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PostPosted: Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:18 am 
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Cocobolo
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First name: Martin
Last Name: Lane
City: Grand Rapids
State: Michigan
Focus: Build
I've been working on a 000 kit I bought from Steve Kovacik last November. It has been my first guitar. And as I'm nearing completion of it (I'll drop it off to be finished by Joe White on June 14!), I'm thinking back on the many mistakes I made working on this one. I've learned a lot. I've felt pretty stupid pretty often. Anyway, maybe some of this may be of interest for those that have yet to get knee deep into a kit for the first time.

I trimmed the bottom of the neck block, when I should have left it way proud and then sanded at an angle to accomodate the angle of the back. I wound up using a shim under the block.

my external body mold made a small crack in the top, near the tail block when I glued the back on. I had a piece of wood glued to the mold that kept the mold even, when it was sitting on my work bench. and the overhang of the top touched that piece of wood. the pressure from the rubber bands on the back pushed the top into the piece of wood, which I didn't see right away, as it was upside-down. to make matters worse, I super glued the crack and sanded it with a sponge-sander rather than a block with sandpaper on it, making a divot in the top near the end block. I may still glue a spruce cleat under that divot, for insurance.

another thing that happened when I glued the back on the first time, was that my neck block was resting on my back's internal center strip. if the neck block had been tall enough, I would've noticed that before it was too late.

my bridge plate doesn't butt up right against one of my cross braces. I read about how it should do that after I had closed up the box.

I used a two year old bottle of titebond to glue on the back braces, before I read that it should be fresh. so I went out and bought a new bottle to use to glue the braces on the top and for the rest of the build.

The cantilever on my neck block sat on top of my popsicle brace when I put the top on. so I had to chisel out a space in the popsicle brace so that the neck block wouldn't rest on top of the brace.

I didn't plan out the peghead holes for the tuners well enough, and chose to re-do them using birch dowels. (my kit didn't come with a peghead template.) I found a template here at OLF, after the damage had already been done.

I didn't get a good fit the first time I glued the back on, and re-did it by first removing the back with an iron and a pocketknife.

I sanded the guitar throughout the process, making surfaces look clean, but I probably could/should have done this all at the end.

I glued the back binding on with epoxy, which was messy. masking tape doesn't hold down very well over top of epoxy.

The maple binding on the back is getting pretty thin. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the finish sanding doesn't wipe some of it out altogether.

when I installed my herringbone purfling, I joined the two pieces near the end block off center! I was able to cut it, and rejoin it, making it look like it was centered, but if you look closely, you can see the cut.

my soundhole is just a tiny bit not in the center of the top. (between 1/16" and 1/32").

my back strip doesn't exactly line up with the point on my neck's end cap.

I think those are the major mistakes, unless my unconscious has selectively forgotten another. in addition to the mistakes, I also redid several things, in order to get them better. this being my first time, I had to do this, in order to "practice," to get a good result. but it often felt at the time that I was just having a hard time because I am an idiot!

I made four tail wedges, installed them all, and removed three of them, before I got a result that I liked.

I wrecked the nut that came with my kit, and am currently working on the second one, although I won't finish that one until I set up the guitar. so we'll see how that goes.

I removed the back 2 times, and re-glued it on. after that, I partially removed part of the back (near the lower bout) and re-glued that portion of it.

It took me two tries before I got the dovetail right. (about 30 hours went into that alone). the second time, I relied on a combination chisel-chalk and angled-sandpaper-wedge technique. the first time I let the neck get too far down into the mortise without realizing that my fit wasn't very good at all.

I was unhappy with the way my braces fit into the notches in my kerfed lining. so I removed all of the sections that had notches, glued new ones in, and re-cut the notches.

There are some good elements to it also, so I'll be really excited to string it up.

I did a pretty good job on the fretwork. I've done that before.

Mark Swanson says that it has a pretty good tone to it. i spent a lot of time on the bracing and located pictures of bracing on guitars that I liked, and tried to make mine look like them. then, I solicited professional opinions and made alterations based on those.

the neck's center line points right at the center line on the top, near the bridge. my lower bout is exactly 15" and the center line at that point on the top is exactly 7.5" away from each side.

my saddle and my second nut look really nice so far. the neck angle is even on both sides of the neck and is just about perfect.

my binding is really clean.

the peghead inlay looks kinda cool. and probably the best thing it's got going for it, is it's going to be finished by Joe. I'll learn about finish for my next one!

I used to set up guitars for a job, so I felt that if I got the box to be tight, I was home-free after that. little did I know, there was so much more to it, than that.

hopefully with a mixture of both good and bad, it'll be a nice guitar, but yet have that whole necessary life yin yang duality thing going on, as well.

Image

Image

Image

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:19 am 
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Koa
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Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:27 pm
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First name: John
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That is a very nice looking build. Glad to hear you were able to persevere and work through all of those problems.

If you feel like you need to add a significant number of items to your list.... go ahead and try finishing it yourself.... That will do the trick. My Ditson has several dog hairs under the finish from my own finishing attempts.

The funny thing about all these little quirks is that no one notices them until you point them out.... especially if your guitar plays well and sounds good.

Good luck

John


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:35 am 
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Brazilian Rosewood
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Sounds about par for the course especially on a first, great look'in guitar by the way.

Cheers

Kim


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 15, 2009 10:24 am 
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Cocobolo
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Thanks. There's another issue with it, I discovered after making this post! It's explained here: http://luthiersforum.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=10122&t=22708.

The guitar is at Joe's now, receiving a finish.

Image

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:14 pm 
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Not mistakes,learning experiences...........!!!!!

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 06, 2010 8:43 am 
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Cocobolo
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Last Name: Tulloch
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Good idea, keeping track of the mistakes you made on the 1st one. And thanks for sharing the list.

I'm on my second unit, and there's a list of mistakes for mine (# 1) too. But I'll not make them again on the second one....making those first mistakes very valuable learning tools.

Understanding all that I'm doing every step of the way , so that the I'm not just hoping the thing sounds good when I'm done....is, in addition to build quality primary goal now.

From the photos...it sure looks good.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:49 am 
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Cocobolo
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First name: Martin
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brazil66 wrote:
Good idea, keeping track of the mistakes you made on the 1st one. And thanks for sharing the list.

I'm on my second unit, and there's a list of mistakes for mine (# 1) too. But I'll not make them again on the second one....making those first mistakes very valuable learning tools.

Understanding all that I'm doing every step of the way , so that the I'm not just hoping the thing sounds good when I'm done....is, in addition to build quality primary goal now.

From the photos...it sure looks good.

Thanks. On the second guitar, I thought it would go easier. I'd just repeat what I got right, and avoid what I got wrong. Easy, right?

Uh, ... guess again! gaah ... laughing6-hehe

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:31 pm 
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Walnut
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Last Name: Pagliaro
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Martin,

As someone who is in the middle of my first build, I can very much relate!
There have been a few :D moments but there have mostly been wow7-eyes , oops_sign , gaah , and a few [headinwall] moments. It's reassuring to know that it is all part of the learning process!

Mike


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PostPosted: Mon Dec 13, 2010 10:14 am 
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Walnut
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Joined: Sun Dec 12, 2010 8:22 am
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Location: Syracuse NY
Status: Amateur
I'm taking notes.....


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:28 pm 
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Walnut
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Last Name: Rieselbach
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Thank you for posting this. It will help those of us who are getting started!


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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 8:51 am 
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If it is any consolation you will be able to make a booboo list on the 2nd also but it will be much shorter and hopefully will have no repeats of the same items. The theme of your list seems to be the message look ahead as you build to avoid most of these things. Wait until you hear it played it will be all worth it.

You are skipping another great learning experience farming out the finish, you could add a few more entries to the list. I find finishing the most satisfying but sometime frustrating part of the build but when I get compliments on the guitar I can be proud that even the shine is mine.

By the way you recovered well from your mistakes and have built a nice looking guitar that you will be proud of.

Fred

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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 11:55 am 
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Filippo Morelli wrote:
"A guitar looks hard to build. It is harder than it looks."


Funny...and true! oops_sign oops_sign oops_sign oops_sign oops_sign

I'm glad I didn't see this quote before I started my first build, or I probably would never have tried. [headinwall] gaah laughing6-hehe


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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 2:14 pm 
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Filippo Morelli wrote:
Martin,
My first guitar had two goals:
1) finish it
2) don't explode when it gets strung up



Amen!

Filippo Morelli wrote:
........... I wish we could find the attribution to this quote, "A guitar looks hard to build. It is harder than it looks."

Filippo


I've heard the quote, "Building a guitar looks hard, but it's harder than it looks" attributed to both Tom Buck and the late Rob Girdis.

Pat

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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 7:23 pm 
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Cocobolo
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First name: Martin
Last Name: Lane
City: Grand Rapids
State: Michigan
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Fred Tellier wrote:
If it is any consolation you will be able to make a booboo list on the 2nd also but it will be much shorter and hopefully will have no repeats of the same items. The theme of your list seems to be the message look ahead as you build to avoid most of these things. Wait until you hear it played it will be all worth it.

hi Fred,
you played this guitar in February, remember? Number two was completed last summer. I did french polish on it, and it turned out well.

here's a more recent pic. I'm really happy with this guitar now. I don't ever think about any of the flaws any more. it has become my daily player.

Image

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 1:38 pm 
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Koa
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Filippo Morelli wrote:
Martin,
My first guitar had two goals:
1) finish it
2) don't explode when it gets strung up

Honestly if you hit these two you've done well. Everything else can largely be chalked up to learning. I'm not sure you need to keep a list - that list gets burned into your brain (typically preceded by a loud, "aaaaarrgghhhh @$%#%!"-like sound ... :mrgreen: )

I wish we could find the attribution to this quote, "A guitar looks hard to build. It is harder than it looks."

Filippo


+1. And if you have to limit it to one goal, the first is the important one. laughing6-hehe
(some of us choose to blow up the first one, anyway)


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 27, 2011 8:46 pm 
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Sounds about par for the course especially on a first, great look'in guitar by the way.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:13 am 
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Walnut
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Quote:
hi Fred,
you played this guitar in February, remember? Number two was completed last summer. I did french polish on it, and it turned out well.

here's a more recent pic. I'm really happy with this guitar now. I don't ever think about any of the flaws any more. it has become my daily player


I hope I can have Wayne Henderson check out one of my guitars some day! Are you a friend of his enalnitrim?


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 10, 2011 8:40 pm 
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Cocobolo
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[AL] wrote:
Quote:
hi Fred,
you played this guitar in February, remember? Number two was completed last summer. I did french polish on it, and it turned out well.

here's a more recent pic. I'm really happy with this guitar now. I don't ever think about any of the flaws any more. it has become my daily player


I hope I can have Wayne Henderson check out one of my guitars some day! Are you a friend of his enalnitrim?


No, but I called him up and he said he'd be happy to have me visit. But then, so has every experienced maker I've yet asked, too. Still, he's a very nice guy.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:38 pm 
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+1. And if you have to limit it to one goal, the first is the important one.
(some of us choose to blow up the first one, anyway)


I built my first guitar before I had the benefit of the forum. It was a complete disaster, a total train wreck. I built a funeral pyre and layed it to rest. Not 1 thing was true on it; I expelled more expletives than a drunken sailor. It was a project that afforded me a chance to improve my sense of humor. My Walnut build is doing a little better.

Thanks,

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