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Thread: First Build - DJB4

  1. #1
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    First Build - DJB4

    Hi everyone,

    Very excited to be here with my first build! Iím classical musician (conductor) by profession, but the first instrument I ever bought myself was a steel string guitar at age 14. Iíve always wanted a bass after dabbling a lot at school, but never felt justified in forking out. Building seems like an awesome combination of getting an instrument plus my love of making stuff!

    My 14yo stepson started teaching himself guitar during the first lockdown and bought a cheapy strat copy from cash converters to do a Van Halen paint job on it. This seemed like a fun opportunity to do a parallel project together.

    I took the plunge and my kit arrived a couple of weeks ago. It took me that time to decide on the finish, and now Iím ready to get going.

    The plan is for a somewhat Jaguar shape. This was drawn from a few plans Iíve seen online modding a J bass to a Jaguar shape. Keeping all the other components the same

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    Pickguard shape my own - It may change once I see the stain/grain combo. Iíve ordered a blank dark blue pearloid guard from Musiclily.

    I really like the grain so decided to go with a stain for this first build.
    Finish will be Dingotone Coolangatta gold and tru-oil.

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    Next steps:
    Cut the body shape modifications and sand (and sand again)
    Do dry build.

    Question re: tools
    Having not done much woodwork since high school - does anyone have recommendations for tools for the body mod? The body is ash. Could I do the shape above with a coping saw or would a jigsaw be better? Also, is it best to make a MDF template first and cut around that?

    I also need to cut the Pickguard blank. Ideally a tool that could do both would be great!

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by IngridM; 03-12-2020 at 08:57 AM.

  2. #2
    Member JimC's Avatar
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    Big caveat. I am not a skilled luthier. So far I have made one solid body and its not finished yet. So bear that in mind.

    Having said that I reckon the easiest and probably best way to do a body is to rough shape it with a band saw and fine tune the shape with a template, a router, and ball bearing guided bits. It's good for evenly rounding corners as well. However that's an expenditure in tools that easily, even vastly, exceeds the cost of the kit, so unless you are planning on doing lots of high end woodworking or your family is in the billionaire category you'll want an alternative.

    I have become a big fan of wood rasps. Previously a tool I had little use for I bought a couple of cheap Chinese made rasps when I had to shape a neck, and I'm converted. Possibly even better, but which I don't have experience of, is a Japanese design tool I think called a saw rasp. They get good press. Either way I suggest getting the body thereabouts with whatever saw is handy, getting it right down to shape with a hand rasp, and then sand. For sanding drum and /or flap wheel attachments for a power drill can assist with the horrible end grain.

    An idea that came up recently is to print the body shape on a laser printer, and then use a hot iron to iron some of the toner onto the body as a guide. Do that top and bottom and it seems to me it should help getting the sides parallel. The other thing I really recommend is a small modellers square. You can get stainless steel ones at moderate cost.
    Last edited by JimC; 03-12-2020 at 10:47 AM.
    Build #1, failed solid body 6 string using neck from a scrapped acoustic (45+ odd years ago as a teenager!)
    Build #2, ugly parlour semi with scratch built body and ex Peavey neck
    Build #3, Appalachian Dulcimer from EMS kit
    Build #4, pre-owned PB ESB-4
    Build #5, Lockdown Mandolin
    Build #6, Sixty six body for Squier
    Build #7, Mini Midi Bass

  3. #3
    Mentor robin's Avatar
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    Hi Ingrid, and welcome.

    Another Caveat here also. I build all my guitars using hand tools only, so my experience will be different than most of the folk here.

    Ash is fairly easy to work with and a coping saw will definitely get the shape you want but it will be rather slow and tedious because of the small teeth. I agree with Jim in that I would use an ordinary saw, in my case a hand saw, and take off the big chunks that get you close to the shape/size you want and then use a rasp to get the final shape, then sand, sand, sand. I also agree with Jim about the Japanese Saw Rasp. I bought one several builds ago and it is by far the best tool I own, and highly recommended. Removes the wood very quickly without the ripping and tearing that you sometimes get with a course rasp.

    It looks as though you have some sort of template there, so I would pencil around that and work back to that with saw, rasp, files and sandpaper.

    I have also shaped several scratch plates and use a coping saw for that. Easy peazy.

    Take your time and have fun with the build.

    rob
    Last edited by robin; 03-12-2020 at 12:48 PM.

  4. #4
    Mentor McCreed's Avatar
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    Hi Ingrid. Mostly just a welcome message here as I have little to add to the previous advice: Saw/Rasp/Sand.

    Further to the Japanese Saw Rasp, definitely will be adding at least one to my tool box. (Are you listening Santa?)
    I've had a couple of jobs recently where one of those would have been just the ticket.

    I'm seeing them between $48-$59 without shipping, so a very manageable amount for the value it could provide.
    I think FrankenWashie uses them a lot.
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

  5. #5
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    Thanks so much everyone. Another option materialised today - taking it to the woodwork room at the school I teach at where I may be able to access a band saw and router. If that doesnít work out I will definitely get the Japanese saw/rasp. I do like the idea of doing it by hand...

  6. #6
    Mentor JohnH's Avatar
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    Welcome, Ingrid!
    #001 (LP-1S) [finished - co-runner up Nov 2018 GOTM]
    #002 (WL-1)
    #003 (MPL Megacaster - semi scratch build) [finished]
    #004 (ST-1 JR - Arachnoid Superhero build) [finished]
    #005 (LP jr)
    #006 (TL-1A)

    Junk shop acoustic refurbs (various)
    'The TGS Special'

  7. #7
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    Thanks John!

  8. #8
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    Neck pocket ok? Bone nut too high?

    Started shaping the body (cutting down the horns - is that what they're called?) after buying a jigsaw and file. I'm going for a more Jazzmaster shape but not as pointy. The file is very slow - I think it is too fine for getting big chunks off, but will be good for later steps.

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    I've got a few questions after the mock build.

    #1 Neck pocket - Is it ok? - the fit is pretty snug. There isn't really much wiggle but there is a small visible gap. Is this a problem? Is it normal? Will I need to create a shim for this? It's very slim and I don't know how I'd do that.

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    #2 - String Height / Bone Nut too high?

    The strings seem super high. The neck has a very slight convex bend as it should. I haven't adjusted the truss rod. It looks like the bone nut is too tall? Any input on this appreciated...

    At bone nut
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    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #9
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    String height continued...

    More pictures of the string height issue...

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    At bridge...I know the saddles are wonky. I was midway through adjusting them.

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    Over fingerboard

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    Any comments??

  10. #10
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    Neck alignment...strings parallel, BUT

    So the strings look great on the mock build. Parallel all the way up and down. But the gap between fingerboard and Low E is much wider than the gap between fingerboard and high E. Is this normal?

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