PAINT YOUR OWN GUITAR
TIPS & TRICKS NEWSLETTERS #6
©2004 – 2018 – Paint Your Own Guitar. All rights reserved.
IN THIS ISSUE:
1. Lining Up Your Neck For A Floyd Rose Bridge
2. Today’s Q & A: Your Questions Answered
1. Lining Up Your Neck For A Floyd Rose Bridge
If you’re the kind of guy or gal who likes to swap necks, this is something that you’ll no doubt, come across if you use Floyd Rose bridges. (NOTE: does every guitar player own at least one Floyd Rose bridge or a licensed FR bridge?)
For my book, Project 5150, I customized a neck to look just like a Kramer neck with banana headstock. The Kramer body was already routed for the bridge, so all I had to do was bolt on the neck and I’d be good to go.
However, when putting on a new neck, you don’t just want to bolt it on; your strings have to line up PERFECTLY on that neck, otherwise, it’s going to play like SH*T, so you have to be real meticulous when doing something like this.
So, follow along – this is how I line up a neck for a body that’s already been routed for a Floyd Rose bridge.
Step 1: Using a C-clamp and some scrap pickguard pieces (left over from a Frankenstrat), I set up the neck so it’s in the neck cavity. Then, I take one piece of pickguard and place it under the body (FIG 1) with the other piece going on top of the neck (FIG 2). I then tighten the clamp making sure that the clamp is placed in a position so that I can pass strings from the tuning pegs to the bridge. The clamp is just snug at this point – I still have to be able to move the neck to position it correctly. (you don’t have to use the pickguard scraps. But make sure you use something underneath the clamp that won’t damage the finish.)
Step 2: With the neck snug, I place my bridge into its proper psoition and use one spring to hold it in place (FIG 3).
Step 3: It’s time to put a couple of strings on the neck to line up the neck properly. I start with my low E (FIG 4). I lock it in place on the bridge and then wind it around the tuning peg, but I’m not stringing it up to pitch; I’m merely tightening it enough so that the string is snug and there’s no slack.
Once that string’s in position, I do the same with the high E (FIG 5). I tighten it so it’s snug.
With both of the strings locked and snug, I can now move my neck until the neck is in the ideal position for me.
Personally, I like there to be a little bit more room on the high E than on the low E. I don’t play that much stuff up high on the low E, so as you can see in FIG 5, this is exactly how I’ve lined it up.
You may not want to do it this way and that’s perfectly fine. All I’m doing here is showing you an easy way to line up the neck. How much room you allow on each side is your decision.
Step 4: Once I’ve gotten the neck into the exact position I like, I then tighten the clamp so it’s tight… not ridiculously tight – just tight.
Step 5: With it in place, I then use my power drill and drill the holes that I can access. The clamp is blocking one of the holes so I leave that one. I drill three holes but I only mark the holes – I don’t drill them all the way (FIG 6). I’ll explain that in a sec.
Step 6: With the three holes drilled/marked, I remove the clamp and the neck. I then position the neck plate over the holes and mark the center of the final hole that needs to be drilled (FIG 7 & FIG 8)
Step 7: I set my drill press to the exact depth I need to drill the holes down to. I use the drill press over doing it by hand because the drill press is a perfect 90 degrees whereas, my hand may move out of position as I’m drilling, therefore making my hole crooked. Obviously, I don’t want that.
If you don’t have access to a drill press, then drill the holes to the depth they need to be with your power drill.
And there you have it.
I can then bolt my neck on and it’s absolutely perfect. The strings line up exactly as I wanted them to.
Next issue, I’ll show you how to line up and install a bridge if you don’t have the holes already drilled.
2. TODAY’S Q&A: Your Questions Answered
Q: I’m considering buying a Stellar Les Paul copy to refinish. These guitars now have a set neck, not a bolt on neck like the ones you mentioned in your book. How much more work is involved with a set neck? Should I look for a bolt on?
A: I purchased two of the Stellar Les Pauls last year when I saw that they were now set-necks. Honestly though, the new set-neck versions do not play very well. To me, the bolt-on version was much better. On the new models, the frets seem smaller and there’s buzzy notes everywhere on the neck. I wish I could say that these guitars are incredible, but I can’t. For the price, it’s a good deal. But playability-wise, the Les Paul copies that I imported from Taiwan last year (and will be carrying again very soon) are far superior to these (maybe that’s why the ones I got are a little more expensive).
I don’t want to discourage you from buying one if you have your eye on one – but just be prepared that they might not play as good as you want them to.
Now, to answer your question regarding what’s involved with painting a set-neck, I’ll be covering this in a newsletter at the end of this month, so hang in there.
Q: Can I sand my color coats before applying the clear coats?
A: I don’t recommend sanding base color coats (or any color coats) because…
1: You run the risk of scratching the color coats when sanding it leaving permanent scratches in the color
2: You also run the risk of sanding THROUGH the color coats.
Don’t take the chance on either of these happening. If you follow the steps as I’ve outlined in my books, you’ll arrive at a factory finish – no question about it. I don’t sand my color coats and I get awesome finishes! (not bragging – just stating the truth)
Q: Can I use Minwax sanding sealer?
A: Minwax makes a sealer that is lacquer-based and they make one that is urethane-based. You can use the lacquer-based version if you wish.
However, I’m not a fan of the urethane-based Minwax sanding sealer. I don’t like anything about it. If you use it, remember – I didn’t tell you to use it.
Q: Do you advise clear glossing over the 5150 decal? or does it go on last?
A: Yes, you can, but what I’ve been told by some who have done it, the clear coating seems to kill the hollogram effect of the letters. So, you may want to apply it after the clear has been applied and buffed out.
— John Gleneicki Author – The PAINT YOUR OWN GUITAR Book Series