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Building a custom semi-hollow


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Hey guys, I've been around for a bit but I'm new to the forum.

 

Anyway, I've been working on building a custom semi-hollow guitar. I wanted something that I could really feel was mine, and I had just graduated college and I do a lot of electronics work, so I figured I could do something really cool. Went with Seymour Duncan Hot Rodded Humbuckers for pickups, Gotoh locking tunders and a Gotoh tune-o-matic bridge, a Bigsby B70 tremolo, as well as other minor choices. I was going to go for kind of a gold hardware on dark-greyish for color.

 

When I realized I screwed up was I completely overestimated my woodworking ability for the body.  I went through Guitar Fetish twice for the body, the first set I had was a 335 and it was alright. The neck was a disaster, but the body was okay. Anyway, I set the neck wrong and screwed up painting and well yeah it was unsalvageable. So I decided I'd just get another and learn from my mistakes. This time the neck was actually very nice when I got it, but the body was very poorly made. I set it right this time and after several hours of sanding and filling holes between the binding and the wood, I managed to get it looking okay enough to paint. The current paintjob I've got on it is acrylic lacquer auto paint and it just doesn't feel right for what I was going for. Getting the colors I wanted has turned out to be a bit harder than I expected. I could always strip it and refinish it, I was thinking something like this http://www.samash.com/limited-run-government-series-es-335-semi-hollow-body-electric-guitar-72-of-300-sn-g72of300x-p or maybe a little darker with a pattern for character http://www.woodbrass.com/images/woodbrass/ARISTIDES+020+GREY-2.JPG would have been great. Anyway, when I realized I really screwed up is that I don't have the right tools to do a good job drilling the holes I need for the bridge. I'm also terrible at things like this.

 

Basically, between my combined incompetence and the questionable quality of what I had to begin with, I'm thinking it might be a good idea to either get something cheap like an Ibanez AM73 that's known for quality that I could just strip down and replace, or I'd also like input on any custom shops people know of that could do a reasonable job on the body for a good price (I'd really like to spend <$300). At this point I'm kind of considering selfing it until I can afford something a bit more professional, because I really want it to be done right (and I've already got too many other guitars that play well).

 

Anybody here that is an experienced builder? I could use some definitely use some input at this point because it's apparent to me I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing now.

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If you've already got "too many other guitars that play well", then sell some and get yourself a really, really good guitar that does exactly what you want it to do.

A custom built guitar can always be a hit or miss.

From what I understand, you want a vintage type guitar.  Now I don't know what guitars are available in your hand and how much you can make out of selling them, but something in between vintage and modern, like a Suhr Tele that is semi-hollow and is fully koa might be an extremely good guitar for your case.

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If you've already got "too many other guitars that play well", then sell some and get yourself a really, really good guitar that does exactly what you want it to do.

 

A custom built guitar can always be a hit or miss.

 

From what I understand, you want a vintage type guitar.  Now I don't know what guitars are available in your hand and how much you can make out of selling them, but something in between vintage and modern, like a Suhr Tele that is semi-hollow and is fully koa might be an extremely good guitar for your case.

A big part of starting the build was really wanting to make something unique, at least as far as the electronics go that's something that's something I can definitely do. I just need a body that has a respectably quality and that seems to be something that's not easily found for a reasonable price, at least as far as semi-hollows go. At the same time, I can just buy an Ibanez and strip it down, I'll at least know the body is reasonably well-crafted, then I could strip and refinish as I see fit.

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I've built a guitar or two from kits, and then bult a number of basses based on purchased necks.

 

My first thought is that bolt on necks are suggested for beginners because they allow shims and adjustments to get the alignment perfect.  Set necks take much more effort to remove and repair.

 

My second though is that finishing is the toughest skill to perfect compared to the woodworking and electronics.

 

You may want to set these projects aside until you try assembling a kit build.  It may not the guitar of your dreams, but you will learn the skills to rescue the other two projects.

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I've built a guitar or two from kits, and then bult a number of basses based on purchased necks.

 

My first thought is that bolt on necks are suggested for beginners because they allow shims and adjustments to get the alignment perfect.  Set necks take much more effort to remove and repair.

 

My second though is that finishing is the toughest skill to perfect compared to the woodworking and electronics.

 

You may want to set these projects aside until you try assembling a kit build.  It may not the guitar of your dreams, but you will learn the skills to rescue the other two projects.

This was one of the things I was considering doing, there are reasonably priced kits for a 335, but I'm a bit worried about hit/miss quality of the wood, I just haven't checked to see if it measures the specs for the stuff I bought (it probably does). I've also been wanting a tele, and that's something that's much more available than 335 kits. But yeah, finishing was a pain in the ass, looking back I should have gone with stain instead of paint. Honestly, that's probably not a bad idea. If it's a good kit, I can put my hardware on it and throw the cheap hardware on other things I've got that need a little love. If it's not nice enough to put money into, I still know a few people that would be interested in it when I finish as long as it works.

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This was one of the things I was considering doing, there are reasonably priced kits for a 335, but I'm a bit worried about hit/miss quality of the wood, I just haven't checked to see if it measures the specs for the stuff I bought (it probably does). I've also been wanting a tele, and that's something that's much more available than 335 kits. But yeah, finishing was a pain in the ass, looking back I should have gone with stain instead of paint. Honestly, that's probably not a bad idea. If it's a good kit, I can put my hardware on it and throw the cheap hardware on other things I've got that need a little love. If it's not nice enough to put money into, I still know a few people that would be interested in it when I finish as long as it works.

 

You might want to look into a thinline tele kit. Get a tele body shape that's also a semi-hollow.

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Yo,

 

If you have the urge to work with your hands to make and instrument that truly fits you, then building your own instrument is never a waste of time, regardless what some folks may say.  I've made about 50 guitars and basses over the part ten years.  All from blank lumber - no kits.  To be frank though, expect the first several to be a bit rough until 1) you have developed the skills to take the idea in your head and carve it into a peace of wood and 2) you have experimented enough to know what fits you.   There is a number of forums, some very good ones on linkd-in of all places, that have a lot of good info and people willing to help out.

 

 

 

Don't give up.  Shoot a reply if you have any specific questions.

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Resale value on a custom built guitar is close to absolutely zero at this time and date. Nobody ever buys into those things because of the possibility of the thing being a hit or miss, another reason why I never condone people into it. I have my reasoning as to that.

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