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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 9:26 am 
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Walnut
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Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2014 9:18 am
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First name: Michael
Last Name: Avant
City: Tuscaloosa
State: AL
Zip/Postal Code: 35401
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Hello all,

Hope you are having a good Friday so far. New to the forum here, but I've begun some work on a GFS ES335 kit and wanted some feedback, tips, pointers, etc. I am loving the process of making kit guitars and see myself doing more in the future.

So here goes. Got the ES335 kit two weeks ago, cost me $199 + shipping. Took "forever" to arrive (forever = 6 business days.) From reading other forums (and owning a PRS McCarty) I knew immediately I was going to scrap most of the hardware and all of the electronics. (Maybe ebay a few, make $5 or so, who knows.)

The kit was ok out of the box. Overall quality is not great at all. All of the routed holes seemed VERY rough though the veneer. A file made quick work of them though. Lots of glue spots all over. Had so sand a lot of glue off the bindings (neck and body.) Sanded all the surfaces with 220grit to begin with.

The neck pocket was what I was most worried about. It was snug, buuuuuut there was still a little left-to-right play in it. Not more than a degree or two, but that can mean a lot in the end. (to be addressed later...)


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Last edited by mavant4 on Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:28 am, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 9:45 am 
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Walnut
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First name: Michael
Last Name: Avant
City: Tuscaloosa
State: AL
Zip/Postal Code: 35401
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Ok so a few things...

#1 I knew I wasn't going to stain this guitar.

#2 I'm not a big fan of 4 control knobs unless it's on a Les Paul.

So I decided on a blue metallic-flake finish for this guitar, along with one toggle, one volume, and one tone knob. (plan to wire this sum-gun split coil later.)

Even though I'm not staining it, I sanded it and added two coats of sanding sealer, then sanded to 440 lightly. NEXT was to do the headstock before attaching the neck to the body. How? Template baby, template.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 9:53 am 
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Walnut
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Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2014 9:18 am
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First name: Michael
Last Name: Avant
City: Tuscaloosa
State: AL
Zip/Postal Code: 35401
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Used a clamp and a jigsaw to do the primary cut on the heads-stock.

Oh wow. Lemme tell you. The first cut was so wonky, so horrible, so asymmetrical, I almost launched the whole neck over my fence into the neighbors yard and scrapped the project. It was SO bad I didn't take a picture of it. It was bad.

Did I mention it was bad?

But, I regrouped, went to the Home Depot, and got a small round file. And I began to file. And file, and sand. And sand and file. And filed some more. Lots of filing. Lots of sanding. Sots of fanding, and fots of liling. And eventually....


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:06 am 
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Walnut
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Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2014 9:18 am
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First name: Michael
Last Name: Avant
City: Tuscaloosa
State: AL
Zip/Postal Code: 35401
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Now, I'm going to rant a bit here. I'm not a huge fan of FOUR control knobs. Aesthetically it may look nice (I wouldn't want a Les Paul without it) but practically its just BLARG to me. My personal philosphy is, if you are a regular fiddler with all four knobs, ie if you use them all regularly, you are incapable of finding happiness or satisfaction. But that's just me.

So what to do with those two "unnecessary" control knob routes that came in the body. Went back to the Home Depot for a few things, but got a paint stirrer while I was there. I cut two rough circles out of them and then glued them on the INSIDE of the body, under the routes. Had to tape them in place while they dried but it came out nicely.

Once dried, I broke out the DAP plastic wood filler. (Remember, NOT staining this guitar.) Filled. Dried. Sanded.

And I was happy with the results.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:09 am 
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Walnut
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Joined: Fri Jun 06, 2014 9:18 am
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First name: Michael
Last Name: Avant
City: Tuscaloosa
State: AL
Zip/Postal Code: 35401
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Okay, so after working like hEll on the headstock and filling the control routes, it was time to glue the neck to the body. After reading several forums, I decided the best way to git er done was to go ahead, put the bushings in for the tailpiece and the bridge, put on two of the tuning machines, and string up the low and high E strings. Now, i didn't string them up super tight or try to get them in tune or anything. Just enough that everything was STRAIGHT and EVEN as possible.

I used Gorilla WOOD glue (not the other Gorilla glue). Slathered it up. Set it. Clamped it. Wiped off the seepage. I know a lot of people swear by Titebond II, but I had the Gorrilla wood glue, and honestly, didn't want to make another trip out.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:12 am 
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Walnut
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First name: Michael
Last Name: Avant
City: Tuscaloosa
State: AL
Zip/Postal Code: 35401
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Let the neck set over night. Everything seemed to harden up nicely. I think I should have adjusted the truss rod a bit before I attached it to the body. The neck is mostly flat, maybe a little bowed out. But we will see a little later when it's time to adjust the action and all. But then...

Primed!

I used Duplicolor sandable primer I got from the autoparts store. A couple of coats, then some 440 sanding, then another coat.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:18 am 
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Walnut
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First name: Michael
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City: Tuscaloosa
State: AL
Zip/Postal Code: 35401
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Priming and sanding came out nicely. On to paint.

This is also Duplicolor brand. Blue metallic-flake paint. Looks like it is 'color changing, but it just kinda depends on the light. I am happy with it so far.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 10:23 am 
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Walnut
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First name: Michael
Last Name: Avant
City: Tuscaloosa
State: AL
Zip/Postal Code: 35401
Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Soooo, a few snags.

Was TOO excited about how the paint was coming, and ended up with some nice DEEP fingerprints on the neck near the headstock. I was able to sand down and re-paint them and they are effectively gone.

Next, I thought I would go for BLACK on the sides of the guitar, but with the white binding, I ended up hating it. Had to sand it all off. Going to do the blue all the way around. Now I am re-masked and ready to re-prime and re-paint this weekend.

Still lots to do, but I am satisfied with most my efforts thus far.

Please! Tips? Suggestions? Comments? All that would be helpful.

Updates to follow.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 1:23 pm 
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Looking great!
I've hacked together a few kits. Is the top solid, or is it covered with a thin veneer?
I sanded through the veneer on my first kit.
Will you use the kit pickups or get something different?
I have used many GFS pickups and they seem ok, but I don't have a quality amp.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 6:21 pm 
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Walnut
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First name: Michael
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City: Tuscaloosa
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Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Thin thin thin veneer. Hand sanding only on this kit.

Once I get everything set up, if the action and the intonation is good I think I am going to do a Setmour Duncan Seth Lover for the neck and a Pearly Gates on the bridge.

Who knows...


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 6:45 pm 
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Don't sand. Use a scraper or chemical stripper. Sandpaper is for removing wood, not finish.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 7:16 pm 
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Walnut
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First name: Michael
Last Name: Avant
City: Tuscaloosa
State: AL
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Country: United States
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
This kit came unfinished. I gave it a good light sanding all over.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 9:23 pm 
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This kit came unfinished. I gave it a good light sanding all over.


No kidding. It was already sanded, you didn't need to sand it further.
And after you put a finish on it, you STILL didn't need to sand it.
You remove a thin finish properly with strippers, or scrapers.
Do you grasp my point yet?

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 7:11 am 
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Thanks for the advice.

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These users thanked the author mavant4 for the post: Nick Royle (Sat Jun 07, 2014 8:27 am)
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 9:18 am 
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Okay, Michael, you found out about the need for patience with those prints in the neck finish. I've done stuff like that, too. I expect several readers have. Just remember the lesson. Please do heed the advice about sanding from this point forward.
I have also sanded through veneer in my less cautious days. It would be a shame to goof up now. You will probably level sand your finish before polishing it, but try to avoid it otherwise. I think you'll turn this kit into a real cool guitar. Keep the progress pics coming. I'm rooting for you.
Patrick


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 07, 2014 3:54 pm 
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Walnut
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First name: Michael
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Remasked the sides and primed them this morning. Stuck at mother-in-laws for the weekend. Hope to base coat the sides and do a little touch up late tomorrow. Let it set for a day or so. Then... lacquer like I know her.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:11 pm 
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Aaaaannnnndddd it's raining....


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:15 pm 
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First name: Michael
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But while I'm thinking of it... a question.

Before I remasked everything I was looking at the neck. I was pleased with the cleanness of the binding next to the neck color, but of course, after painting it there is a very slight "lip" where the paint ends and the binding begins.

When it comes time to lacquer it, what's the best way to tackle that lip?

Suggestions?


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 5:42 pm 
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Aren't you using lacquer now for color?

Forget the tape. Use a scraper or razor blade to remove the color on the binding using little pressure. When you are ready to clear it will all look great, with no ridge.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 5:59 pm 
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No. The blue metallic flake is my base color. When that is done, going to clear coat it.

I just didn't know of a good way to get the lacquer on the neck binding without getting it all over the fretboard. If that makes sense...

I will attempt a pic to illustrate tomorrow.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 6:03 pm 
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Or to better explain: I taped off the fretboard and the neck binding prior to prime and paint. So there is a slight ridge between the color on the neck and the binding.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 8:35 pm 
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The normal procedure is to scrape the binding back to the plastic, then simply spray your clear coats. Most of the time the primer and color coats should be very thin - you shouldn't have much of a lip where you scrape and the clear should cover it OK. Btw - be very sure that your lacquer clear coats are compatible with the color - I haven't used Duplicolor but I know they have several different formulations. As always, practice on scrap.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:58 pm 
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Quote:
No. The blue metallic flake is my base color. When that is done, going to clear coat it.

I just didn't know of a good way to get the lacquer on the neck binding without getting it all over the fretboard. If that makes sense...

I will attempt a pic to illustrate tomorrow.


OK, now I get it. You are using the wrong terminology for finishes. Clear doesn't just mean lacquer - lacquer comes in colors, ya know. In fact, all I ever shot was lacquer - all colors, AND clear.

What is your base color? Lacquer, poly, acrylic urethane, what?
If you don't know, look at the can or call your finish dealer.
It MATTERS.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:55 am 
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 09, 2014 6:55 am 
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Gotcha. Yeah in my mind, lacquer = clear coat. Paint/stain = color. Sorry for the confusion.

Looked at the can and it doesn't say what it is (enamel or whatever.) Looked at the Duplicolor website and it doesn't say. Going to take some more digging.

I WAS able to work up the sides last night. Pulled off the tape this morning. VERY pleased. Not perfect, but it looks pretty darn good to me. The first time I "messed up" the sides when I painted them black I was using blue 3M painting tape. This time I was using the green Frog tape. Night and day difference. Loved the frog tape. Very little bleed. Nice lines. Might have to scrape the binding just a tad.

Today I'm going to mask the sides/binding back up and give the top and bottom a last touch-up spray. Then depending on what I find out about the base color, clear coat begins.

Headstock? Still a mystery to me. It will be black, just not sure about a "logo" yet or how to go about it.




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