#1
First a little bio. I'm an electrician by occupation and advanced hobbyist woodworker for fun. I can read electrical schematics and solder well. I can make just about anything in wood and am pretty skilled finishing what I make. I even have a spray booth in the basement. But in the world of guitars, I lost track in the early 70's. So I have a lot of questions.

The guitar kit would be for my SO's son. He has a Fender Telecaster Deluxe, a Fender Acoustic and an electric/acoustic mandolin. We were thinking of giving him a guitar kit that I can help him customize to his heart's delight. But it would have to be better than what he has.

I was on the BYO Guitars website and saw they have a Fender ST licensed body and neck kit for $249. I was thinking of upgrading to the Seymour Duncan Everything Axe pickups, the Grover Locking Rotomatic tuners, the Wilkinson Vintage Tremolo and a few other upgrades for aesthetics.

His present Fender has Humbucker pickups and I thought the SD Axe pickups would give him some variety over what he has now. I like the idea he can finish the body the way he wants. I was thinking either rosewood or ebony on the fingerboard.

My questions are:
1. Would he get as good a sound from something like this as he would from a $600-$700 guitar or better?

2. Is there anything about the assembly that could go wrong and ruin the guitar, given my experience as listed above?

3. Has anyone ever done a first-time build and NOT had to go back and fix problems?

4. Would a kit like this be worth the investment or could it possibly end up in a corner collecting dust?

5. For those who think building your own is a good route to go, are there any changes you'd make to the build? If so, why?

Thanks in advance for your help!
#2

A couple of those questions interest me as well.
Squier "VMC" Stratocaster
PRS SE Singlecut
tc electronic polytune
CMAT MODS Signa Drive
Blakemore Effects Deus Ex Machina
DIY gaussmarkov Dr. Boogey
EHX Small Clone
Mooer ShimVerb
DIY Beavis Devolt
T-REX Fuel Tank Chameleon
Ampeg GVT52-112
#3
You may also want to look at Carvin. I think this kit may be a better starting point for you. If you are planning on a natural finish, the bodies may be better suited for that.
It also seems to offer better hardware.
#4
You get what you pay for. A cheap kit will have cheap parts, construction details, quality control. I've built a couple of archtop kits found at www.rmolsonguitars.com with great results. Solid body kits by him are available also. Check out www.realmusiciansforum.com for other kits and builders threads. There you can see what it takes to build a kit guitar. I'm Guitbuilder there too, and have threads on a couple of builds.
Answers to your questions.
1. Depends on pickups used and amp.
2. Failure is always an option. Kits are as easy or as hard as your skills and build requirements demand. If you throw tools and have little patience, buy a guitar.
3. Building a kit guitar is a process. "Going back" and fixing things is part of getting it right. The better the kit the better the fit.
4. A cheap kit with upgraded expensive parts will cost more and perform worse than a better kit. And yes, most kits I think go unfinished, and or unplayed, end up in the closet because they suck. It's worth it to spend extra money on educational materials to learn guitar electronics, finishing, setup, etc, while you build.
5. Tools required to build a guitar from scratch exceede the cost of a decent guitar.
Start with a kit so you know what you're doing.
But beware, building guitar kits can become an addiction. Good luck
#5
I've had good luck with BYOguitars, I've done two teles and they've turned out great.

That being said, they do take some work. And don't expect the neck to be perfect. By that I mean mostly the frets, the ends were still overhanging on both the necks i got and needed a full fret job. And I would highly suggest getting a new nut, the stock one was a little high and through off the intonation on the first few frets. The neck was straight though.

All the wood seemed to be good quality though, I pretty much upgraded all the hardware, locking tuners, traditional 3 brass saddles and all the electronics as well, the stuff that came with it worked, but it's chinese and the switch is 80% plastic and just a piece of junk. The control channel is tight for standard size pots, so just be aware that pot alignment matters. And you do have to drill the wire channels.

I ended up spending about $450 after all was said and done and got a great guitar out of it. Hell of a lot better than any mexican fenders and some americans I've played.

I'm starting on my first scratch build and got the wood from byo, it's cheaper than most other places and it looks to be quality. Haven't had a reason to steer away from them yet.

#6
Love building my own, should be pretty good. ive never gotten a bad kit before. although if i ever get a floyded kit, it needs changing
#7
I've been doing a lot of research and absorbing what I can from videos. There's a 15-part Crimson Guitar video series that I really found interesting. Fletcher Handcrafted Guitars has a 10-part vid on building a Strat. Also very informative. But both builders are very different in their approach.

I've got a sapele slab that has gorgeous figure. I bought it because it was screaming at me, "Take me home!" And since getting it home it's been sitting in my workshop begging to become all it can be. It would be awesome as a guitar body! I could make two, maybe three, Strat bodies from that slab.

(mineral spirits applied to show the figure)


I don't have the specialty tools for guitar building but I do have a woodworking shop filled with tools I can do most anything with. But since this first run will start with a kit, any woodworking will probably be minimal.

With the BYO kit, upgrading it brought the price to almost $750. I just have no idea how good those upgrades are (posted above) so I don't know if it's worth it to go that route.

If you get the woodworking right, is it just a matter of the parts and pieces you install that make it a decent guitar? Like, if you put Joe Barden S-Deluxe pickups in it ($440) will you get the same result you might from doing that in a Fender-made Strat?

I could make either the Crimson or Fletcher guitars if I had the right measurements to make the templates and other information to complete the guitar. But I'm not going there... yet. Right now, I just would like to know if it's best to start with a basic kit, get to know the ropes, and then move on - or, if you have the woodworking skills and tools, to dive in and do it right the first time?

Thanks all for your help.
#8
Building, especially a bolt on is pretty easy. I cut my body out with just a router, if you have bandsaw it will make things 1000x easier. Just get the shape you want, there's plenty of free files online for body shapes, find your center lines, trace, cut the outline. Make templates for the pickups , neck pocket, and other cavities. Other than that you just need a neck and then mark off your scale length for the bridge.

it's pretty darn simple to make a body. If you have the money for $440 worth of pickups...go for it. That parts really up to you, I'd be perfectly content with some duncans or something along those lines. Try sourcing out the hardware to get it cheaper. Or look at some of the stuff on GFS and sites like that, but again if you have the money and want to build the best possible guitar money can buy, spare no expense. But I'd be willing to bet you probably couldn't tell the difference between a lot of the hardware.

The wood work is the most important factor in getting a good playing guitar though. Pickups and hardware can be replaced to your hearts content. Perfect neck route so you can get the best action and vibration transfer possible is what is really going to make the difference.