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Thread: My first build: DTL-1

  1. #1
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    My first build: DTL-1

    Hi all!

    I've just ordered the kit for my first-ever guitar build, a DTL-1. Planning on a natural wood finish, something like this beauty. Space already reserved on the guitar wall...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I do have a few questions, though -- any guidance would be much appreciated!

    What tools will I need to get the job done? I have the normal set of DIY stuff, plus a Dremel, hex keys, soldering kit, small files, and some veneering stuff for some custom computer cases I've made in the past.

    I've watched a fair few YouTube videos (always dangerous), and it does seem that spending time getting the neck and the fretboard just right is worth the effort. So on that basis it sounds like it might be a good plan to get:



    Is there anything I'm missing? Or, on the other hand, am I going tool-crazy and planning to buy stuff I won't need?

    Next question -- which grades of sandpaper would you recommend I get?

    The last question is about the finish. I'm considering linseed oil to bring out the grain pattern out after sanding; would nitrocellulose work well on top of that (assuming it's boiled linseed and I give it a few weeks to fully cure first)?

    Any thoughts much appreciated!

  2. #2
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    Ahah! Looks like I should have read more of these forums before posting the tool questions, it looks like that's all covered thoroughly. Sorry for taking up bandwidth on that :-)

  3. #3
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    No worries, the search function is a bit cumbersome, but it does pay off to look at others build diaries of your type of guitar. It gives you an idea of the problems you might run into and perhaps some inspiration too!

    I tried to stay tool light too and gathered for my build:
    Sanding paper (good quality, its def. worth it) <80-120-240-400-600-800-1200-2000>
    Sanding block
    Notched straight edge
    Long and short ruler <300-600mm>
    Fret file
    Level with sandpaper applied for leveling frets
    Drill
    Soldering iron
    coping saw (for headstock)

    I guess that's it besides the finishings.

    Regarding the finishing: I don't have experience with linseedoil, I have used Timbermate Ebony to bring out the flame and fill the grain. Don't sand before grain filling, this way you'll be able to get more into the grain and get a "better" result.

    Have fun!

  4. #4
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    Thanks, Rolf! That's very useful; if I go with a toolset like yours then I just need to get the notched straight edge and the fret file -- I'm pretty sure I have the rest knocking around (though the coping saw is probably lurking somewhere in a box in the attic).

    And many thanks for the advice about the forums -- I've now got a bunch of ideas to pick through for the finish. Really looking forward to getting the kit :-)

  5. #5
    Mentor DarkMark's Avatar
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    A notched straight edge is pretty easy and cheap to make yourself from a strip of aluminium.

  6. #6
    A notched straight edge is pretty easy and cheap to make yourself from a strip of aluminium.
    Or a 36" steel rule. It needs to be cut shorter, but the edges are quite accurate as far as being square and flat.
    They are a little flexible side to side, but still work fine.

    You can cut 25.5" scale on one side and a 24.75" on the other.
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

  7. #7
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    A fret rocker isn't particularly important if you already plan to level and reprofile the frets. It's only purpose is to help determine if you have proud or low frets in the first place (and you can get a good idea about this with a standard steel rule). But they are cheap, and you can normally get them from Amazon or eBay as part of a set that contains a stainless steel fret profiling file, which is a far more important item if you want to level the frets. Though cheap, The profiling file does a pretty good job as long as the frets are quite tall. The profile cut-out is a bit too deep IMO, and with lower height frets, the two sides end up on the board whilst the top of the fret is clear of the cutting edge. But standard kit frets are tall enough for this without going for a more specialised diamond profiling file.

    You'll still need to sand the frets smooth with sand paper, but then I'd also add to the list a set of Micromesh pads or papers, which are really good for polishing almost any item and take over in fine grits where wet and dry leaves off. Realy smooth frets make so much of a difference to the feel of a neck.

    I used to use straight edge files for levelling frets but have found recently that I've got far better results using a radius block with P240 paper stuck on with double sided tape. You'll need a block that suits the radius of the board, but all the kit necks have a 12" radius (as do Gibson guitars), so that's the one to go for first.

    The nut is an item that can really make a difference to the playability of a guitar. Which ideally means nut files, as the default nut slot height is always far too high (unless you want action suitable for playing slide guitar). Unfortunately these files are expensive. A great investment if you have several guitars or plan on making more kits, but for one guitar it is a bit OTT.

    One alternative is to remove the nut and file the bottom of the nut down until the slots are low enough. The other is to get the nut slots cut professionally.

  8. #8
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    DarkMark, McCreed -- thanks! I assume you're talking about just getting out the Dremel and grinding/cutting out the notches? Sounds pretty doable, but OTOH it looks like I can pick up a ready-made one for about a tenner so it might not be worth the effort? -- eg. this one on eBay.

  9. #9
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    Simon -- also many thanks for the advice! Sounds like I should spend some time on eBay and see what I can find -- perhaps just search for general luthiery kits plus a 12" radius sanding block and then post back here what I've found (both in case anyone wants to offer advice, and for historical reasons in case anyone else in the UK is looking for them in the future).

    I've gone with the bone nut upgrade for the kit -- from what I've read, it sounds like it's also likely to be a tad high, and so it will need to be adjusted to get it to the right height, like you say. I remember watching a Crimson Guitars video where Ben used a neat trick -- I forget exactly what, but I'm sure I'll be able to find it again -- to draw a line on the nut that was the same height as the first fret (after levelling, I assume). Then IIRC he filed the slots in the nut down to that height. Perhaps I could do something similar, but instead I would draw the line, and then use the distance from there to the bottom of the slots as an indication of how much to take off the bottom of the nut. Obviously it would be the kind of thing where I'd do a bit, put it in place and check (and perhaps re-draw the line), then repeat, rather than trying to do it all in one go -- but it sounds like it might work. In my head, anyway...

    BTW I see you're in Reading -- I grew up just down the road in Peppard. Small world!

  10. #10
    GAStronomist Simon Barden's Avatar
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    It is a small world, though I actually grew up in Woking. Worked in Reading and commuted from Woking, then when I moved to Reading I worked in London.

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