"Kilometers are passing like kidney stones" – Bob Roll

Guitar Build – Clear Coat, Assembly, Wiring

June 11th, 2011 Posted in Guitar

We finally had a stretch of nice weather so I managed to get some clear coats on the body. I wasn’t sure how long the weather would last so I hit it with as many coats as I could manage per day. I think in the end I ended up with around 9 coats of clear lacquer.

Hanging out, off-gassing and curing in the sun:

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After letting the clear coats cure for three weeks I did a little wetsanding and polishing to finish it off. No pictures of this, use your imagination.

Then it was on to assembly. The body came pre-drilled with holes for the neck mounting screws, but the neck did not, which meant I had to locate and drill some holes in (hopefully not through)  the neck.

I don’t have any pictures of this process, but here’s what I did. I mounted the bridge, dry-fit the neck into the neck pocket and strung up the E and e strings. Using the strings as a visual guide I then made sure the neck was aligned properly. When I was happy with the alignment I clamped the neck in place, turned the whole thing over, stuck an appropriately sized drill bit through the holes in the body and marked the locations for the next step.

Then, to ensure I drill the holes in the neck the correct depth, I measure the thickness of the body at the neck pocket and the length of the neck mounting screws to calculate the depth that I need to drill for my pilot holes. I mark the drill bit with tape then clamp the neck into the drill press and drill four holes.

Next it’s as simple as screwing the neck to the body, after putting some wax on the threads to help ease the screws into the maple neck. This is almost looking like a guitar now. I couldn’t resist placing some parts on as a mockup:

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Next on the list is the wiring. I downloaded a wiring diagram from TDPRI and set to work on the controls. Hopefully no one that actually knows how to solder sees this picture and cringes at my blobby job:

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Then it was mounting the neck pickup. This again involved drilling pilot holes into the body for the mounting screws, so I brought out the calipers to takes some measurements…better safe than sorry. The pickup install goes smoothly.

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I then wire the pickups to the controls as per the diagram I downloaded. Before I screwed the control plate to the body, I figured I’d better check my wiring, so I string up a couple of strings and plug the guitar in to try it out. Not good. The neck position works, the middle switch position does nothing and the bridge position is very quiet. Damn. After a little investigation I find out that the diagram I used was for a vintage telecaster which uses a different swith than what I am using. Or something like that. All I know is it doesn’t work. So I download a different wiring diagram, desolder the switch and start again. This time was a success and after testing, everything works as it should

The final bits and pieces go on. The strap buttons, the control plate, pickguard and string trees all get installed after drilling pilot holes for all the screws.

I install a set of strings and do a quick set-up. Rough in the intonation using my cheap little tuner. It’s close enough for now. Then check the neck relief and adjust the action and play with the height of the pickups. All goes pretty well.

Done!!!

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