Cheapo LP Junior kit finished!

Painting? Routing? Set-up tips? Or just straight-up making a guitar from scratch? Post here, and post pics!

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Cheapo LP Junior kit finished!

Post: # 1407432Post astro »

I've always wanted an LP junior. Right now everything I have in my collection is either a Fender/Squier, or a copy of Fender.

I ordered an LP Junior kit on Amazon, got it today. The description says the body is Basswood and the neck is maple with a rosewood fingerboard. Here's the pic from Amazon's website:

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When the kit arrived, I opened the box, and was a little surprised to see this:

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First of all, the body is definitely not basswood... judging by the colour and grain I suspect it is actually Mahogany! That's a pleasant surprise. And the neck is bound and has inlays instead of dots... I actually think this might look a little weird on a Junior instead of dots/no binding. But hey, I can't really complain, as the binding and inlays look good and are well done. Fingerboard looks too dark to be real Rosewood, and has some kind of sealer applied to it. Not sure why they would seal a Rosewood fingerboard, unless it is a different wood that has been dyed. Maybe it's even one of these engineered woods, since CITES has thrown a monkey wrench into the Rosewood trade for musical instruments. Still looks and feels nice, though I would have preferred raw wood on the fingerboard. But overall not a big deal.

Bridge actually looks and feels pretty nice:
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It's a wrap-around bridge, but with TOM saddles so it can be intonated. Not bad!

The rest of the parts is the usual assortment of stuff one expects to get with these kits: tuners look OK, they look like the typical sealed ones you get with an Affinity Squier. I might upgrade to some Kluson types, or not. We'll see how these hold up first.

Electronics look like garbage (they usually are with these types of kits), I've already ordered quality pots and jack for when I wire up the guitar.

The pickup looks like a real dog-eared P90, can't see the magnet so I don't know if it's alnico or ceramic. I'll keep it if it sounds good.

My plan:
Cut out the top of the headstock to have the open-book/moustache shape like on a Gibson. I will need to buy a coping saw to cut the shape. I will try and find an amusing headstock decal. Not one with a Gibson logo, since it's a copy, but hopefully something that looks cool/funny/amusing/LOLs.

Finish the body in tinted polyurethane. I would have loved to dye the wood, but the body has a thick coat of clear sealer and I can't be bothered to sand it off. Will probably try some of this stuff:

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Not the black stuff in this particular pic, but rather this colour: Image which is what they call "Natural Cherry". It's a wipe-on polyurethane which can be applied over an existing finish (or clear sealer in this case).

The headstock will be painted black, the back of the neck (which also has a coat of sealer) will most likely be painted with Tung oil, we'll see, I might change my mind.
Last edited by astro on Wed Dec 09, 2020 6:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.
kingkiller
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Post: # 1407436Post kingkiller »

I built a strat copy from one of these kits before. It didn’t turn out great but at the time I was very underprepared for that type of task. Can’t wait to see how this turns out!
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Post: # 1407481Post astro »

Today I got a coping saw and some finishing supplies. The store I went to was out of the Minwax Polyshades so instead I got some Varathane poly that's tinted in a slightly darker cherry colour than what I was originally planning to get. Also got some of the same stuff in black for the headstock.

I downloaded a life-size template of a Gibson headstock, printed it, stuck it on cardboard, and cut it out. I taped it to the headstock and traced the shape onto the wood:
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Stuck the neck (wrapped in a towel) into a vice to hold it secure:
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Then I used the coping saw to do a rough preliminary cut of the shape, took about 10 minutes:
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And after about and hour of hand sanding with 120 grit sandpaper I have a shaped headstock. Not 100% perfectly symmetrical but most people won't notice.
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I decided to get some kluson style tuners for the guitar, purely because I prefer the look of vintage tuners, so I glued toothpicks with wood glue into the pre-drilled holes to fill them, since I'll have to drill new holes for the Klusons.
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Post: # 1407483Post Bacchus »

One of my best guitars (and certainly the one I pick up the most) was one of these kits. But it was a strat, and they're nearly impossible to get wrong.

http://www.shortscale.org/forum/viewtop ... sc&start=0
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Post: # 1407609Post astro »

Bacchus wrote:One of my best guitars (and certainly the one I pick up the most) was one of these kits. But it was a strat, and they're nearly impossible to get wrong.

http://www.shortscale.org/forum/viewtop ... sc&start=0
Wow, that strat turned out beautiful!!!!
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Post: # 1407610Post astro »

I used the "cherry" coloured Varathane brush-on poly on the body, two coats so far:

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The colour is more like red wine than cherry, not sure how I feel about that as I was hoping for something more reddish. I have a can of black for the headstock face, maybe I should do the body black as well?
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Post: # 1407614Post NickS »

More Morello cherry than Maraschino....
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Post: # 1407624Post kingkiller »

I never really liked the Varathane when I’ve (albeit a limited about) used it, I found it ended up being too dark in general, it was harder to get lighter stains out of it. That being said, the project is coming along nicely
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Post: # 1407625Post astro »

kingkiller wrote:I never really liked the Varathane when I’ve (albeit a limited about) used it, I found it ended up being too dark in general, it was harder to get lighter stains out of it. That being said, the project is coming along nicely
It's my first time using Varathane and so far I am not too impressed, it took 5 coats to no longer have big ugly brush streaks, and despite the fact that it is supposed to be a transparent stain, it is completely opaque. So basically it is paint, not stain. I was hoping to have the grain visible through the finish but no such luck. The grain wasn't spectacular on this body so at least it's not that big of a loss.

I will keep the cherry stain/paint on it, now that it's on thicker it reminds me of Fender's Midnight Wine colour, which I think is nice.
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Post: # 1407627Post kingkiller »

astro wrote:
kingkiller wrote:I never really liked the Varathane when I’ve (albeit a limited about) used it, I found it ended up being too dark in general, it was harder to get lighter stains out of it. That being said, the project is coming along nicely
It's my first time using Varathane and so far I am not too impressed, it took 5 coats to no longer have big ugly brush streaks, and despite the fact that it is supposed to be a transparent stain, it is completely opaque. So basically it is paint, not stain. I was hoping to have the grain visible through the finish but no such luck. The grain wasn't spectacular on this body so at least it's not that big of a loss.

I will keep the cherry stain/paint on it, now that it's on thicker it reminds me of Fender's Midnight Wine colour, which I think is nice.
I don’t usually like all-in-one stains and finishes, even though they save a tremendous amount of time, just because you can’t build color without also building finish, but it’s good that you don’t have to reapply a different color
Hurb wrote:I love Jizz
Al_ wrote:I prefer to squeeze balls.
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Post: # 1407777Post astro »

This Varathane one-step stuff is nearly indestructible... In order to get rid of the brush marks in the finish, I have been wet sanding with a 60(!) grit sanding sponge for over an hour... on just the front side of the body... and there are still brush marks/grooves in the finish!!! At least I haven't sanded through the paint to the wood!

And here I thought a brushed on finish would save time and effort... LOL!

It does look better sanded though, to be fair. In fact, I might just leave some faint brush marks in the finish because they are starting to look like wood grain.

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Post: # 1407942Post astro »

I have been using Watco wipe-on polyurethane for the clear coat. It seems pretty good so far. I'm not wiping it on though, I'm using a foam brush. Goes on nice with no brush strokes, dries slowly but it looks pretty smooth when it is set.

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I had used the same stuff to do the clear coat on the neck and headstock, and so far it is coming out pretty good. Although the one-step "stain" I used sucks (it's completely opaque) and will never be used by me again, I am so far really happy with the Watco wipe on poly. If it turns out durable I will definitely use again. It's super quick to apply and less involved than spraying.

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Still waiting for some stuff I ordered from Guitarfetish, namely kluson type tuners and a square jack plate that uses 4 screws (the stock plate is a football type with only 2 screws, which will most likely get pulled out of the wood when repeatedly unplugging the guitar). Tracking has not shown anything new in 5 days, hopefully Canada Post did not loose the package.
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Post: # 1407943Post kingkiller »

Looks great so far, can’t wait to see it with all of its parts!
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Al_ wrote:I prefer to squeeze balls.
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Post: # 1408242Post astro »

So I wet sanded the body and polished it with some 3M Finesse-It. The clear coat does have a "mirror" finish (see my reflection in photo below), but there are all these weird marks in the clear coat. It's like rings, as though sanding through different layers of tree rings in wood, except it's in the clear coat finish. These flaws can be seen in the picture below, near the bridge posts, to the left/top of the body, they look kinda like water stains. It doesn't look horrible, but it does look bizarre.

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I used all finishing products I've never used before, the wipe-on and brush-on polyurethane stuff. I'd always been curious about them but I won't use them again now that my curiosity is satisfied. I thought these products would be quicker and easier to use, but actually the aerosol spray can finishes I've done in the past were quicker and easier, and did not end up with weird flaws in the finish.

I also had the chance to wire up the electronics. I scrapped all the stock electronics (except the pickup) that came with the kit as they looked like cheap junk. I haven't bolted the neck on as I have not done finishing it yet, so I tested the P90 by plugging it into an amp and tapping the pole pieces on the pickup with a guitar pick, to see if I could hear the tapping through the amp. Looks/sounds like everything works, can't wait to hear what the P90 sounds like with strings!

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I didn't use the stock bell knobs that came with the kit because they did not fit on the new potentiometer's shafts. Instead I used chromed metal bell knobs, I think they look nice. I still have the plastic film on top of the pickup. I'll put the pickguard on when the neck is bolted on.
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Post: # 1408243Post astro »

I also applied a headstock decal that says "Cheapo" in a gibson script. I am wondering if I should use a rattle can to apply the top coats of clear on the headstock, as I do not want to wipe off the decal when applying the clear with a brush or a rag. Here it is, freshly applied:

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Post: # 1408244Post Noirie. »

lol nice. I think your kit has the same body shape as the Vintage/Harley Benton Les Paul Juniors.
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Post: # 1408247Post astro »

Noirie. wrote:lol nice. I think your kit has the same body shape as the Vintage/Harley Benton Les Paul Juniors.
This one?

LANK
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Looks like my kit for sure (They must be made in the same Chinese factory), but probably comes stock with better tuners. I noticed today that one of the stock tuners in my kit fell apart all on it's own while inside the box.
Last edited by astro on Mon Dec 07, 2020 9:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post: # 1408248Post Noirie. »

Yeah. Kinda jokes that the Sunburst on that looks way better than the Epiphone version.
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Post: # 1408281Post astro »

I added 2 clear coats to the headstock. I ended up using the wipe-on polyurethane and the decal stayed intact. Phew!

So with all the paintwork finished I assembled the guitar. Based on reviews I've read of these types of kits, I was expecting it would need a major fret dressing. Well, I was pleasantly surprised and the fretwork is actually spot on. I just needed to tighten the truss rod a bit, and I added a shim made out of 3 layers of an old business card and the action was then perfect. The intonation was already pretty good without any tweaking. This was one of the quickest setups I've ever done, and it plays really well!

Unfortunately I can't plug it in just yet, as it's late and the wife and kids are all asleep. Tomorrow I have the day off and I plan on trying it out with an amp to see how the pickup sounds.

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I still have no idea what wood the fretboard is...
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Post: # 1408282Post Nick »

Tbh this build had me worried but it actually came together nicely. Kind of a shame the grain is hidden but it doesn’t look bad either.
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