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Thread: My first build (SV-1)

  1. #1
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    My first build (SV-1)

    Hi all,

    Having ordered my kit last month I was finally allowed to open the box on Christmas Day (I'm a long time Steve Vai fan so thought I'd go for the SV-1):

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    In between other seasonal duties I've made a start with fret levelling and crowning (out of order really I know but I really wanted to do something!). Now I've moved on to trying to position the neck correctly. The neck is free to move so I've determined the 'correct' position based on a scale length of 648mm. This causes fret 18 to line up with the base of the top cutaway - which seems to be exactly in line with images of the real thing I have found online. In this position however the curve/join to the rear seems to be a long way up the neck:

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    Is this to be expected? It feels too far to me so I was considering attempting to carve it back a bit (I don't have power tools for this kind of work so it would be a wood chisel and lots of manual sanding).

    Secondly, with the bridge in place it catches the edge of the cavity:

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    Again, I was just going to take a bit of material away and sand a bit of slope in but wanted to check I hadn't missed anything first.

    Any assistance greatly appreciated!
    Last edited by Greg Stanley; 29-12-2020 at 06:33 PM.

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  3. #2
    Overlord of Music McCreed's Avatar
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    In this position however the curve/join to the rear seems to be a long way up the neck:
    Is this to be expected? It feels too far to me so I was considering attempting to carve it back a bit (I don't have power tools for this kind of work so it would be a wood chisel and lots of manual sanding).
    The short answer is yes. There's no problem with shaping that forward portion of the heel so it conforms to the curved end of the pocket.
    However, I would not do it with a chisel (but that's just me).
    I would use a rasp and/or drum sander followed by hand sanding. The perfect tool for this is a Japanese Saw Rasp, which I've not acquired yet but on my "to get" list.

    Secondly, with the bridge in place it catches the edge of the cavity:
    Again, I was just going to take a bit of material away and sand a bit of slope in but wanted to check I hadn't missed anything first.
    First, is it the routing or is that one pivot post too far back? Does the front edge of the bridge plate line up parallel to the bridge route?

    If it's the routing, you could sand it back at an angle, but that's bit of a half measure to me.
    Doing it with a router or even a Dremel with a sanding drum would be better. It would look neater and have a cavity wall that is perpendicular the top. Having it square that way will allow for full adjustment up and down as required.

    If the problem is the pivot post, you will need to plug it with wooden dowel and re-drill it (being careful not drill through the back of the body).
    Last edited by McCreed; 30-12-2020 at 06:46 AM.
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

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    Thanks so much for the response McCreed. It's taken a while to get back to the computer but I have managed to progress things in the meantime.

    The short answer is yes.
    Good to know, thanks! I was a little concerned that I'd not followed something right but after many hours of staring at it and with this advice I went ahead and sanded it in to shape and I'm really pleased with the results (having never done it before).

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    I've never heard of a Japanese Saw Rasp but after a quick Google - yes, I think that would have been perfect. As it was I just took my time sanding.

    As for the bridge catching, I think it was a bit of both. The hole for the top post seemed fractionally further back than the lower one (and I mean really fractionally - half a mill at most) but then the cavity itself had almost zero clearance even at the bottom. I have an old RG series and the clearance at the end of the bridge is significantly larger. I totally agree with the router/Dremel approach however I don't own either of these and my 'workshop' doubles up as the family living room . That only left me with the half measure option really so I just sanded it back slowly (I've had plenty of time over Christmas!). It's not perfect, far short of the standards of many in these forums I'm sure, but not awful and is fairly obscured once the bridge is in place. And that's ok, I'm expecting to have to compromise in places as I know I don't have all the tools. If there's a second project in future I'll have a better idea of what to invest in. I forgot to take any specific pictures but it can be seen here:

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    I've actually made a start on the staining now which has been quite a journey, hopefully I'll be able to do another update later.

    Thanks again.

  6. #4
    Overlord of Music McCreed's Avatar
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    Glad to hear you're making progress. Look forward to seeing more. Keep us posted!
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

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    I started the stain a while back and, well, as I mentioned previously, it didn't go exactly as I imagined. I'm using Crimson Guitars stain shots. Firstly, I did not dilute it anywhere near enough. Then I totally underestimated how much more I would need when moving from testing on small bits of wood. I also got caught out by the affect of it drying differently in different areas of the wood and realised the end grain just wasn't sanded well enough. The result was very dark and patchy. So... I sanded most of it back. I didn't both taking pictures of the original attempt but the result of sanding left me with this:

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    I actually really like how the last sections highlighted parts of the wood so I left a bit on.

    I tried again, and after a couple of days of reviewing, adding a bit more here and there, I ended up with:

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    Which I was much, much happier with.

  8. #6
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    You can actually see a small dent behind the bridge on the previous pictures (it wasn't there when I applied the stain so I must have knocked it at some point - whoops).

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    I read in one of the other threads that you could steam small dents out so I gave it a go... and it worked brilliantly.

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    I put an incredibly small dab of water just on the mark itself, stuck a cloth over it and held an iron against it for about 5 seconds and that was it. I had no idea that you could do that. Thanks everyone!

  9. #7
    Overlord of Music McCreed's Avatar
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    That's positive progress, and your persistence paid off. Looking good.

    For future reference, when steaming out dents, you dampen the cloth and press the soldering iron to the cloth rather than applying water directly to the wood. It gives you better control over how much moisture is transferred into the wood.
    A dry cloth on damp wood is mostly just going to absorb the water out of the wood.

    However, you got your result, so that's what matters.
    Making the world a better place; one guitar at a time...

  10. #8
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    Nice progress, I really like that green burst, it’s quite fetching. Great job!
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  11. #9
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    Hey Greg, I am getting my SV-1 today (Christmas gift also) and it's my first ever build. I'll be learning from your progress! Looking good!

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    Oh wow, I'm only really managing to get on here at the weekends (what with total lockdown in the UK and having to entertain/restrain two kids) and I didn't actually expect to people taking an interest in my work, sorry for the delay.

    and press the soldering iron to the cloth rather than applying water directly to the wood
    Ahhh, on the cloth and use a soldering iron, yes, that makes a lot of sense (I definitely didn't use my regular clothes iron, d'oh). Noted - thank you!

    Nice progress, I really like that green burst, it’s quite fetching. Great job!
    Thank you. I'm really pleased with it. What with it being a SV I wanted to go for something different/quirky and it's definitely that. The colours change completely when it crosses from one section of wood to another which I didn't really anticipate at all but I really like it. I've been applying oil for the last two weeks and it's changed again.

    Hey Greg, I am getting my SV-1 today (Christmas gift also) and it's my first ever build. I'll be learning from your progress! Looking good!
    Excellent! Well, I'm really enjoying it. I don't have a great track record of finishing projects so just getting to the end is my goal - having others watching should hopefully keep me motivated.




    I don't think I've mentioned anywhere but I bought alternative pickups and at some point over Christmas I switched them in. For the neck I got a Gravity Storm just because I've never owned a DiMarzio pickup and thought an SV should have at least one. Then at the bridge an Iron Gear Steam Hammer because it seem the closest to an Evo that they do (I've used their Hot Slag model for years and it's great). All wired in:

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    And for the last two weeks I've been applying oil, one coat per day in the evening. The first five coats used Crimson Guitars penetrating guitar oil and then I switched to their High Build. The penetrating oil more or less completely sank in but it was at about the ninth coat that a gentle shine started to appear:

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    I have to say I was pretty nervous with the first one. I originally intended to apply it using 1200 grit wet dry paper as this is what Ben from Crimson recommends, I watched this example multiple times. But I bottled it and just used a cloth. After that I seemed to develop a sort of hybrid approach where I applied the oil across everything with a rag then ran 1500 grit wet dry paper across. This left things fairly even but also helped combat a bit of a problem I had with dust. I don't think it's major but it wasn't something I'd seen comments about before. You can't see it in the regular day light but under the downlighters the tiny specs really stood out. The paper didn't add to it and I could drag the bigger bits to the edge. I'm up to 14 coats now and the change between each is much less dramatic so I think I'm about there on the oil front - well, apart from the back of the neck.

    As for appearance, I knew the oil would darken the finish but it really darkened it. I was a actually worried it would be too light before I started but in fact I should probably have left it even lighter. I also lost a bit of the blue in the first one or two coats so it's slightly more green now than I wanted but that's fine.

    Things could slow down even more though now as I'm considering replacing the pickguard as I'm not convinced the white fits with the colour the guitar has ended up.

    Not sure if this is the right place for it but I ordered the Grover locking tuners however the invoice with the kit indicated they are on back order. Would I be ok to fit the standard tuners now i.e. is the little whole going to be in the right place? And is there a way to get an estimate of when the real ones might be available? I'd actually consider taking the gold ones too.

    That's all for now.

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