The wife was away in vegas to visit a grieving friend a couple weekends ago - and what did I do - I decided to build a guitar body for an orphan Kay neck that I really like (Kay KE-17 - cheap crappy guitar - but the neck feels AWESOME).

I saw someone necroposted a thread here on making a guitar using nothing but hand-tools - this proves it is indeed doable - BUT - it is harder than usual. The only reason I succeeded is because I have been building guitar bodies since I was 14 years old, and bodies are not hard to make (IMHO). Took me 2-3 hours...

1.) At lowes I bought a 36"x13" plank of multi-strip laminate pine board, I'm not a tonewood guy. I like pine, I like the weight, I like how it feels, and I've built guitars using it before. The idea was to cut the board in half, and have one part be the back, and the other be the front, and use the seam as my centerline, and use a SAW to make my neck slot.

2.) I bought 2 new hand tools, a $8 coping saw, and a $15 Irwin Dovetail/Pull Saw. That's ALL I needed for the body outline and neck slot. So about $36 into this project already.

3.) I needed to decide what to build body-wise. I'd been lusting after doing a Kay Vanguard style body for awhile, but it's so close to a Fender JAzzmaster I might as well build a Jazzmaster style guitar around it - I wanted something kitschy, because that's MY style, when I show up to play metal/grunge/whatever I like being the classic rocker looking dude with some kitchy bright colored rounded surfy something-or-other. But then I thought..."well, I like the B-52's and Nirvana - Ricky Wilson and Kurt Cobain both used basically the same variant of Mosrite for some songs (Mark V/Gospel) - why not do that?" - so I opened up google image search, looked up Mosrite Mark V, and then took to my collection of 30ish electric guitars to find ones with similar body lines to what a Mosrite Mark V had to mock up the body shape on the wood using one of those lumber-yard pencils.

4.) Mocking up the body was pretty easy - I had a Stratocaster to trace backwards (the basis for the Mosrite body shape), so I did that first, then a Jazzmaster to help with the lower bout. Looking at it, something was still not right, I saw the Harmony H804 sitting across the room, just the right angle, so I kept 1" from the Harmony and got the bottom shape just right. More erasing, sketching in freehand the lines, and I came to something that looked almost dead-on. Then came time to determine how far in the neck joint goes.

5.) Determining the neck joint distance had 2 factors, did I want that cool, durable, deep-inset neck look, or a practical neck joint from a playing standpoint? Well, since I plan to be playing this thing for more than just open tuning B-52's covers or Nirvana rage-a-thons, maybe some Metallica, Savatage, Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest - to name a few, which do go above the 12 fret very frequently, maybe I I should reconsider - so I slipped the neck joint back a good ways to be something more like a regular Fender, so that 22nd fret is perfectly accessable. Measured the scale out, 25.5" - so I got the bridge properly positioned (A Washburn Wonderbar), and then took out a pair of EMG Pickups, used the centerline to pick those, and trace out the cavities, and then the control cavities using a 3-way switch and some pots roughly the same size as full size pots...and all planning is done, now time to cut.

6.) Next up I just took the Pull-Saw, and ripped the board in half - one half with the body design drawn on it, the other half to be SCREWED through the pickup cavitiy markings so I could cut it out one fell swoop without gluing (should I choose to cut my routes out via coping saw, which I decided against in the end). before screwing it on though, I used the pull ssaw and coping saw to cut out the neck slot, which turns out it would give the full angle of tilt possible - basically halfway was too deep, but I'm fine with that, that's why there's a thing called "Shims".

7.) After screwing the back on through the pickup routes, I started cutting the full body. First using the Pull Saw to rough out the shape except the body horns, and using the coping saw on the body horns after sebmenting the cuts using the pull saw. The coping saw did a cleaner job than the pull ssaw, and a lot of sanding ensued afterward to round out the curves, but in the end, the body looked great even when rough.

8.) Final refinements were done using 60 grit and a hand-sanding block, which was rounding out the horns inside, waist corners, and rounding over the edges, in the end, the result looked like it was done well enough that any small issues (a few nics, some grain pull out in one or two spots) could be fixed with wood filler or superglue. The body halves were glued with titebond III, and screwed together to dry (in lieu of clamps - which I'm lacking in, and not worried about as sI'm doing this guitar in an opaque finish).

9.) Power tools finally got introduced after starting to route the pickup routes the next day with the Chinese chisels I used to route an entire tremolo cavity into a First Act ME-437 body with (that took 3 hours - 2 for the through body section, and a third hour for the back on another day, and I got a blister on my hand both times). The problem was the chisels were going dull (I've used then a LOT for more than just that First Act, but I'm sure that ate the life out of them). So, that's when I started to introduce power tools, starting off using the chisels with a cordless drill - but now I bought a router this weekend, so I'll be finishing this project using that instead as it's faster and easier than using chisels....plus sI'm excited and want to get this beast going.

My Current Mains
- 1996 Fender Jag-Stang with EMG Pickups
- 1998 Fender Jaguar with Cool Rails
- 1982 Hondo Paul Dean II (DiMarzio Super II X2)
- 2010 "Fender" Jazzmaster (Home built)
- 2013 Squier VM Bass VI (stock)
Interesting build and very detailed.

Are you attaching a Floyd locking nut to the neck to compliment the Wonderbar?

What colour of finish do you have in mind?

What is it about the el cheapo maximo Kay neck that makes it feel so good?

Might also be worth considering carving out the neck heel.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Omae wa mou

Quote by Axelfox

The Locking nut depends fully on how well it stays in tune afterward. I've had that Wonderbar on 3 other guitars I've built over the years and never had to use one, one of them had a banana headstock so not using one is very likely. The string pull to the headstock is surprisingly straight for such a cheap neck.

Finishing is going to be a very close color to Yngwie Malmsteen's Duck to say the least. I thnk I may have found it in brush-on Krylon last night (trying to avoid spraying - again, Apartment). Basically, that extremely yellowed vintage-white color is what I'm going for. My wife picked that out (she likes to help out on aesthetics - including doing certain parts of the finishing process). I'm thinking of doing a matching headstock and waterslide decal of my own design as well.

The Cheapo Kay Neck was a huge surprise. Originally it was attached to a Kay KE-17 - which is one of these weirdoes

It really looked wrong on that tiny little Korean body, but what's even more wrong was I could get the action rather low on it with no buzz (about 1/8" or a little less at the 22nd fret), and the profile is very skinny and very close to two of my favorite necks - my 1995 Fender Jag-Stang, and my 1983 Hondo Paul Dean II (except the whole 1" nut thing the PDII has) - that neck really must have left the factory on a good day.

I might do a carved neck heel on a later build, part of this one is to use up parts I have laying around - I pretty much have everything I need to build it except the pots and tuners (Kluson Revolutions - my new favorite - sealed gear AND split posts - that's a winner for me). The pickups I'm using are an EMG H (NECK , single coil in a humbucker body, and the single coil is angled) and and EMG 60 (usually used for the neck, might get it trebly enough but hot enough for the right sound and feel) - if I don't like the sound, I'll probably wind some Mosrite clones into some regular, plain, plastic, Humbucker covers - built 100% like Semie Moseley did his pickups (or at least, how Curtis Novak replicated some Mosrite pickups into reissue covers). The last pickup I did was a massively (almost comically so) overwound strat pickup I put in the bridge of a FEnder Musicmaster (seen below).

Hopefully soon, sometime after X-mas probably, I'll fire up the router and finish the routing on it, then I can start focusing on the finishing end, after I do some small adjustments to the body in some places (a few things got messed up because again - hand tools).
My Current Mains
- 1996 Fender Jag-Stang with EMG Pickups
- 1998 Fender Jaguar with Cool Rails
- 1982 Hondo Paul Dean II (DiMarzio Super II X2)
- 2010 "Fender" Jazzmaster (Home built)
- 2013 Squier VM Bass VI (stock)