Why Start With a Solo Kit?

Written by: James Krueger On: Nov 2nd, 2018

There is a lot of information out there on guitar building guitars these days…so much in fact, that it becomes difficult to wade through the websites, YouTube videos, Instructional pages and books.  That doesn’t even cover what your friends and comrades are saying down at the store you hang at.  How do you decipher all this information and come up with a plan to build your first guitar?

Many years ago when I got back into guitar service and building, there were a handful of books on the market, of which only a few were considered bibles of building.  Unless you enrolled in an expensive (and rare) luthier course somewhere, you were pretty much stuck with those few books….if you could even find them.  No internet, no Google and no YouTube.  I know I am sounding pretty ancient right now, but nevertheless, that’s pretty much the way it was.  My first project was a 60’s Giannini classical guitar that came to me in three pieces (neck was broken in half and off the guitar).  Having cut my teeth repairing and re-building guitars back in the 70’s, and having spent much of the time between honing my woodworking skills, I laughed and said sure I could fix it.  I may have been a bit hasty in evaluating my skills….because they are not just woodworking skills, but woodworking and luthier skills.

As it turned out, the classical was repaired and was actually quite playable.  We later found out it had an interesting history as well, finding it’s way back to the early 60’s in Yorkville Toronto.  My next project was a scratch body with a pre-manufactured neck.

That also took a lot of time… more than it should have, and there were mistakes.  In fact, the guitar was laughed at when I took it to a reputable store.  But, I built it and it is still in the capable hands of my son today….and it actually sounds pretty decent.

So what’s the point of all this reminiscing?  Well, I went through a lot of extra work and a lot of mistakes learning the basics of building.  How do all these parts go together, how do they work together and what is the magical ingredient that makes this pile of parts into a good playable instrument.  Well, here at Solo, we have taken a lot of the guesswork and anguish out of that process.  With most of our kits ranging in the $2-300 range, a Solo kit is an investment to be sure, but not one that you will regret for a long time.  Sure, there are lots of companies out there selling kits, but we feel we put in the extra time and research into the right manufacturing facilities, and supply the right parts for an entry level build.  Solo also sells all the parts you need to step up your build, plus we are also supplying the bodies and necks to let you create a professional quality guitar or bass.

Rather than taking all the time and material to learn the basics, our Solo kits come pre-machined, so you can see how the pickup routes or string ferrule holes are supposed to work.  Taking your time and pre-fitting all the parts allows you the builder to bypass a lot of the research I did to learn about neck angles and bridge placements, and how to align a neck and so on.  We even have kits with fancier tops for maybe your second build, whether it be a flame top, quilted or spalted, you have the platform to build a guitar that not only plays well and sounds good, but one that could certainly be the envy of your jam pals!

So, when you are going through the web pages and the forums and listening to all these guys buying CNC machines for building, and buying whatever magical exotic woods for tops and necks, remember, your first build may be a kit, but you have built it well and it plays.  It doesn’t matter how fancy the wood or the hardware is on a guitar….if its not built right, it’s just another crappy guitar that doesn’t work.  Solo allows you to remove at least 50% of that risk!  Happy building y’all……

9 Responses to “Why Start With a Solo Kit?”

  1. ksutton says:

    I’m looking forward to building my first Solo Kit, but like anything you do in life. learn the terms and hows first then hands-on. I have much to learn about this build, and most of what I do know is wrong. so starting from the bottom is a good place.
    Kenny

  2. James Krueger says:

    Hey Kenny,
    Research as much as you can and get as much good info before you start….and remember, we are always here to help!

  3. richards1155 says:

    I most likely have looked over this, but what does the 3 letter prefix and number which make up the kit number?

  4. James Krueger says:

    The 3 letter prefix generally has something to do with the instrument that inspired the particular kit.
    So in the case of an LPK kit….the ‘LP’ stands for an iconic guitar model and the ‘K’ stands for ‘kit’.
    I hope that clears up your question….I’m pretty sure these model numbers are created by the
    manufacturer of the kit overseas.

  5. jesse.r.hiatt30 says:

    Finally finished my TCK-1 kit I got for Christmas 2018. The only thing that wasn’t modded/upgraded is the neck(sort of) and the body.
    Here is a list of evereything I modded:
    Fender roller nut
    Wilkinson 3 saddle compensated bridge with brass saddles
    Tuning machines from a Fender Starcaster
    Fender American Standard 3 way switch
    Fender American Standard jack
    Fender vintage 1meg tone pot
    Fender vintage 1meg volume pot
    DiMarzio True Velvet bridge pickup
    GFS vintage 52 neck pickup
    All cavaties are shielded with copper tape
    Vintage wax coated push back wiring
    Hand wired in the vintage 53 telecaster style
    Treble bleed circuit
    Fender Greasebucket circuit from a Highway 1 Telecaster
    String trees are in non conventional locations
    And finally, I aged and distressed everything by hand. I honestly got to say I never thought building and modifying the kit to the extent I did would be so much fun. A LOT of work but a lot of fun.

  6. James Krueger says:

    Wow, we would love to see a photo or two of your build! You have shown the perfect example of what you can do with a Solo Guitar Kit!
    Congrats and thank you!!

  7. jesse.r.hiatt30 says:

    I submitted it for guitar of the month. If I could figure where else to post a photo on here I will. Thanks!

  8. jesse.r.hiatt30 says:

    I finished it with a Mahagony wood stain that I then distressed and aged then painted the top a matte spanish moss green and distressed that as well.

  9. James Krueger says:

    The guys might be a bit behind due to the Covid thing, but stay tuned….I’m not part of the selection process

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