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Thread: Popping Cherry with Hardtail Strat

  1. #1

    Popping Cherry with Hardtail Strat

    I heard about PitBull guitars from a friend. As luck would have it, my son's 10th birthday is coming up so I ordered him an Ash body, maple neck hardtail strat kit. This will be a first build for the two of us.

    I am probably in a bad spot to try and build a guitar, as I am a long time player that can appreciate a great guitar, but never built one myself. I figure getting on this board was a good idea because I am certain to have questions along the way.
    This board is a great community, by the way. I found enough information here to get the courage to try this out.
    If this goes well, I plan to add that hollow body to my collection with a Pit Bull kit.

    Nice kit arrived in the mail today. I am happy with the fit and finish so far. Wood grain is not bad either.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    STA-1MHT
    Last edited by FunkedOut; 01-07-2019 at 01:08 PM. Reason: STA-1MHT

  2. Liked by: rokitrik

  3. #2
    Thanks to the threads in this forum, I ordered a neck rule (straight edge with fret notches), a 12" radius sanding block and a fret crowing tool. I should have those in a couple days.

    One thing I noticed while looking over the neck is that from the 12th fret to the 16th fret, there is a slight gap between the fret and finger board in the middle. I don't have one of those little plastic hammers with poly heads, but I have a small steel hammer and wood blocks I can use. I also have a dead blow hammer and a rubber mallet. I plan on using the small hammer with a thin piece of mahogany and try to tap those in before any sanding happens.

    Should I use any wood glue in that gap before tapping the frets in?
    Or just tap them home?

    Until the fret/neck tools show up, I can work on the headstock...
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  4. #3
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    sounds like a nice father/son activity. Have fun with the build and don't get too stressed if something doesn't work out quite the way you want.

    I cannot offer any advice on the frets as I'm new to this as well. I'm sure before too long someone very knowledgeable will assist. I have a hunch nearly every possible issue has been encountered and discussed before.

  5. #4
    Took the plastic nut off by scoring the outline with an exacto blade, followed by a few light taps with my small hammer and a block of wood, north and south.
    It drifted off east to west pretty easy with the same hammer and punch after that.
    I had been worried about splintering the neck on this operation.

    A jigsaw, a 1x30 belt sander, a dremel and some sandpaper made quick work of the headstock.
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    The entire neck got a 120 grit treatment which actually made it smoother than it arrived.
    I did not sand the fingerboard at all.
    I gave the whole thing a wipe with a damp cloth to raise the grain.
    I'll finish sand it after I get the frets done.

    Speaking of finishes, I figure I will finish the neck with the same finish as the body.
    Does the fingerboard stay naked and get an oil finish?
    Or does a coat or two of TruOil belong there?

  6. Liked by: Thunderbird

  7. #5
    Member I値l give it a go's Avatar
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    Speaking of finishes, I figure I will finish the neck with the same finish as the body.
    Does the fingerboard stay naked and get an oil finish?
    Or does a coat or two of TruOil belong there?[/QUOTE]

    I used Tru Oil on my neck, and it worked really well. Also on the maple fingerboard.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  8. #6
    Fret/neck tools showed up today!
    I went ahead and tapped the frets flush against the fretboard using a small hammer and a block of wood.
    No glue applied and the frets stayed put.

    I need to give credit for the method I used to do my fret work.
    I caught my bearings and understood the process from the sticky by @Gavin1393
    https://www.buildyourownguitar.com.a...ead.php?t=1775
    Thanks, Gavin. I had not idea how to go about starting this until I read your thread.

    I used a neck rule to set the neck straight. I had to lefty/loosey the truss rod until it became stiff, then continue extending it about a full turn to get the neck to sit straight.

    Per the sticky, I marked the frets with a sharpie and proceeded to level the frets with 240grit sand paper on a 12" radius block. Just a few swipes had all the tops shiny.

    From here on out, I gathered more inspiration from Guns and Guitars on YouTube:
    https://youtu.be/wbpVPcdxMl8

    I took his recommendation for a fairly priced crowning file and using a dremel to polish the frets, rather than running through a series of grits paper.
    I did find that going straight from the file to the polishing wheel was not sufficient. The polish would leave file marks behind.

    My process ended up being:
    • crowning file
    • 600 grit paper (really just hitting the sides of the frets)
    • 1000 grit stone on the ends (to make sure not sharp edges)
    • dremel polish with red jewelers rouge

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I also found that using the fretboard protectors required and extra set of finger that were in the way and didn't cover as close to the fret as the tape does. I found it worth the time to tape up the fret board and be done with that part of it.

    Here is a close up of a couple frets on the left post crowning file, and a couple frets on the right post 600grit:
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    Fret work done.
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  9. #7
    Member I値l give it a go's Avatar
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    Well done there, good job. I noticed Gavin痴 post after I ballsed up my fret leveling. Wish I壇 have seen it first. Ended up taking it to a luthier who rescued it.
    I have now saved his post for next time.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  10. #8
    Thanks. Sucks you didn't catch the thread at first. At least you saved the neck.
    I'm trying to stay ahead on this one to avoid making any firewood.

    It's been slow here lately waiting for a bottle of Tru-Oil to show up.
    I wanted to seal the maple before any more handling.

    I sanded the entire neck down to 600 grit, but only touched up the fretboard with 600 to get rid of the grain I raised.
    Any sanding on the fretboard led to black nastiness getting into the grain.
    The black stuff was a mixture of the emery cloth, inlay dust and a bit of fret dust, even though I tried to stay away from them.
    It took a lot of cleaning with alcohol to get rid of the black stuff. Flood and wipe, flood and wipe...

    I figure a nice seal coat of finish will keep the wood clean while I mock up the body and get the rest of the build lined up.
    I've always cut the first few coats of Tru-Oil with mineral spirits (50/50) to let it penetrate deeper into the wood.
    I figure two coats of 50/50 equals one coat of pure Tru-Oil.
    Here it is after a couple coats of 50/50:
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    Gotta love that first coat. It really wakes up the grain.
    Speaking of grain, this neck has some funky grain.
    There's some character you can see on the back that looks like it got whacked pretty good!
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    There another bit further down the neck along the same lines, but not as bad.
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  11. #9
    For joining the body and neck together, I broke out a laser to shoot a guide line down the center of the neck and body.
    The neck has a decent amount of play in how it can sit in the pocket.
    I found the gap between the neck and body on the top side (as played) to be the ugliest part if the fit, so I positioned the neck up against that wall of the pocket to minimize that gap.
    I wish I would致e taken a 礎efore pic to show how bad the gap was the rest of the way around when I did that.
    I proceeded to mark the high spots and sand them down with 120 grit, until the gap was gone.
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    Ran back through the grits to 600, and gave the entire neck another 50/50 coat of Tr-Oil.
    Last edited by FunkedOut; 01-07-2019 at 04:03 AM.

  12. #10
    Now turning my attention back to the pocket in the body, I noticed the four holes were drilled by a drunken monkey going on memory of what the neck plate looked like!
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    ok, it's not that bad. I suppose I could find an orientation for the plate that would allow me to simply enlarge the holes so that all four screws will pass through, but that is not what i am after here.
    I think the overall center of the four screws does not straddle the centerline of the guitar.
    The neck is wider at the bridge end of the pocket than the nut end of the pocket.
    The pocket follows that shape as well.
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    Of course, the centerline of the guitar is actually up to me to decide. My decision of the neck to body fit relying on the neck seating up against the long side of the pocket will dictate the centerline of the body (in line with the centerline of the neck) which drives everything else; neck plate, bridge, etc.
    Luckily, when the neck is seated as I preferred it, the pick up routing lines up nicely, so I am good to go there.

    In went some oak dowels with wood glue to erase these holes before I proceed.
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