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Building a guitar. Pt 2..

Building a guitar.

Rating: 6 votes, 2.17 average.
Not from scratch but by sourcing the parts and putting them together.

However, that is only part of the story. The intent is buy cheap parts (where possible) and age them so they look like a 1962 Fender Stratocaster. The process is known as 'relicing.' Relicing isn't just making something look old, it's has to look used. There's a lot of opinions on whether most reliced guitars are over done and look unrealistic. In that sense I have an advantage being the owner of a late 80's strat that I gigged over a hundred times, so I know what a well used guitar looks like.

The end product should look something like this (I'll add images later).. That one (a 62) belongs to 'John Frusciante' and would go for around £20.000.

So far I've managed to snag a neck for £50 which came with Kluson tuners already fitted, which is going to save me a few quid. The neck I've bought is already aged, but I'm going to have to make a decision on whether to strip it to relic it or just leave it as is. The front of the head stock I'm fairly sure will have to be stripped so I can add the Fender decals (which I got from a company in Spain for a fraction of the cost of the same set from the U.S. (postage and import costs from the U.S. are extortionate but some parts will have to come from there as they can't be bought anywhere else.

the one other purchase I've made is a neck plate. However the one I got isn't period accurate and will only serve as a temporary one until I see one for sale that doesn't cost over £15 (it's just a metal plate with four holes. I'd really prefer one that's already stamped and got outbid on one I saw on ebay, I could have gone higher, but I want to try and keep the whole build under £200.

I'm onto a 'loaded scratch-plate' which is already aged. Loaded means it has pick-up's and electrics included, it's from an old Squire (budget strat) so it looks good and I should get it pretty cheap. I'll likely swap out the five way switch and maybe the pots for better ones but they can be replaced fairly cheaply and as they can't be seen they're not a priority.

I'm also following a sunburst Squire body which is already a bit beat up but will need a lot of work to get it the way I want it.

The one thing I can't source cheaply is a relic bridge which is going to cost around £50. I could but a new one and a bottle of hydrochloric acid and do it myself (the fumes tarnish/rust the nickel plating), that would save around £20 but as this is my first go at this I don't want to be messing stuff up. I want the guitar to look the part but I want it to play and sound good too.

Once it's done I'll likely sell it for around £250, not much of a profit but that's really not the point.

I'll add pics and update as I go along..


Seems I can't edit the OP so..

What I'm aiming for [sort of]...

Progress was always going to be slow and at times held up by difficulties in getting parts. One thing that really tightens my, patience, is people who wait until the last seconds to try and gazump an Ebay purchase, but trying to keep my costs down means Ebay is a necessary evil.

The hardest thing to get was a body. I really wanted a sunburst finish (specifically a tobacco sunburst which is two tone and fades from black to yellow. Sadly these rarely come up (outside the US and remember those import charges!)... So I had a couple of bids in for what's called the cherry sunburst (three tones from black to red to yellow). Both of those bids were mercilessly stolen at the last second, one for more than I was prepared to go but the other for way less. I spent a couple of days seething to myself and decided the best way to get what I wanted was to buy a whole guitar..

I picked out a Squire 'affinity' stratocaster simply because it's the cheaper version of the guitar I'm building (as Squier are built by Fender many of the parts are interchangeable, if not as good quality).

So I got that for £70 - A great price for a 97' Japanese Squire. It's amazing how many people just don't know what they have in terms of guitars. Last week I contacted a guy who was selling a Japanese 57' reissue for £175 - that's a £500 guitar at the very least. I didn't have the money and buying it would have made this project pointless...

Any way... Ironically the owner had kept my new purchase in very good condition, as I picked it up in person I explained what I was going to do to it, he looked a little disturbed but handed it over regardless.

Any way. Of the purchases I made without any drama, the scratch-plate (loaded with electrics) turned up and I was very pleased with it. It has a nice aged look which isn't fake as It's from an 86' Japanese Squire which should give a pretty good sound, some parts (the five way switch especially) will have to be swapped out but even the original 'Oak Grigson' switch used on US strats are pretty cheap. The wiring is a bit hoaky and I'm going to have to take a better look at that.

The decal (headstock logo) also turned up, seems simple enough to apply but they're very very delicate and at £9 a pop I don't want to balls it up..


Poly put the kettle on.

Most, if not all, modern electric guitars are covered (finished) with polyurethane, a tough plasti-glass that doesn't age anywhere near as much as the old nitrocellulose finish. All well and good for guitar makers and distributors or the kind of player who likes their axe to look pristine as the day they bought it and have conniptions if it gets dinged or scratched. For those who don't mind their favorite guitar looking a bit banged up polyurethane is the work of the devil. Even more so for someone who wants to strip a guitar body to work on the colour in some way. It took about three hours of hard sanding to take the top layer f poly off this guitar, yeh I could have got a sander or a drill (and wrapped sandpaper round the end) but I didn't want that sander look where the wear is obviously artificial.

But first I had to take the guitar apart.

The next job was to sand all the poly off, being impatient and needing to vent during all the sanding I started chipping away at the paint as I was going.

You can see the finish is much duller and already looks older in the parts I haven't damaged. There's another much harder coating under the poly and on top of the paint, not sure what they use there but that stuff is, in my opinion, a much nicer looking material. The chips and dings are kind of fun to do. I've a lot of method from angle grinders, hitting with barbed wire and chains to dragging along behind a pick-up truck. Since I don't have the means for those methods I chose throwing various objects both sharp and blunt and chiseling with a mini crow-bar and a screw driver.

Once that was done the part I enjoyed most started. Aging the exposed wood areas and adding a dirty grubbiness to it. I'll go into that in the next update..

Updated June 12, 2015 at 09:39 AM by Halie Satanus

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  1. Flinn's Avatar
    interesting, subscribed

    I'm always eager to learn about handcrafed stuff
  2. Hitai de Bodemloze's Avatar
    What kind of music do you play, out of interest?
  3. Halie Satanus's Avatar
    I used to be in a band from the late 80's through to 2001. We started out as a hip-hop grunge type band and edged towards grunge/rock in the later years. To be honest I don't play much these days. I was pretty good for awhile but you lose the timing when you're not playing every day.
  4. Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar
    Sounds interesting, best of luck. :)
  5. Halie Satanus's Avatar
    UPDATED OP....
    Updated June 03, 2015 at 04:19 AM by Halie Satanus
  6. Aikanįr's Avatar
    ^You should be able to edit your blog by clicking at the pen on the right hand side of the title of a blog post.
  7. Halie Satanus's Avatar
    Ah right, no matter, adding posts is just as effective.. :)
  8. Aikanįr's Avatar
    It can be, yep. Also, interesting project, never thought about something like that. :hmm: Now I've to figure out how wifey might think about aging the piano ...
  9. Killerbee's Avatar
    Nice project, though personally I'm not the biggest fan of relics :). And is that Frusciante's strat you posted as example ?
  10. Halie Satanus's Avatar
    Aik - a piano..!!!! Hahaha.... Rather you than me.... Maybe start with something simpler, a chair or a stool..

    KB - I'll write a bit more about relic's as opposed to 'road worn' which, as this has gone on, I'm thinking there is a difference. I'll also stick up a pic of my #1 (Kirsty) which has served over 20 years and through 100's of gig's..

    And yes that is Frusciante's. I'm somewhere between that one and Mike Mccready's. I think I over did it a bit, it's a steep learning curve.
  11. Aikanįr's Avatar
    Hehe, yeah not hers but she said if I would be so kind to make the one of the girl from next door look used, she would be very gracious - meanwhile she pulled a sledgehammer from behind her back and gave it to me. I love my wife ;)
    Updated June 03, 2015 at 05:38 PM by Aikanįr
  12. Halie Satanus's Avatar
    Haha.. I used to live in a flat above a girl who was learning Saxophone. I often wondered whether a Saxophone would bounce, we lived on the forth floor..
  13. Halie Satanus's Avatar
    UPDATE> Part 3..
  14. GrnEyedDvl's Avatar
    Seems I can't edit the OP so..
    Near the end of the title of the blog should be a little pencil icon. Click that and it should let you edit. I checked and Divus has permission to edit their own blogs.

    Nice project btw!
  15. Halie Satanus's Avatar
    A'yup. I don't know how I didn't see that before, maybe all the sand dust in my eyes.. All good now..
  16. Halie Satanus's Avatar
    [SIZE=3][B]Part Four..[/B][/SIZE]


    [SIZE=3][B]Part Four..[/B][/SIZE]

    So the aging process for parts of the body I'd striped and done damage to. There are lots of ways to age wood, the simplest is to rub in coffee that's been sitting for a couple of days, so that was the method I tried. The problem was that it takes seconds to rub the coffee in and then 20 mins or so for it to dry before another application. This will work but gave a very uniform effect. So I had a look around my fairly large collection of art materials and picked out a box of '[URL=""]TomBoy[/URL]' acid free brush markers. I had several shades of brown/orange/beige which I thought would do the job. I found brushing them on fairly quickly and letting them dry for around 30 seconds then rubbing in with an old cloth worked really well. I managed to get various tones of staining/dirt which look pretty good.

    Sadly the pics don't show the details and tones to well.




    So far everything was going pretty well.

    While I was waiting for the bridge to turn up I decided to have a trial run in applying the decals (logos) to the head stock. The decals are incredibly delicate and being a bit of a gorilla I was expecting this part to go wrong. Decals are also expensive for what they are so I couldn't afford to many mishaps. The way they work is simple, same as those temporary tattoo's you can get for kids..

    First try went pretty well.


    Unfortunately I hadn't thought about the decals being so delicate even when they dried and managed to lose bits of the 'contoured body' part while working on other parts of the guitar. Doh..
    Updated June 12, 2015 at 09:42 AM by Halie Satanus
  17. Halie Satanus's Avatar
  18. Halie Satanus's Avatar
    All getting a bit frustrating.

    I can't add more than 4 images to a single post and can't post more than 10000 words in the OP... !
  19. Killerbee's Avatar
    [QUOTE][COLOR=#3E3427]Unfortunately I hadn't thought about the decals being so delicate even when they dried and managed to lose bits of the 'contoured body' part while working on other parts of the guitar. Doh..[/COLOR][/QUOTE]

    Isn't that kind of a good thing ? I mean you're aiming for a worn look so I'd say it's quite appropriate really :P

    Anyway seems like it's coming along nicely, curious to see the end result! Couldn't help but noticing the neck though. Is it just the angle and/or the lack of strings on it that makes it seem so fat ?
  20. Aikanįr's Avatar
    Blog's are different to threads in as much as that they are not expected to work like an OP. Simply create new posts in your Blog and choose the title as the reference.

    Edit: for clarification, I don't mean new posts in the commentary section, like you did here, but new posts on your blog desk.
    Updated June 13, 2015 at 09:34 AM by Aikanįr
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