Tag Archives: guitar kit

Guitar Retrospective #11: “HB Adventure Strat”

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It’s been awhile since I posted a guitar retrospective. There are still quite a few to go to get caught up to present times, so here we go!

This guitar started life back in early 2008 as a guitar kit. I had been looking into other means of obtaining guitars to refinish and after doing several Squier strats (“Wild Horses”, “Koi Flower”, “Miartisme”) I wanted to try these kits I had been reading about. I had done an LP style guitar from a Saga kit before, but I had tracked down some strat and tele style electric guitar kits made by Grizzly, which was a big woodworking and metalworking machinery company that had a local store, so I was able to go and pick a few up to try out. It wasn’t a typical place you would think to find guitar kits. Turns out the owner of Grizzly was a luthier himself, who made some pretty amazing guitars, so he offered these kits and other guitar parts through his company. You can still get guitar parts there, but it appears the kits are no longer available. It was your standard electric guitar kit, decent body and neck, with a blank headstock (the stratocaster and telecaster style headstocks are copyrighted by Fender so couldn’t be reproduced and sold), and probably lower end hardware and electronics.

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I remember the reason I wanted to try guitar kits was because you started with a complete guitar, and the body was a blank canvas, you didn’t have to do any work to strip it down before you could refinish it. But it was wise to do a rough assembly of the guitar to make sure everything fit together ok, so there wouldn’t be any fun surprises at the end.

For the finish, I had this cool looking green fabric, I don’t even know how to describe it. If I were to free associate I would use words like; Celtic, hippie, natural, earthy, lavender, forest, green, free, peace, love, unity. I felt it was a great opportunity to use on one of these strats, and it really worked out for getting a good placement on the guitar to maximize the graphic element and still remain a cool subtle look. I started with the front and decided to finish the back with fabric also, with a more subdued section of the print, but it works to keep continuity. Here are some shots of the process. Pretty simple with this one, used the standard material finish process I’ve come to know: glued fabric on, sanding sealer, cut it out, more sanding sealer (a lot), sanding, paint, clear coats, final wet sanding and polish.

The Front:

 

 

The Back:

 

 

The Pickguard:

The kit came with a plain white pick guard, I didn’t feel this particular look required a matching pick guard, so I didn’t apply fabric to it, but I didn’t want to leave it stark white either. I  decided to paint it the same color as the edges and burst of the guitar, which was a seafoam green. I thought that color worked really well to compliment the graphic on the print as well as brighten it up overall, as the main color of the guitar was a dark green. Man I can’t believe I used to have time to think about stuff like that.

 

 

The Headstock:

As I said earlier, the kit came with a headstock blank, which looks like this.

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It’s just a paddle, which doesn’t look very good. I didn’t feel like dealing with this again myself, like I had with the Les Paul style guitar. So I talked to some people on the guitar forums I visited at the time, and found somebody that would cut them out for me in the traditional “strat” style. I sent them off, and they came back all nice and pretty, ready to go.

Also, during the process of refinishing this guitar, it became apparent who I was making it for. Some very close friends of mine were getting married, and try as I might, they just wouldn’t push their wedding date back so I could get this thing properly done in time to give it to them. (I know right!? So selfish.) I thought about my options, and realized I would just do as they do, and go with the flow, and use the opportunity to make it really personal, so I hand wrote the name on the headstock and added a personal note on the back. I don’t think I’ve had to admit this yet, but I did this on the day of their wedding  before leaving my house. I was working on this thing to the very last minute. It is by no means fancy, but I think it’s fitting, and it works, and that’s what I tell myself.

 

HB Adventure:

You’ve been wondering this whole time, “What the hell is HB Adventure”? I purposely waited until the end to tell you, because I worry about your attention span and wanted you to earn it. Let me be the first to say, Congratulations! Here it comes. HB stands for Hannah and Barry, two very dear friends who I knew separately and then came together to create a beautiful life, incredible love story for sure. <humor>You see Barry was my ex-boyfriend and Hannah was a chick I knew in High School, at least that’s how I remember it. </humor> They really lived life proper traveling and had a blog to tell us all about it while I stayed home making guitars and checking in on their adventures. Life is still happening over at HBAdventure.com, to the fullest to be sure. I really admire my friends who have always seemed to do life right, exploring and capturing the very best life has to offer, and leaving the rest. They teach that now to their two beautiful daughters.

But back in August of 2008, they were just getting married, and I had made a gift for them. I had taken the neck plate in to be engraved, as I was known to do for special occasions. (Mostly this is so they don’t forget who it came from, I hope they don’t know any other “Joe’s”.) 😉

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j.

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Guitar Retrospective #8 (Pt. 1 The Body): “Landscape Les Paul”

I began this project in June of 2007. Since I was also in the middle of a couple strat projects, namely, the “Koi Flower” and “Wild Horses” guitars, I was ready for something different. I decided to try a Les Paul style guitar, with a curved top.  I picked up a Saga LC-10 LP style guitar kit.

Saga LC-10 LP style guitar kit

Saga LC-10 LP style guitar kit

After studying the kit, which was decent enough with the components (kit guitars like this usually benefit from upgrading some of the parts), I remember being impressed with the body. Nice figure in the top, nice binding, nice mahogany back. I thought, “Wow this is pretty good for a kit guitar…Ok, now which fabric will I use to cover this up with.”

Saga body frontSaga LP body back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had picked out a beautiful Japanese scenic landscape print for this guitar. I used this print because there were a lot of great options and a lot of surface area on this guitar with which to display it, with the rear routed control cavity, and the larger body size, you could see a lot of this fabric. This was the full panel I had to work with. Actually a little more than what is shown in this picture, since I got a full yard, there is more tree and hillside to the left. fabric full panel

I laid it out with my paper templates to determine which section of the fabric would be used for the front and which for the back. This is one of the funnest parts of the process, because you are deciding the look of the whole guitar, it is the decision moment of the design process, because once you cut it out, that’s it, you’re committed. Unless you have a bunch more fabric, which I never do. Fabric can get expensive, especially these fancy prints I always pick out, so I usually only get a yard.

Layout

Laying out fabric, template positioning of the back of the guitar.

So I’ve documented the material finish process on previous posts, so I won’t bore anyone (or myself) with every detail by describing it in words. But I will do it with a series of pictures, because pictures are fun and require MUCH less reading.

LP fabric front rough

Fabric glued down, rough cut – front.

LP fabric back rough

Fabric glued down, rough cut – back.

 

Post-Sanding Sealer coats and cut out cavities. Front of guitar.

After sanding sealer coats and cut out cavities – front.

Post-Sanding Sealer coats and cut out cavities. Back of guitar.

After sanding sealer coats and cut out cavities – back.

 

After sanding, before paint - front.

After sanding, before paint – front.

After sanding, before paint - back.

After sanding, before paint – back.

 

After paint - front.

After paint – front.

After paint - back.

After paint – back.

 

I interrupt this series of beautifully laid out sequential pictures to say, holy cow was it difficult to find this shade of navy blue that matches PERFECTLY with this print. I tried at least half a dozen different shades of the usual brands I use, only to find none of them blended well with this fabric. I eventually went to a store I never go to, I believe it was a Sebo’s hardware store in town, and found a construction spray paint that looked promising. When I shot it and saw this result, I was ecstatic, I could finally stop buying blue spray paint.

 

After shooting clear coats - front.

After shooting clear coats – front.

After shooting clear coats - back.

After shooting clear coats – back.

 

For the detail oriented like myself, the paint I used had a hint of sparkle, which again matched PERFECTLY on a deeper level with this print, as it also has a little sparkle in the print, which I’ll show soon in a close up pic.

After clear coats, side of guitar, notice sparkle in paint.

After clear coats, side of guitar, notice sparkle in paint.

 

After wet sanding and polish - front.

After wet sanding and polish – front.

After wet sanding and polish - back.

After wet sanding and polish – back.

 

Yes I did get a few sand-throughs along the edges on this one, I was really bummed. It’s a learning process, and I’m always learning new tricks to avoid this terrible eye sore that is very easy to allow pop up.

And hey, I’m a man of my word, here’s that close up where you can see the sparkle detail in the print.

Close up of front, notice the sparkle in the print.

Close up of front, notice the sparkle in the print.

 

As you can see if you look closely in the neck pocket where I sign and date the guitar upon completion, this guitar was finished in August of 2007, it was intended as a wedding gift for a close friend. I remember now I was kind of rushing to complete this towards the end so it could be ready to give away after the long drive to its new home, which might explain the lack of completed pictures with it all strung up and full body/neck shots. By the way, the headstock was a completely custom design, and will be featured in its own post. Here are the shots I have of the completed body all put together. I show these with slight embarrassment, as guitar players will know, one of the pickups is backwards. (Ooops! so embarrassing!!!) Hey, it was my first experience with a Les Paul style guitar in person, I hadn’t come across pickups like these yet, and like I said I was rushing to get this out the door. But yea, I feel stupid seeing these pics now, so try to ignore everything I just said. :-/

LP finished front 1LP finished back 1

 

You might have noticed the custom neck plate I had engraved to commemorate the event, very special detail. I gave a big heartfelt speech during the rehearsal dinner where I presented the happy couple with the unique gift, explaining how the creation of the guitar represented what a good marriage might require: patience, love, attention to detail, hard work, more patience, etc. I said I hoped it would hang on a wall inside their home to remind them of this. Well, they are now divorced. It must have been sitting in the closet or something.

Seriously though, I hope my buddy forgives me for my commentary if he reads this. The guitar is with him now and that’s where I intended it to be all along, so mission accomplished. I should probably go visit him and replace that neck plate though. 😉 Love you buddy!

LP finished front 2

LP finished sides

LP finished front 3

LP finished back 2

 

Thanks for checking this out and remember there’s a part 2 coming where I go through the process of designing and creating the custom headstock on the neck of this guitar.

 

Creatively yours,

j.