mine. Let me know and we can make that happen.


Sep 08, 06 | 9:53 am
Phlytyer (Keith)

Total Topics: 37
Total Posts: 273
Great job. Really like your use of rosewood. It adds a very special touch to the guitar. Hoping mine will turn out this nice.

Sep 08, 06 | 4:42 pm

Total Topics: 13
Total Posts: 81
WOw I love the finish its so bright I hope you send a sound clip soon I have to hear it. Uh you inspired me to start mine! but the weather up here is brutal and sadly I will have to wait through cold weather till I can get to a proper shop. That guitar would look so nice with a sleak inlay on the top of that dark headstock. congrats!

Sep 13, 06 | 6:53 pm

Total Topics: 9
Total Posts: 58
Looks Great Mark! Great Job!


Sep 14, 06 | 5:53 am
Ken Hundley

Total Topics: 40
Total Posts: 2169
Beautiful Job Mark! Don't worry bout the warts, they all have/ or get them, they call it "Charm" in real estate. You think it sounds good now? Wait a month, it will sound even better. Wait 2 years, it'll make you melt every time you hear her. Congratulations!

Sep 14, 06 | 6:48 am

Total Topics: 25
Total Posts: 58
Nice job Mark. I hope mine looks as good.....


Sep 14, 06 | 1:02 pm

Total Topics: 18
Total Posts: 107
You guys are far too kind! Thank you very much for the nice words and compliments. I don't think it would take much to surpass the quality of this guitar -- some of you guys are real pros. As far as posting sound would probably crash this forum :).


Sep 14, 06 | 1:14 pm
Bill Cory

Total Topics: 158
Total Posts: 3584
Mark -- Beautiful job! Send a 30-sec sound file to me by email ( and I'll put it and a picture on the KitGuitarBuilder site!

Way to go -- feels absolutely great, doesn't it!


Sep 14, 06 | 6:29 pm

Total Topics: 22
Total Posts: 68
Hey Mark, I just got my first kit, a Stewmac mahogany dread like yours. I really like the color of yours and would like to do mine as close as possible to yours. What finish system or products did you use? Thanks in advance.

Nov 16, 07 | 7:43 am

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