Hello folks,

So a couple of weeks I lucked out and found someone selling a whole pile of dysfunctional guitars for a very small lot price of $50. Most of them are missing pick ups or tuners and I have a deal at a local boutique place where I'll be assembling peddles in trade for pickups and spare guitar parts and things left over after upgrades. Not the highest quality stuff but to fix up cheap guitar, get the experience needed, and get them out the door and into new hands I figure it's perfect.

However several of the guitars are in need of nuts and the two acoustics need saddles. In half the cases the original nuts are missing(fairly clean looking removal) and the other half they are quite literally broken.

So I thought that the need to have two saddles and at least four nuts installed was the perfect time to invest in the tools and learn to do it myself.

Looking at stewmac I can get a pack for about $200 and after adding on nut blanks(with a few extras) and a seating file it gets to be about $300. While I understand quality tools are worth the cost I'm wondering if there is anything in this set that is considered extra and if these prices are similar across the board. After checking Luthiers Mercentile I could not find all of the same tools(such as the same style of vise) and the price was starting to rack up to be about the same. Only bonus was bone nut blanks seemed to be about half the price even without buying in bulk. They sadly didn't have the tusq ones I want to use on at least one of the electrics.

In short are there similar or better quality tools at a similar to lower price than StewMac for the basic tools to make and seat a nut and/or saddle? Do any of you have any advise for a first time nut maker?

I'll add a list with pictures of the guitars is there is interest in it!
stewmac I hear the most. I remember a guitar tech telling me that the tools pretty much pay for themselves. I remember buying a roundfile at a hardware store and it was around 8 to 11 dollars and he was right. I probably made 200-300$ off of it my first year doing stuff like fretboard scallops and so forth.

On one side of things you could flip all the guitars very, very easily for 50$. The nuts on ebay from China are dirt cheap and some are even made of bone which the older generation goes nuts for. However to keep them graphtech tusq nuts I like the most. They are in black or white.

on the other side of things where you make the nuts and invest the money and learn a new skill there is lots of good videos. What makes a good nut is having little to no contact with the nut if that makes any sense. Like the bare minimum of it touching. This way you get the right amount of sustain and everything.

for tuners, saddles and so forth ebay I'd go on. A bunch of shops and sites buy directly from the same guys and if you can wait a few weeks why not. You don't see many deals like that. I'm still kicking myself for not getting 6 or 7 hard cases for about 100$ or so.
Actually some of the guitars are worth a bit more than that if I can repair them decently. There is a Galveston left handed acoustic that I think I can flip for around $100(even have a potential buyer) a lotus strat copy that could get $60 if I'm patient, either an early Yamaha acoustic or a similar japanese maker that I think I could at least get $75 on, and a Stinger(Martins electric line from the late 80's) telecaster that I'm thinking about keeping(cause it's ugly in a wonderful way) and selling my Yamaha Pacifica instead for around $100.

The pile also came with an old Teisco or similar no name japanese brand that has the frets pushing out all over the place, a first act body that was obviously trashed on stage multiple times(due to severe cracking it's being retired and parts stripped), and two different necks(One that looks like a gibson style headstock with no brand markings, and one from a New Yorker) . All of the guitars have tuners but one neck is missing them.

I've got my heart set on learning the skill rather than just buying pre-slotted replacements. I'm interested in doing guitar(and other instrument) tech and/or luthier work and am slowly working on the skills for it as I can afford the tools. In this case I can afford them and luckily make most of my initial investment off or can apply any profit towards others tools. Just seeing what alternatives there are out there. Such as the $30 feeler gauge set on Stew Mac that doesn't seem to be anything special compared to one or two $7 sets I can buy at an automotive store and get the same or more guages.

I will keep my eye out on ebay for collections of parts. At the moment I think I have a good deal lined up trading parts for labor at that local place but if I find a cheap lot or there is something they don't have on hand it'd be a good place to check.

I'm also intending to call one or two of the local guys and see what they are using and if they are willing to show me a few things. I don't think anyone would be interested but there are a lot of older luthiers in the area that I think would be willing to show someone bits and pieces of the trade.
My neighbor who is in his 50s has quite the collection of tiescos and so forth and is always on ebay looking for them. It's a hassle finding parts but luckily if we know what we're after we can either replace or modify our guitars for the parts to fit on them.

for replacement necks guitarfetish is always doing sales on used bodies and necks. Just like all your projects they do require a bit of work but well worth it.

the feeler gauge is overpriced. Use automotive ones for sure. One of my friends in university went with it and he had excellent results. I'll ask my other friend who has his own guitar repair shop some other resources. He mentioned it once on facebook but that was it. He's worked for one of the top places in the city and I refer people to him all the time.

for the body with cracks I'd sand it down and if the cracks are in the wood aren't too serious like half way through the body I'd fill them with glue, level it out and paint. Remember to use polyurethane or varnish over the body after. Automotive spray paint is excellent to paint guitars with. Remember to start spraying away from the body and don't stop for whatever reason until you're off the guitar for the best results.

I agree learning the skill is a lot of fun. I can do pretty much any wiring harness and re-string to any string size or tuning on a floyd rose work. It's great we have youtube now to ask guys questions. That is how I learned to polish a guitars finish perfectly. However lessons wise.. Sullys guitar garage is a really good youtube service to find out any information. He does everything hands on.

for the stuff you wouldn't want the bare minimum for going rate for bodies and necks is a minimum of 50$ each plus shipping. Always go with tracking numbers.

for individual parts don't worry about ordering from China though. I used to have packages arrive every day of the week for guitar projects and so forth as I had a side business where I fixed up guitars even if it was a little bag of screws or whatever I thought of the end process.

send me a private message on here if you've got any questions though. I respond much quicker.
Well to be honest I'm only keeping the Tiesco for now as it seems like something that I can't screw up doing fret work on in the future. Has no hardware at all and it's been repainted badly so it doesn't have much going for it.

I don't need replacement necks and don't believe I ever mentioned needing them but thanks for the link.

Cool I could always use more resources. I'm going to the music shop tomorrow with a slightly different project(a really bad trombone.....don't ask) and while I'm there figured I'd see if they had the cards of any local luthiers or repair guys I could call and talk to or email.

The body cracks in the one guitar have killed it. All the way through both sides of the neck pocket and down halfway the body. Another crack from the strap button all the way through the body approaching the bridge pickup. Can flex the body and open up the cracks to fit a quarter in easily. Plus it belonged to a rather cheap first act I believe and one of the uglier body shapes I've seen. Figure I'll steal the hardware on it and use it as an art piece or sketching material.

I'll check out Sully's guitar garage in a bit, thanks.

Overall I'm not worried about parts. I have a potential source or two for a good number of things. It's mainly tools and the few things I need raw material for that I'm short.
good idea to keep the tiesco. It's a conversation piece. Painting guitars isn't too hard if you got somewhere to use as a workshop. The biggest piece of advice I can give is take your time with the wood finish. Varnish or polyurethane is the best results. Preferably polyurethane as it lasts a while. The thinner the finish the better the acoustic tone.

yeah the necks are there if you need them it's an excellent resource. But better to keep things local imagine it's like someone down the road or a few towns over has what you need instead of waiting a few weeks.

I wouldn't worry too much if the cracks are fully through. I mean MIM Fenders I've been told glue pieces like that all the time so it wouldn't be any different even though first acts are like plywood so I wouldn't put too much love and care into it. But hey moneys money right.

Sully is how I learned to polish finishes and he is excellent for staining and fretting. Kind of an eccentric guy but you'll learn a lot. He does hands on lessons in Texas or Chicago I forget where he lives. But yeah good luck learning the skill. The tools will pay for themselves in the end which is fantastic. But you got to love forums on here to find out the best fret crowning files and so forth.