Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Stratocaster guitar kit

While we've been busy making resin fingerboards, RGB LED circuit boards, sanding blocks to make fingerboard blanks, writing firmware and building a web-based pattern editor, we've also had to find time to build the rest of our guitar-based project.

While it's very tempting to have a go at building the body with a large-scale CNC (possibly even outsourcing the cutting of the base wood) and hand-hacking the electronics, a far more sensible answer presented itself while browsing the Streetwise Guitars website - a DIY guitar kit.

The kit arrived in just a day, and it didn't take long for Steve to make the case for actually doing this thing properly - with multiple layers of primer, lots of sanding inbetween coats and proper polishing, to get a really pro finish.

The guitar body arrived in an "unfinished" state - the idea being that the recipient can apply their own finish. As we're going to paint our guitar body (rather than simply sand and apply lacquer for a "natural wood" effect) we left the wood with a rough surface before applying the first coat of primer.

Much to Steve and Other Steve's disgust, I insisted on a metallic purple finish for the guitar body (acrylic car paint, 1994 Ford Fiesta Purple). So we sprayed on a couple of coats of Army Painter shining silver primer.

The primer didn't keep its shiny lustre for long - as Steve insisted on properly sanding the primer between coats, which dulls the finish (and roughs it up slightly to act as a key for the next layer of paint).

It took three coats of primer, with some 400 and 800 grit wet-and-dry between coats to get a surface that was completely smooth and entirely covered all of the wood (it's very easy to over-sand on the edges and expose the wood again!). The different layers were applied over a number of days, to allow plenty of curing/drying time between layers.

The first layer of purple went on easily. But, depsite numerous warnings against applying the paint too thickly, it wasn't long before there was evidence of paint runs on our lovely shiny metallic purple surface!

Steve's really not going to like this one! Let's hope a bit of sanding once it's dry can get that dribble mark out!

On the second coat of purple paint (following, of course, a rub down with yet more wet-n-dry) the paint can spluttered to a halt and the last few drips of paint sneezed out onto the guitar body. So that's it for a few days, until the car-paint shop opens again and we can buy yet more paint to finish the job!