Build Diary – Part 15 – Finishing up

The day finally arrived to put the finishing touches to the guitar (well, nearly – more on that later).

I’m not good with a soldering iron, so I enlisted the help of my good friend Paul Hudson (from dragondreams.org.uk). I’m very grateful to Paul for his help on this stage of the build, otherwise the 6-way switch would have ended up being encased in a ball of solder, probably permanently attached to my living room carpet.

The first job was to get everything we needed ready. Once again this step became a “living room” build, only this time instead of my living room, it was Paul’s. You’ll see in the photo that one of his cats was on hand to supervise us.

I think he lost interest while we located the correct sized drill bit to mount the humbucker rings, though…

So, first actual job of the day was to mount the pickups. The chrome pickup rings I ordered from StewMac look fantastic, but there was a slight issue with the neck pickup. The Suhr DSV comes with very long pole pieces and unfortunately that meant it just doesn’t fit into the pickup slot without trimming the extra from the bottom. You can see the problem in these pictures.

With that little hiccup out of the way, on to the next one. The cable coming out of the neck pickup was fouling between the body and the pickup, pushing the pickup out of alignment and stopping adjustment of the pickup height. This should have been a simple fix – just remove a little more wood inside the cavity to make space for the cable. I was very happy to accept Paul’s offer to do this job with a small chisel.

It was good, but not quite enough so out came the Dremel with a dental bur to finish the job. Now things got really “interesting”. Somehow, the burr got caught up in the wood somewhere, got torn out of the Dremel and disappeared. We were very lucky not to have a high speed lump of metal embedded in either of us anywhere and as a secondary bonus the guitar survived intact as well). We still don’t have the first clue where the burr ended up. As you can probably imagine there are no photos of this stage.

OK, so the problems with the pickup mountings were not resolved, so time to screw them on. These are a few photos of me and my chins doing the final assembly.

So now, all that’s left is to connect all the electrickery. I didn’t take any photos of this stage, partly because I was in awe of Paul’s patience and dexterity but mainly because I was too busy enjoying the tirade of mumbled profanities he was coming out with. (He was convinced that the switch was “a bloody stupid idea, you’ll end up using two positions and the rest will be wasted”)

All assembled, and time to test – but there’s a problem. The tone control is acting like a volume control. It turns out that in my haste to shield the control cavity I had put the copper tape in in such a way that the contacts of the tone pot were shorting out to ground. Oops. It was a relatively easy fix to trim out a small area of the copper from under the pot and the problem went away. Phew!

And that’s it, apart from the “topping out” ceremony – mounting the strap buttons. I went for oversize buttons just like the ones on my Suhr. I went for those because in the two years I’ve had the Suhr I have never worried about the guitar falling off its strap without having to use strap locks. I recommend them.

Done. Time to play.

Can you tell I was pleased with the result?

I mentioned before that we are not quite done. I need to do a good setup on the guitar now, setting action height, intonation, rolling the fretboard edges, etc. Also, I need to replace the nut with one of the correct width and height. The one I have been using so far was a pre-cut, off-the-shelf one and it’s not quite right. It’s a tiny bit too narrow, and a tiny bit too short and has to be shimmed with 4 sheets of paper underneath to stop open strings buzzing on the low frets.

Next post – sound clips and photos of the (almost) complete guitar. I’ll also make a few notes on small issues that you might want to look out for in your build should you decide to get one of these great kits.

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