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PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2018 3:59 pm 
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Hello!

My wife bought me a Seattle/Jazz kit from Gear4Music at christmas, so it's about time I made a start on it. I've played guitar since I was 12, or put an other way, for 40 years, and I've owned several guitars, nothing more elaborate than a Squier Strat/Jaguar or Epiphone SG. I've never paid much attention to the mechanics or been too bothered about setup - if it sounds ok, then I'm ok. So, I don't have much of an idea of where to start. I was going to prepare the body and neck first, staining, painting etc. Is that advisable or do I dive straight in with the electrics? I have my soldering iron and solder ready!!

Sorry, if any of my questions are stupid, feel free to point me to another forum if need be!


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:25 am 
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Location: Hegins, Pa
questions are never stupid Answers may be LOL
you will find we are here to help so ask away

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Blues Creek Guitars Inc
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 11:20 am 
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There is no such thing as a stupid question. It would be stupid NOT to ask. Besides, we love questions! Welcome to the forum.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 1:32 pm 
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Among us, we have probably already asked most of your "stupid" questions...probably some even more stupid.

If you're learning something new, you've got to ask questions about what you don't know. So ask away. I love answering questions. It helps foster the delusion that I know something. <grin>

I take it this is what you have:
https://www.gear4music.com/us/en/Guitar ... IY-Kit/PZU

I've never built an electric guitar, so bear in mind John's (Tippie53) caveat about stupid answers, but I think I would be inclined to do a complete assembly first, then take it apart, do the finishing, and reassemble. That assumes everything attached to the wood is screwed on and removable. If wires go through holes and are soldered to things on both sides of the holes, finishing before the installation of those components would probably be advisable.

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Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2018 8:58 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
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MaineGeezer wrote:
I've never built an electric guitar, so bear in mind John's (Tippie53) caveat about stupid answers, but I think I would be inclined to do a complete assembly first, then take it apart, do the finishing, and reassemble. That assumes everything attached to the wood is screwed on and removable. If wires go through holes and are soldered to things on both sides of the holes, finishing before the installation of those components would probably be advisable.


In my experience, I would not do this. I would make the best effort possible to assemble it exactly once. Why? Because these cheaper kits have screws biting directly into the wood of the neck heel, meaning every time you disassemble and reassemble, the whole thing gets sloppier. Also, do not set it up, take it apart, and expect the setup to be even remotely accurate when you put it back together. That's part of the slop in the joint that I was talking about.

If you take it apart a couple times along the way, it will probably work just fine when you're done -- but you've now burned a couple of the opportunities for future repair before the holes in the neck heel get too chewed up to work properly.

Putting the electronics on is not particularly difficult, whether you do so before or after assembly. It's certainly not worth taking the neck off if it's already attached. It's not even necessary to completely unstring it, just loosen them off enough that the pick guard (and everything dangling from it) can be slipped in and out as required. Personally, I made the output jack attach to the pick guard with push-on terminals rather than being soldered directly, and the ground wire running to the tremolo bridge claw is attached to the output jack's wire so it also gets disconnected at the same time. That way I can detach the entire pick guard and put the guitar aside when work needs to be done on the electronics. (Pic attached.)

Also, you want to shield the cavities and the back of the pick guard. Pros use copper foil tape and/or conductive paint, but aluminum foil tape is way, way cheaper (as in you can get a roll at the dollar store which will cover three guitars vs. $20 worth of copper to kit out a guitar) and it doesn't matter a whole lot as long as the adhesive is electrically conductive. If it's not, then you have to periodically roll the edge of the tape over so there is metal-to-metal contact which you can then secure with more tape.

So, do the finish first, shield second, fit the rest of the parts like the neck and bridge third, and then install electronics last. That would be my advice. Also, spend lots of time and love on the neck -- leveling and crowning frets, taking all the rough edges off -- because that's where cheap instruments show their shortcomings the most. If you can make it feel good, you'll play it even if it isn't the best sounding instrument. (Then you can hunt for pickups to make it sound better.) I found wipe-on polyurethane works just fine as a finish for the back of the neck. Two coats with a little light (800 grit) sanding in between and after, and it's almost like the poly isn't even there.

My other experiences with kits like this: (1) The pickups are probably going to be awful. Expect to replace them. (2) The rest of the electronics are cheap but perfectly functional. There is no point in replacing anything unless/until it breaks. (3) The tuners are probably going to suck, expect to replace those too. However, if you don't bend a lot, you may actually find the included set to be usable. They're certainly good enough to start playing, but re-tuning every five minutes gets old fast. (4) Sinking a little more money to buy better parts is worthwhile, because the kit is rough, not bad. If you put enough time and care into it, you'll get a good instrument out the other end -- except for those damn pickups.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2018 6:35 am 
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...and that is why a second opinion is a good thing to get! As has often been the case, I find my intuition to be suspect.

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Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -- Will Rogers
There are lots of people who mistake their imagination for their memory. - Josh Billings
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2018 4:32 am 
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Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2018 3:50 pm
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Thank all for the welcome and the advice. I honestly didn't know where to start although my head was telling me to do the finish/paintwork first. Strangely (or perhaps not?) the instructions tell you to do the electronics and shows pictures of a plain guitar. Perhaps they had to put it back in the box to sell later :roll: I'm on quite a small budget, i.e. next to nothing unless I win the lottery, so new pickups will have to wait a while. I do bend quite a lot, quite severely to be honest so retuning a lot isn't new to me, but some decent tuners would be nice too.

I'll let you know how I get on and thanks again


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 1:39 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
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Then you may go down the same route I did as far as pickups go: I got eBay pickups (Hot Rails) for $7 each. They don't sound great, but they don't sound bad either, and they do function as humbuckers as far as noise suppression goes. Coil split mode is worthless, it makes them sound worse than the crap that came with the guitar, but full humbucker mode is fine and I can still find the Stratocaster "spank" when required. Since you have room for actual humbuckers, you have more options.

I'd advise trying to live with the included tuners until you can afford a decent upgrade. I went to the absolute cheapest locking tuners I could find, which ran around $12, and they're just nasty. I had to crimp the threaded tube that surrounds the center post on two of them, just to keep the threads from slipping. Stick with the stock ones until you can put $30 into a set of tuners.

So going cheap worked out OK with the pickups, not so great with the tuners.

Another thing I figured out (I'm sure I'm not the first) is that picks are bigger than knobs, and there are some pretty damn cool looking picks out there, so cutting a circle out and gluing it onto a knob can be a quick way to add some flair. I ordered brass knobs and decided against using them on this because they're heavy, and plastic knobs aren't. Why make the contraption any heavier than it needs to be? Anyhow, I balked at the prices of blue knobs that wouldn't even have the right words on them (my controls are a global volume-bass-treble rather than volume and two tone pots) and I had some neat looking picks that are way too thin to actually play, so hey, two problems solved. How on earth does anyone actually play with a 0.42mm pick? So I'm left with 100 picks I'll never play, but some of them look pretty neat. A few look exactly like my pick guard (which cost about $10 for Jazzmaster style bodies, BTW – so there's another low-budget customization option to consider).


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