Building A Stratocaster from an Inexpensive Kit

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by wajobu, Jan 31, 2015.

  1. wajobu

    wajobu Supporting Member

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    I have a friend who builds mostly acoustic guitars from scratch, beautiful pieces and occasionally he builds some electric guitars and modifies inexpensive finds with upgraded pick-ups, etc.

    After Thanksgiving, I noted to him that I needed a winter project (something to do indoors at my workbench when the weather is too nasty outdoors). I occasionally build small audio electronics projects, so he suggested I try a kit for an electric guitar. A few days later he jabbed me in the ribs holding his phone with a photo of a kit at the Guitarfetish website…even better they were having their Black Friday sale. The price was right and despite a number of reviews on youtube noting they weren't worth the money I decided to give it a try. The first photo is the box of parts that arrived at my house. After watching a bunch of youtube videos on assembling the kit, doing some reading on finishing, getting advice from my friend and having one abysmal paint failure, I've mostly completed the kit (a lightweight Stratocaster) and despite its initial rough body shape, it sanded-up AOK and it sounds pretty darned good, even with the stock components. I used spray cans for both the paint and lacquer coats, then used some Meguiar auto finish products to hand buff the finish to a pretty decent gloss. At some point I can upgrade components if I decide to do that.

    Could I have purchased a completed guitar for less? You bet, but I mostly had fun and learned a few things along the way. I had some issues with some of the screws breaking, but overall I say it was a success and a very satisfying project!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. bgmacaw

    bgmacaw Member

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    Nice work. I built a Carvin Bolt kit about 18 years ago and it was a lot of fun. It's still one of my most played guitars.

    A few questions...

    What paint did you use (brand, etc)? What was your "abysmal paint failure"? The problem I had staining the Carvin was that our basement was too cold and damp and the initial coat didn't do well.

    How did you handle cutting and shaping the headstock? This is the thing that concerns me the most about these kits. My eyesight isn't all that good these days and I've never had a steady hand with saws.

    How are the electronic components on the kit? Are they "good enough" or are they subpar?

    How are the hardware components? You mentioned breaking screws.
     
  3. Drak

    Drak Supporting Member

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    You did a GREAT job on that, looks fantastic from here!
     
  4. wajobu

    wajobu Supporting Member

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    The first paint failure was my fault (live and learn). I was using a Rustoleum paint suitable for wood and compatible with their lacquers…problem was, I didn't get the memo on starting with light coats of lacquer before the "building" coats. I watched some more youtube videos and LEARNED MY LESSON! I sanded the entire body down again and re-primed it. My friend nudged me to change my original blue color to sea foam green, which is from Re-Ranch and then I used the original Rustoleum lacquer…two separate rounds of coats and then sanding and then re-coating. Yes, temperature can be a factor too. I cut the headstock with a hand jigsaw after creating a template for the layout, then I filed and sanded once it was cut. The electronics SEEM OK, but they are definitely NOT top shelf, same for the stock hardware, passable for now. Where I had issues with screws (despite pre-drilling) was with the headstock--HARD maple and relatively cheap plated screws. I might end up drilling them out and using something better, but for now it's all good.

     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2015
  5. wajobu

    wajobu Supporting Member

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    Thanks!

     
  6. HoboMan

    HoboMan Silver Supporting Member

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    Very cool.
    Love the color.
    The finish looks as good as a Fender finish.
     
  7. simonf

    simonf Member

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    That looks great!! Its not always cheaper but i really enjoy the process of putting together a partscaster.
     
  8. wajobu

    wajobu Supporting Member

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    Here's a quick little two-track thing I did last night on this Strat, one take each track, no overdubs or processing. The signal chain is: Stratocaster clone > Rockett Blue Note OD > Lovepedal Beardsman Dual Chorus > Catalinbread Belle Epoch Delay > Caroline Guitar Co Kilobyte Delay > Flux Effects Liquid Ambience Reverb > Mojotone 5F1 clone amp > Zoom H4n.

    https://soundcloud.com/wajobu/stratocaster-experiment-021915
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2015
  9. Baxtercat

    Baxtercat Member

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    Beautiful.
    I'm here to say my Saga kit Strat is my fave player, and I have a herd of Strats over here, inc. my 1st..a '63.
     
  10. Juan Tuthri

    Juan Tuthri Supporting Member

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    Awesome job man!

    Excellent headstock :banana
     
  11. Twangcat

    Twangcat Member

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    Really nice job! I've assembled two partscasters over the years, a standard T style and the other a "Lesquire" T-style neck on a LP shaped body with a single TV Jones Classic at the bridge. I spec'd them out with good hardware and electronics and am really happy with their distinct tones and playability. I enjoy both working on guitars and playing them, and these kinds of projects check both boxes in a big way. Very satisfying, mistakes, learning curve and all.

    Enjoy your new guitar!
     
  12. wajobu

    wajobu Supporting Member

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    Thanks everyone!
     
  13. kleydj13

    kleydj13 Member

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