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Kit qaulity
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Author:  mark4583 [ Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Kit qaulity

I'm looking at these kits and I realize they are what they are, a kit like a Les Paul is not going to be the quality of a Gibson, not even close, but just on a scale of 1-10 , 10 being best, what would you give on average of the quality would be if the 10 was a Epiphone Les Paul , just so I know what to expect, I'm thinking these might be a good starting point to learn with, thanks

Author:  Barry Daniels [ Fri Nov 03, 2017 6:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kit qaulity

Which kits?

Author:  Freeman [ Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:52 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kit qaulity

Barry Daniels wrote:
Which kits?

And, not to be insulting, how good are you as a builder?

Author:  Freeman [ Fri Nov 03, 2017 8:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kit qaulity

I'm going to add one slightly off topic comment - I have had three new Les Pauls on my bench lately - a 2017 Standard, a 2015 Classic and a fairly new (don't know the exact year) Epi New Standard. The Epi was by far the best of the three. The Gibsons both had serious QC issues from the factory.

Author:  Chris Pile [ Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kit qaulity

Kits are not built. They are assembled.

Author:  Hesh [ Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kit qaulity

Freeman wrote:
I'm going to add one slightly off topic comment - I have had three new Les Pauls on my bench lately - a 2017 Standard, a 2015 Classic and a fairly new (don't know the exact year) Epi New Standard. The Epi was by far the best of the three. The Gibsons both had serious QC issues from the factory.

And some of you get offended when I refer to G*bson and G*bson. Just like Freeman what we see from G*bson these days and for years now is utter, unadulterated crap with major issues with the fret planes. The robo tuners don't work well and look terrible and over all the build quality looks like my first.....

I've seen only one Les Paul kit and was impressed with the quality however it had a bad neck. The neck had so very much forward bow that the rod could not over come it. The maker of the kits was not going to take it back when our client, an old guy had glued the neck in the pocket before he knew the neck was toast. We advocated for him with the kit company owner who didn't like the pressure from us and personally "big mouth on the forums your truly....." but then reluctantly offered to exchange the kit and make our client whole. The entire return process burned a month.

So be sure to inspect the neck quality BEFORE gluing it in place if you get one of these kits, I'm not going to mention names as part of my promise that I wouldn't if the guy exchanged it for our client and he did.

Author:  Freeman [ Sat Nov 04, 2017 10:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kit qaulity

Hopefully Mark will come back and point us to a link to the kit he is considering.

Author:  mark4583 [ Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kit qaulity

I was asking more in general, but ive seen ... US_Catalog and more expensive ones like ... -%20(Exact)&utm_term=guitar%20build%20kit&utm_content=Kits%20Build%20Guitar&kwid=27092085957x2724441858x72359177 I have never built a Guitar, but I have been doing wood working for about 40 yrs now,, I play and was browsing through these forums and thought that it might be fun to do, thx

Author:  Barry Daniels [ Sat Nov 04, 2017 11:41 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Kit qaulity

Martin kits are good. The tomtop LP kit looks like crap. Totally different guitars though. So do you want to build an acoustic or an electric.

Author:  Freeman [ Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kit qaulity

Thanks Mark. You have linked to two very different guitars and kits, I'll try to comment on each of them separately. First, a small bit about me - I have been playing guitars for quite a few years and building them for about 12. I started with a acoustic kit somewhat like the one in your MF link - it remains my daily player. The Martin kit is very similar to many available from different domestic suppliers - including several who support this forum. These include Martin themselves (you can buy directly from them), Stewart McDonald, Blues Creek Guitars, LMII and others.

The materials in all of these kits is the highest quality - it is the same stuff that Martin builds their guitars out of. The one you linked would be very similar to a D-21 or D-28 when you finished (depending on the binding and finish). To go back to your first post and use Martin as 10, the materials in this kit are also a 10.

Building an acoustic guitar kit is not trivial. The big advantage of a kit over scratch building is that the difficult tasks, the ones you can really screw up, are mostly done for you. Things that require special tools or techniques, including thicknessing the plates, bending the sides, mitering the fretboard, rough shaping the neck and bridge. These are frequently called "serviced kits", another option is an "unserviced kit" where you get all of the woods and materials but the sides are not bent and the neck may not be shaped (allowing you a chance to do them).

There are some very tricky steps that are not done for you - setting the neck angle (I'll come back to this), routing the binding channels, applying the finish. The Martin kit uses a dovetail neck joint, an elegant traditional wood working joint that can be a nightmare for the first time builder. One recommendation that I would make is to build a bolt on neck guitar for your first one (StewMac, LMII). Binding will require a small router and some special bits - that is really the only power tool necessary to build a kit besides a drill motor.

Finish is one of the bugaboos of home guitar construction. We simply cannot duplicate factory finishes. We can get close, but once again, if Martin's finish is 10, expect yours to be 5 or 7 maybe. We can discuss finish options if you want to pursue that.

Most of these kits require you to install the frets. That is a tedious task that can make or break the playability and will require some special tools. I happen to be anal about the condition of frets and feel that most new guitars (including Martin) can use a little work. If my standard is 10, Martin might be a 9 and you can be anywhere from 5 to 10.

Setup and playability is another part of the building process. You will learn how all of the parameters (relief, nut and saddle action, intonation) work and you will get an opportunity two adjust them to exactly how you want the guitar to play. Again, I think that most new guitars can use a little work here - so if Martin is 9, you can be 5 to 10.

If you have a normal small shop with most hand tools, you'll still need to buy some clamps, a couple of good chisels, some fretting and setup tools, the binding router bits, and some other odds and ends. This can add up - your tool costs can be several hundred dollars or more.

Here is another kit source that includes both dovetail and bolt on options as well as a couple of different wood choices ... r_Kit.html

For a good idea of what you are getting into, here are the instructions

And here is my first guitar build, a rosewood 000 sized guitar kit that I still play today


Author:  Freeman [ Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:33 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kit qaulity

OK, now for the other option - the "Les Paul" kit.

There are several ways I can approach this. First, there are several of these kits available on the internet - one company is DIY Kits, several others. Typically the cost in the $200 range or so - lets use that as our first evaluation. When I build a Les Paul clone I frequently end up with 800 or more in materials alone. A set of tuners cost me $75, the bridge and tailpiece another $75. Decent quality pickups can be 100 or more each, wiring components 25 or so. A nice hunk of flamed maple for the top might be 100 - you should be getting the idea. For what I pay for the pups alone you get the whole guitar.....

These kits vary from model and importer, but in general they are sourced in China and the materials may very from decent to garbage (definitely stay away from any made of bass wood). I have never seen a Chinese neck that didn't need work - the frets are frequently terrible. Some of these have set M&T necks (like a Lester), some have screw on necks (like a Fender) - the success of your build will depend on the quality of that joint (Hesh has alluded to that already). This kit requires you to drill the holes for the ToM bridge and tailpiece - that is an advantage as you can adjust its location based on the way the neck sets.

As before, you will need to do the finish and the setup. Assuming the neck and geometry is OK, setup will require some special tools. If we use your Epi Les Paul as the standard, here is my evaluation of this kit

Wood - Epi (10), kit 5 - 6
Hardware, electronics - Epi (8), kit, 2
Neck joint - Epi (10), kit 2 - 10
Finish - Epi (10), kit - whatever you want to make of it, but probably 5-6
Frets - Epi (8), kit 5, but if you do a a good job, 10
Setup - Epi (9), kit 5 - 10

Frankly, I would run from this as fast as I could

Author:  Freeman [ Sat Nov 04, 2017 12:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kit qaulity

Another option if you truely want to build a Les Paul kit.

I have not actually built one of these but every review is good. Note that by the time you bought the body and neck, then all the hardware and electronics you'll be at 800 or more, just as my scratch built LP's, but I think the quality will be right up with your Epi. You still have the finish dilemma and will have to do the neck set and setup but I think you stand a much better chance of success.

And if you have any curiousity about home building a LP from scratch, here is how I did mine ... 1/1104633-

Author:  mark4583 [ Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kit qaulity

Thanks for the info, I'm just using these 2 kits as a example, not sure what I would do 1st, but I kind of lean towards acoustics when I play. But it looks as though I can end up with a fairly decent guitar and not something you would make and play a few times then give to the kids to tear up.. as far as tools other than any specific ones I may need I am pretty well set up for doing most anything I want.. Thanks again for the info, going to be a bit before I decide what I want to do, I just had shoulder surgery, so I'm not going to be doing a lot for now I'm just doing the research and getting as much info as I can before I start.

Author:  Freeman [ Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Kit qaulity

Let us help in any way we can - I've gone from total newbee building my first kit to some fairly involved scratch builds. I get closer all the time to actually calling myself a luthier.

There is a forum dedicated just to kit building, you might want to browse there

Warning, it is owned and moderated by a guy whose business is selling kits based on Martin products but he is a great guy and has lots of really good information both on the forum and on his website. This happens to be an OM sized 12 string build from parts from him, including a Martin 12 string neck.


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