I was GASing for a Tele and a 12-string, so I thought I'd try one of these and kill two birds with one plank.
I had a quick scout around and couldn't even find a second hand electric 12-string for that kind of money. Plus, a kit should be fun; most of the hard work is done and you just have to put it together. And if it turns out good you can always upgrade the hardware.

Hopefully this will give people who are considering a kit an idea of what's involved in building one.

The kit got delivered toward the end of summer and I made a start on it. So what have we got?

Here's the body and pre-loaded pick guard. The binding's quite tidy and some of the wood even has a touch of a flame to it.

The pick guard may be the advertised 3-ply but as they're all black it may as well just be one thick ply. The no-name pickup doesn't look too awful.

Pre-drilled holes are clean and straight as you might expect.

However, look a little closer and you can see it's fairly roughly finished. Probably okay for a solid colour but it's edge bound so obviously you're supposed to stain it, right?

And there's a couple of unpleasant tears on the surface and an area that's been filled. Oops. That probably won't stain too nicely.

So, as is the lot of the guitar builder, I set about a few hours of sanding. I also ordered a red, yellow and blue concentrated wood dye. Expensive but likely to last the rest of my guitar building life. I only used a few drops to make enough dye to put a few coats on the body and headstock.


I was ready for the filled area but there's all sorts of crap all over this thing. Given that the binding suggests staining to me, that's a little disappointing. Whatever. If it turns out to be a fabulous instrument I might see about giving it a better finish. Let's move on to the neck.

The headstock is a plain tapered paddle but I've added a little shape to it.

The fretboard is raw and only roughly finished. And a bit chewed in places. Presumably I'm supposed to clean it up and then clearcoat over the top. But what about the frets? Which are actually quite nicely fitted and finished.

The nut doesn't look great and is very poorly fitted. In fact, I've ordered a new one.

But with the headstock stained that's as far as I've got. I'll take a closer look at the hardware once I've got some clearcoat on. Given the way the Great British weather has been behaving lately that may be some time coming.

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
Great work so far! I can't believe how rough they ship those things though

If you do decide to paint the back, you can get 6mm blue masking tape from 3M to cover the binding.
I'm getting twitchy from not making any progress on this, so after watching this video I thought I'd put a bit of a burst on it. I'm also thinking I might try shellac, given my variable results* with spray cans so far.

* Tried it once; didn't go so well.
Alchemy time! Or, How to make guitar finish from bug excretions and booze.

I thought I'd post a few pictures of mixing up the shellac because it's always nice to know what to expect the first time you do something.

I got my powdered shellac flakes (that's how they came), some methylated spirit, some scales and a jar for mixing in and made up a 1:8 by weight concoction. There are plenty of charts out there detailling the various "pound cut" mixtures and 1:8 works out a little stronger than a 1lb-cut (a nice light cut, recommended for beginners, apparently).

Make sure the lid on the jar is a good fit and start agitating. This will get it most of the way but to help along the last few flakes I sat it in a bowl of hot water. Just 10 minutes later and it had clarified nicely.

Remember kids, always label your chemicals. We don't want any accidents later on and this stuff looks and smells like it might just be your new favourite liqueur.

I'm about a dozen applications into the process and just like anything that requires a modicum of skill it's looking a little woolly. But I'm relatively confident that it'll all come good in the final stages. I'll try and get some pictures when I've got better light.
Last edited by von Layzonfon at Feb 24, 2014,
After about 20 applications, and helped no end by the glorious weather we had yesterday, I think I'm ready to do the final prep on this. As you can see, it's nice an shiny but there's what looks like very fine brush marks in it from the applicator. Hopefully they'll buff out with some superfine wet & dry and rubbing compound.

It's shinier than these pictures would have you believe, but it's not glassy smooth. Maybe with more practice I'd be able to do a better job. I have a feeling that shellacking is one of those skills like whistling, or plastering or doing ollies: it doesn't matter how much you read about how to do it, or how many people tell you, until you actually get the knack for yourself it's a little bit mysterious and intangible.

It's not bad, and I can see how once you've got the skill you can do a spanky job in very little time but it is very soft and fragile. One slip with a fingernail and its gouged.

I've also fitted the new nut.

And painted the cavities with conductive paint.

So I think I'm ready to start putting it together. Here's the rest of the kit.

It's not too bad. The pots are dinky. The control plate actually has a bit of a nasty, swirly groove on it like someone had an accident with a drill. Some of the wires look a little flimsy.

There's no instructions whatsoever so a newcomer might find it a bit overwhelming, but there really isn't much to do beyond connect the pickups to the switch, hook up the jack socket, earth everything and then screw it all together.

Oh, and it'll be fun trying to work out all the string gauges because they're all just in a big coil.
I feel you on the shellac front - Tru Oil is giving me the same vibe about experience, but at least neither need spraying equipment or serious PPE. It should be easy enough touch-up if you do knock it, and I guess it doesn't turn white like 2K when it's damaged.

Is shellac compatible with any fillers?
Quote by -MintSauce-
I feel you on the shellac front - Tru Oil is giving me the same vibe about experience, but at least neither need spraying equipment or serious PPE. It should be easy enough touch-up if you do knock it, and I guess it doesn't turn white like 2K when it's damaged.

Is shellac compatible with any fillers?
I don't recall seeing any warnings about anything other than water while I was reading around. I didn't have any trouble with any of the guff that was on that body. It would stand further investigation I guess.
Got this puppy finished last night.

Firstly, I have to say I did Guitar Kitz a huge disservice because there were build instructions lurking at the bottom of the box. Click here to check them out. Note that the wiring diagram, clear and concise though it is, is for a standard stratocaster configuration.

Clockwise from top left:
1) That nasty gouge on the control plate. I could have taken the controls off and flipped it, but then the countersinks for the mounting screws would be wrong.
2) The have supplied everything - even an inch of solder for doing the hook up. (Sauce pots from the Indian take-away are great for keeping little bits in.)
3) Neck alignment isn't spot on but I suppose it could've been a lot worse.
4) Pickups mounted, and yes, they supplied a ground wire for earthing to the bridge (it's the green one).

As anticipated, stringing up took a very long time and if I didn't have a digital vernir caliper to measure them all I think I'd have given up. Even as it was I managed to mix up one of the Bs and the octave G and ended up snapping it. Fortunately it was right up at the machine head and I had enough slack to swap them back okay. I'll be happier when I get around to putting a proper set on though.

It is still a source of surprise when I wire up a guitar, plug it in and it works first time. The only goof I made was to transpose the neck and bridge switch positions, but I can easily live with that. However, it worked perfectly for about 10 minutes and then all of a sudden the middle and neck positions cut out. I guess the neck connection has shorted out so I'll have to check it. Either that or the switch is fried.

I'll take some better final shots over the weekend, and maybe do some sound samples.