Official Luthiers Forum!

Solely owned and operated by Lance Kragenbrink
It is currently Sun Mar 07, 2021 4:32 pm

All times are UTC - 5 hours

Forum rules

Be Nice to our new friends! Remember, everybody starts somewhere!

Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: First time assembly
PostPosted: Sat Jan 09, 2021 9:39 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:03 am
Posts: 2
Hi all.

This is my first post so hello to everyone. I’m a 65 year old guy from the UK who has barely done any woodworking other than putting up pre-cut shelves etc, but I’ve wanted to dip my toe into guitar assembly for a while and now that I have seem more time on my hands at the moment, it seemed like a good time to try and parts assembly seemed like a good way to start and I want to build a Strat - like guitar as a lockdown project, though I need advice and help. I am buying parts here and there so not really a comprehensive kit but still just sticking bits together so I assume this is the best place to post. If not maybe a mod could move it to somewhere more suitable. Even with something this simple, being really new to woodwork in general and guitar construction in particular I have loads of questions. I’m after an SSS configuration and I don’t want a tremolo so I’m looking for something like a Gotoh GTC102 Hard Tail Bridge

My problems are mainly around correctly fitting the bridge and the neck. I'll try and break these down clearly as there are so many.

Neck and bridge alignment
I’m assuming if I line this up with the (factory drilled ) string - through holes the bridge would be in pretty much the right place and that I would just check by measuring half the scale length from the 12th fret to to the middle saddle position. I assume that if the neck fits snugly into a perfectly - cut joint then all will be well but I’m guessing it might need nudged a little to ensure it lines up properly with the bridge before any additional holes are drilled in it to locate it correctly. So .... should I put the neck in the joint without screwing ( and maybe clamp it? ) and then check the bridge and neck alignment by holding the bridge in place and measuring at the 1st and 6th string? Am I barking up the wrong tree or is there a better, more accurate way to do this?

Bridge pilot holes.
I don't have a bench press or pillar drill so I might struggle with these especially as the Strat top is curved in places. I don’t know if it would be possible to use an ordinary jig to ensure perpendicular drilling?

The neck bolts.
I’m worried because it seems to me that once I have the neck lined up small errors in the positioning of these holes could have bad effects. I really could do with a walkthrough somewhere on how to get these accurately marked and drilled. I know they will go through the body and into the neck at the joint but I’m not 100% sure if these bolts are pointed and if I just push them through the body holes they will sharply and accurately mark the points I need to drill into the neck allowing me to drill with a high degree of accuracy. I also face the same problem regarding perpendicular drilling as I do with the bridge. I’m assuming it wouldn’t be a good idea to use the body holes as drilling guides as if they have a thread in them it might strip them and even if not, it might enlarge them?

The Nut
Last question is the nut. I am going to ask the neck supplier if they can fit and cut this for me but I’m not sure they will. This seems to be a tricky area and if there’s an idiots’ guide somewhere if you could link to it, I’d be grateful.

Actually this is the real last question. I intend to buy a plain Ash body and was going to use Danish oil instead of paint. Will this be enough on it’s own and I’m assuming I should apply this to the body and neck before fitting anything though I will probably fit the bridge and neck and drill the appropriate holes ( in case I need to mark anything with a pencil ) then remove the bridge and apply the oil.

Anyway these are my many thoughts and I’d appreciate any corrections and help you can give me.

Thank you very much for your help


 Post subject: Re: First time assembly
PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 1:01 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 11:06 am
Posts: 120
First name: Roy L
Last Name: Smith
City: Apache Junction
State: Az
Zip/Postal Code: 85119
Country: USA
Focus: Repair
Status: Amateur
quite a few questions, and I'm hardly the best person to address most of them, but for starters, don't drill holes until you've figured out a decent way to ensure they are perpendicular; expectr you know that. Even a small drill press would work. There are also a number of types of little jigs or fixtures that you have to drill thru forcing you to stay square. I dunno what they're called, but I have one my father-in-law used that had a rotary multi-size drill hole plate so it was useful for different size bits. I would hesitate to hand drill without using it.

Exact alignment of holes you drill for the neck will work pretty well if you are using brad point drill bits and have the neck clamped exactly where you need it before you try to mark anything. Then use the drill bit (exactly the same size as the hole you are trying to match) as a marker, mebbe take the neck off and do it again. If the pilot holes are all the same, you should be able to proceed with drilling. Or make your own marker from the same size bolt as the hole diameter, and point the end. Easiest with a grinder, but you could just chuck it up in your hand drill and point it against a file.

Hopefully by now you have found another source for starter woodworking questions that let you proceed with some confidence. Good luck. Roy

 Post subject: Re: First time assembly
PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2021 4:22 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 1:46 pm
Posts: 1948
First name: Freeman
Last Name: Keller
Focus: Build
Status: Amateur
Hi Wooster, welcome to the crazy world of putting guitars together. Before I get to your specific questions I'm going to make a couple of suggestions

First, get Melvyn Hiscock's book on making your own electric guitar. He is due to have a new one out any day now but there have been many many guitars built from the present one. He will answer many questions you haven't even thought of yet.

Second, this forum isn't the most active for assembling the kind of guitar you are thinking about. Consider going over to the Telecaster discussion forum and lurk (and post) on their DIY subforum. Your questions are asked almost every day - you will find lots of answers

Your specific questions are a bit difficult to answer without some more information. Have you bought the neck and body? Did you get them from the same source? Is the body drilled for the neck screws? And it sounds like your are using a string thru body bridge with the hole pre drilled.

Assuming that your body is drilled, you just have to trust that they did it right. I can send you a link so you can check the hole spacing. My preference is that the neck not be drilled, what I would do is put the neck in the pocket and clamp it (screw if it is drilled) and yes, check the geometry at this point. Put the bridge in place and check three things

Put a straight edge on each side of the neck and see where it extends over the saddles - it should be over the E string saddles an equal amount on each side. If it is not loosen the strings or clamp and wiggle it until you get it center.

Move the E string saddles as far forward as they will go. Now measure from the face of the nut to the saddle - the break point of the saddle should be at 25.5 inches (the "uncompensated scale length"). You always add some distance to the scale length when you "compensate" for sharpening so you will never need to go farther forward - this will give you the maximum adjustment.

Third thing is to adjust the saddles as low as they will go and lay a 36 inch straight edge on the frets. It should be just touching the tops of the saddle. Again, the argument is that you will never adjust below this point when setting the action and with most bridges you will have adequate adjustment.

If any of those things don't line up correctly it is best to take a picture and post it here (or at TDPRI) and get advice - I'm happy to help with this.

Drilling the bridge thru holes without a drill press is tricky but can be done. My preferred method is to use the plate of the bridge itself - screw it on the top of the guitar and drill the outside holes all the way thru holding the drill as perpendicular as possible. Be very careful of chip out when the bit exits. Drill the other holes half way thru. Take the bridge of and put it on the back, use two drill bits (or wooden dowels) to locate it using the two holes that go thru. Drill the others meeting up with the ones from the top at the mid point. It is much easire with a drill press (pillar drill) - if you can find a wood working friend who can help by all means buy him a pint.

Same thing with the neck screws - if the body is drilled but the neck is not, then clamp is carefully in place (check the geometry per above) and insert a bit that just fits the hole. Tap with a hammer to transfer the centers to the neck . Now drill with the correct size bit for the screw, it will be smaller than the body hole (I'll go out to my shop and look up the sizes). Once again, I find this easier using the drill press but even that is hard because the fretboard isn't flat and wants to rock while you are drilling. I've got some pictures that show this if you confirm that your neck will not be drilled.

Many after market necks come with a nut. They are almost always too tall, but that is better than too short, You can file the slots down as you do the setup. You can also buy preshaped nuts from many of the lutherie supply houses. I simply make my own and can talk your thru it if your supplier does't include one

As far as finish goes, there are as many types of finish as there are guitar builders. Oil finishes are popular because they require no special equipment and are not toxic. Other popular finishes include a gun stock oil called TruOil (its slightly harder than some of the furniture oils) and some people are using wipe on poly finishes from hardware stores. The cardinal rule of any finishing operation is to practice on scrap, ideally of the same wood (maybe your supplier can furnish some scraps).

I'm going to give a couple of links to things I've written - maybe they will help. Here is a scratch built telecaster - you can see the sections on checking geometry and scale, drilling neck holes and some of the other things you ask. Lots of woodworking pictures too ... ng.884657/

This is about setting up the guitar but there is a section on nuts

Let me know if I can help further. And whatever you do, enjoy this experience

These users thanked the author Freeman for the post: wooster (Mon Feb 01, 2021 10:37 am)
 Post subject: Re: First time assembly
PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 9:30 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 09, 2021 2:03 am
Posts: 2

Thank you both for your help which I really appreciate. I have been mulling this project over for some time and doing a bit of reading while I summon up the courage to start. My main worry apart from lack of experience is lack of tools, particularly a bench press but as I will have the string through holes pre-drilled it's just the neck and bridge holes I need to worry about and I'm looking into alternative jigs.

Freeman, it was suggested I post on here by someone in the UK woodwork forum (which i joined to ask a real noob question about strap locks), though I quickly realised my questions weren't the most appropriate for here and so I actually posted in the Tele forum a couple of days after I put this up here and you very kindly replied there. I use my first name there - willie45 - and so please accept my apologies for causing you to post twice. However, your post above is extremely helpful and condenses everything into simple steps which is exactly what I need so thank you for your extremely generous help.

The neck is not drilled but the body is and has string through holes and neck socket holes already done. I'm hoping this will simplify the process a little but your suggestions for adjusting the geometry are brilliantly helpful.

I will need to source all the hardware and the nut myself including screws so size suggestions would be most helpful for the neck bolts, drill bits to use etc.

I will revert to the TDPRI forums to avoid duplication but this has been very helpful :-)

Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 4 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
phpBB customization services by